Real Cooking for Real Men
There is no doubt in my mind that thighs are the best part of the chicken, and that cauliflower mash and its blessed variants cut your carbohydrate load without leaving you with a sense of sacrifice.
1First, the marinade. Use a zesting tool, thin knife blade or grater to collect the zest (thin, aromatic outer layer of skin) from both lemons after rinsing and drying them. Squeeze the lemons and reserve the juice for later. Peel and crush the garlic, and finely chop the chilli and herbs. Combine the zest, garlic, chilli, herbs, salt and olive oil in a large bowl. Add the thighs, turning them a few times, then let them marinade under cover in the fridge for two to four hours.
2Preheat the oven to 180°C, and brown the thighs in a frying pan on high heat. Arrange them in a single layer in a large roasting dish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with one or two teaspoons of coarsely ground black pepper. Put them in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes, turning once after 20 minutes. Check if they’re done, before lightly dressing them with the lemon juice.
3While the chicken is cooking, top and tail the leeks, and cut into thick slices. Sweat these in olive oil until soft, then remove and reserve them under cover. Cut out and discard the thick cauliflower stem, and break into florets. Combine the milk and cream, and peel the garlic. Select a large pot, add the florets, garlic and half a teaspoon of coarse salt. Pour in water to barely cover the contents.
Bring to the boil, reduce to a high simmer and let it cook for 10 minutes or so, or until the florets are soft. Drain and allow to dry in a colander. Puree the florets and garlic in a food processor with the milk, cream and leeks. Do this in batches, depending on the volume of your food processor.
Add salt and pepper to taste, a dice or two of hard butter, and serve immediately with the thighs, providing lemon quarters to diners for their personal finishing touch.
• David Basckin is a freelance journalist and videographer. Email him at farmer[email protected]ton.co.za. Subject line: Real cooking.
Styling: Nomvuselelo Mncube Photo: Peter Whitfield