Top of pecking order
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
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
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.