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How to eat a chicken

Let’s talk about chicken. Bo-ring, why isn’t this about cow or pig or goat or literally any other meat – correct?

Incorrect. Chicken is much maligned but quite versatile, and like all things, if you cook it properly, quite delicious.

I figure with chicken you’ve got two choices: allow it to express itself in all its chickeny glory through roasting or use it as a means for delivering chilli, garlic, ginger and spices to your mouth hole.

Wow making choices sucks. So don’t. You can achieve delectably succulent crispy-skinned chicken that fully acknowledges the natural tastiness of the bird while also yoloing down some spice. It is dead easy, takes under two hours with really minimal prep and if you don’t do this you are a terrible person.

I made this for dinner because I bought a chicken and I really, really wanted to make some chicken curry but by the time I got home and cleaned the kitchen I also needed to watch the Budget and it all seemed far too hard. I also couldn’t be bothered chopping my chicken into pieces, so I thought, why not keep the curry paste but just roast the chicken? 

Fucking. Brilliant. The curry paste gently infuses through the chicken so the skin is crispy and spiced while the meat is subtly flavoured but still actually tastes like a roast chook.

FYI you need a free range range organic chook. Trust me on this, chicken is great but not if you’re eating an unhappy bird. I like Milawa Free Range Poultry, which my butcher happens to stock.

 

You will need:

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp garlic, smashed (this is like six or seven of the absurdly tiny cloves I have right now and probably about 3-4 regularly sized ones)
  • 1 tbsp ginger, smashed (this is like a 5-6cm-ish piece)
  • 6 dried chillies
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • Salt
  • Grapeseed oil
  • 3 shallots
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1.5kg free range organic chicken

 

The curry paste is adapted from this book.

I’m using a mortar and pestle here, but if you don’t have one you could probably accomplish a decent paste with ready-ground coriander, a stick blender and a Microplane grater (for the ginger).

But, if you have a mortar and pestle and some stress issues to work through, first bash your coriander seeds into submission. When they are appropriately ground, put them in a little mixing bowl. Repeat with the garlic, ginger and chillies. You should probably soak the chillies first but honestly if you hit them hard enough it won’t matter.

Stir in the turmeric, salt and enough grapeseed oil to make a decently runny paste and leave aside while you peel and cut the shallots in half and bruise the kaffir lime leaves.

Now get your chicken and give it a bit of a rinse. Pat it dry. Take off all your rings and bracelets and anything else you don’t necessarily want to end up inside a chicken, grab a handful of your curry paste and rub it all over the chook, including inside if you’ve got enough/can fit your hand up there. Shove the shallots and kaffir lime leaves inside the chook and tie it up with some kitchen string.

If you have the time to let this sit for a bit in the fridge so the flavours can develop that would be quite good – if not, stick it straight in the oven at around 200°C. I have a bloody enormous barbecue so I put it in there; a course of action I thoroughly recommend. Baste it whenever you think about it. A 1.5 kg chicken should take around 1½ hours; knife it in the thigh and see if the juice runs clear – or poke it with a meat thermometer and see what it says.

This is quite good with some cabbage salad: thinly slice half a cabbage and/or some Brussels sprouts (remembering to cut off the tough ends and pull off the outer leaves). Chuck some crushed chilli and garlic in a fry pan with some grapeseed oil, fry for a bit, then toss in the brassicas with a squirt of fish sauce and rice wine vinegar. Stir fry for a few minutes then dump it in a bowl. Add some finely chopped coriander, mint and kaffir lime leaves, along with the juice of a lime. Stir. Serve.

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