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Mercury (Hobart) - - TASTE - ED HALMAGYI fast-ed.com.au

THE fact that Aus­tralians have de­vel­oped a deeply rooted and un­wa­ver­ing love af­fair with chicken should be ob­vi­ous to all of us.

After all, both as an in­gre­di­ent and as a ready-to-eat food, chicken is, quite lit­er­ally, ev­ery­where.

And there are a range of rel­e­vant rea­sons for this — cul­tural, eco­nomic and agri­cul­tural. As a more neu­trally flavoured meat, chicken has a broad ap­peal and the ca­pac­ity to be in­cluded into al­most any range of cook­ing style or cui­sine. Ver­sa­til­ity is right at its core.

Eco­nom­i­cally, chicken is par­tic­u­larly well re­garded, be­cause its ca­pac­ity to con­vert feed into saleable meat is al­most un­ri­valled. While dif­fer­ences in process, farm­ing meth­ods and an­i­mal hus­bandry abound, chicken is roughly 10 times more ef­fi­cient in terms of its abil­ity to con­vert grain, wa­ter and other in­puts. How­ever, grass-reared sheep and cat­tle do not need the farmed grain used to rear chick­ens, and this cre­ates sig­nif­i­cant dis­tinc­tions.

Lastly, the pro­duc­tion cy­cle for chicken is rel­a­tively short. In con­trast to the 12 months or longer needed for cat­tle to be ready for pro­cess­ing, chick­ens are slaugh­tered at around eight to 10 weeks.

Re­gard­less of your feel­ings on meat con­sump­tion gen­er­ally, the rise of chicken has been a cen­tral el­e­ment in al­low­ing ever more com­mu­ni­ties ac­cess to qual­ity re­li­able pro­tein. And from a hu­man wel­fare per­spec­tive, that is worth re­mem­ber­ing.

POT-ROASTED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH THYME AND KIPFLERS

SERVES: 6

In­gre­di­ents

18 small kipfler pota­toes, washed

6 chicken thighs, skin on 2 tsp cel­ery salt

125g un­salted but­ter 2 leeks, finely sliced

4 cloves gar­lic, minced

4cm piece turmeric, grated 2 bunches thyme leaves 2 tsp plain flour

2 swedes, peeled and diced 2 cup dry white wine

Method

1. Pre­heat oven to 180C. Place the pota­toes in a saucepan of cold salted wa­ter and set over a mod­er­ate heat. Bring to a high sim­mer and cook un­til ten­der. Drain, then use a knife to re­move the skins while hot. Set aside. 2. Sea­son the chicken with cel­ery salt. Put half the but­ter into a large heavy-based saucepan over a mod­er­ate heat. Once melted, add the chicken pieces and cook for

5 min­utes, un­til browned. Set aside. Mix in the leeks, gar­lic, turmeric, thyme and re­main­ing but­ter, then cook for 2 min­utes.

Add the flour and cook un­til the mix­ture be­gins to stick.

3. Re­turn the chicken pieces, add the swedes and wine, then bake for

45 min­utes, un­til the chicken skin is crisp and the sauce has al­most evap­o­rated.

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