A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend Taste of London’s fabulous food and restaurant event in Regent’s Park. The weather was glorious and the event was well attended but didn’t feel crowded at all. Amongst all the Michelin starred chefs demonstrating on live stages and 5* restaurants selling taster sized portions of their most loved dishes, were lots of producers, artisans and brands selling their wares. I blogged about the event in this post with lots of photos – https://selmastable.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/in-my-kitchen-july-2014/ and promised to post a recipe using the new Black Summer Truffle Pesto which I bought from Sacla who had a stand at the event.
The pesto is amazing (if you like truffle) and I urge you to seek it out while it’s available as it may be a limited edition. Simply spread on toasted sourdough and topped with a poached egg, breakfast the next day was a little bit of food heaven on a plate…
I love to spatchcock chicken. Spatchcock is the term used to refer to cutting out the backbone which opens out and flattens the bird – it’s so easy to do, really cuts down on cooking time and makes carving very easy too. It also makes it very easy to separate the skin from the flesh so that seasoning,herbs, pastes or lemon slices can be stuffed under the skin, as the skin is no longer stretched taut over the flesh. My poultry shears have seen better days so I normally use my the heel and point of my sharp chef’s knife to cut out the backbone. Skewering it is great if you are barbecuing and need to flip the chicken over a few times but when roasting in the oven, it is unnecessary. This is a brilliant video showing how to spatchcock a chicken, presented by the lovely Sarah Cook who also ran the Food Styling course I took at Leith’s a few years ago – http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/technique/how-spatchcock-chicken
Do save the backbone by popping it in a bag and into the freezer – it does make a great stock when you add to the other chicken bones you have been saving. You don’t have to get fancy with a simple basic chicken stock for risottos, pastas or casseroles. I always strip any meat from a roast chicken carcass to save for quick suppers, salads and sandwiches. Then, I snap the leg bones and the carcass so that they will fit in a pot later and put these in a freezer bag together with any roasted carrots, herbs and sticky bits (but not lemons as these make the stock bitter) and in the freezer if not making stock straight away. Place (frozen) in a large saucepan with a lid, cover with water, bring to a gentle boil and immediately turn down the heat to as low as you can and simmer for 2 hours – one hour if you are pushed for time. Strain and use straightaway or let it cool and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
This is wonderful with some parboiled, crushed and roast new potatoes and a pile of green beans finishing with and a mustardy green salad to mop up the juices on the plate. I apologise for the quality and lack of more photos but it was getting late so the light was low and tummies were rumbling!
Black Summer Truffle Pesto Roast Chicken
Adapted from the Sacla website
- 1 x 1.5 kg chicken – free-range or organic preferably especially if you are going to make a stock with the bones.
- ½ jar of Sacla’s Black Summer Truffle Pesto (or whizz together some parmesan cheese, pine nuts and truffle oil into a paste)
- unpeeled cloves from ½ a garlic bulb
- Lots of sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 x lemon, cut in half and one half cut into 4 wedges
- Salt and pepper
- wine glass full of dry white wine
- 50 g of finely grated parmesan cheese
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F.
- Get your roasting tin out. and place a good handful of thyme sprigs on it as a bed for the chicken.
- Remove ½ of the pesto from the jar and place it in a small bowl or plate – this will stop any contamination – something that I am a little obsessive about. Divide the paste into quarters to make it easy to use once you get going.
- Get a good pinch of sea salt onto a small plate and a good grinding of black pepper too – see note 2 about contamination!
- Spatchcock the chicken. Remove from packaging, undo the trussing or string and discard. Turn the chicken over onto it’s breast and cut along either side of the backbone, starting at the Parson’s nose (tail). Flip it over, open it out and with the heel of your hand, press onto the breasts, while you lean into it to give it some weight – this will help to flatten it out.
- Flip it onto it’s breast again and using your fingers, spread with ¼ of the truffle pesto. Season with a little salt and pepper and place onto the roasting dish.
- Starting at the neck/breast end of the chicken, using your fingers and hands, gently, being careful not to tear the skin, separate and ease the skin away from the flesh – go all the way to the top of the legs. You will have to get your hands right under the skin – not great if you are squeamish! Place half the truffle pesto on the flesh, under the skin and spread it as evenly as you can, as far as the tops of the legs. I find it easier to do one side of the chicken at a time. Pull and adjust the skin so that it is in place and covering the very top of chicken and wipe off any excess paste that is clinging onto your hands onto the chicken skin. Squeeze over the juice from half the lemon. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper.
- Now go and thoroughly wash your hands. With hot water and soap and get someone to turn the taps on for you – did I mention I was obsessive about contamination?
- Scatter the unpeeled garlic cloves around the chicken. Dribble the cloves and the chicken with a little olive oil. Pour in the wine around the edge of the tin. and place in the oven. Set the timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the heat down to 180C/350F and continue roasting for another 20 minutes.
- Remove tin from the oven and turn up the heat to 200C/400F. Using a spatula, spread the remaining truffle pesto onto the skin and sprinkle over the parmesan cheese. Place back in the oven for 10 more minutes. Check to make sure that it is cooked through – no blood running in the section between the leg and the body and remove chicken and garlic to a serving plate, loosely covering with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, drain off any oil in the roasting tin leaving behind all the lovely juices. Place tin on the hob/stove top. Bring to a boil then simmer, scraping down the sticky bits from around the sides and bottom of the tin with a wooden spoon. Let this reduce until you have a enough for a little jus or gravy. If you are making green beans, get them on now.
- Serve with lemon wedges, parboiled and crushed roasted new potatoes, green beans and a salad. The caramelised garlic just pops out of their skins and is wonderful spread on the potatoes or bits of chicken as you eat.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.