It’s rare to have a ‘died and gone to heaven’ moment. Food can do it, but it takes a very special dish. I had one such moment last Christmas.
It was our turn to host the delightfully crazy family Christmas lunch and Gordon cooked the Duck Confit recipe out of Al Brown’s Stoked, (one of the best bloke’s cookbooks I have ever come across – it’s basically a guide to cooking amazing stuff outdoors.) After Christmas lunch, I said to Gordon that I would be a very happy camper if he cooked that dish every Christmas for the rest of our lives. Al has posted a similar-ish duck recipe here.
The only problem is that it takes a couple of days of fiddling here and there, which is fine if you’re doing a fancy pants meal. However, we’re not hosting Christmas this year and I don’t want an entire year to go by without having this dish.
Even before having a toddler and a newborn to contend with, I was definitely the fast and furious cook in our relationship. Now, I’m even more wham-bam-thank-you-mam. So I took Al Brown’s gorgeous recipe and cut some serious corners. It’s a testament to how good his recipe is that it can cope with being hacked at and still come out delicious.
I also changed the recipe to a whole chicken, because I love cooking with the whole bird where possible, because it’s a more sustainable way to go and it’s cheaper – it’d be really bad to make cheep, cheep jokes here, wouldn’t it? Let’s forget I said that, then.
Roast Chicken with Pomegranate Molasses Sauce
Ingredients: 1 x 1.5 kilo/3½ lb well brought up chicken
Stuffing: 500g/1 lb well brought up pork sausages A splash of your favourite cooking oil 2 onions, finely diced 2 cloves garlic, squashed 1 tablespoon thyme leaves 2 tablespoons fennels seeds, toasted in a pan and ground 1 cup chicken stock 4 cups stale bread, diced into cubes ½ cup dried cranberries
Sauce: 2 cups pomegranate juice 200ml good quality beef stock ¼ pomegranate molasses 1 tablespoon sugar 1 bay leaf 2 sprigs thyme
How to make: Pre heat oven to 180° C/ 350° F Get the show on the road with a large saucepan on a medium heat and a splash of oil. Squeeze the meat out of the sausages into the pan, break up with a spoon and fry until golden brown. Take the pork out of the pan. Using the same pan (you may or may not need to add a little extra splash of oil) fry the onion, garlic, thyme and ground fennel seeds until brown. Add chicken stock and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the diced bread, season with salt and pepper. Stuff the chicken with the mix and put the remainder aside. Give the chicken a little massage with oil and season with salt and pepper. Pop chicken in a roasting tray and toss any remaining stems or sprigs of thyme over the chicken and pop in the oven and cook for an hour and ten minutes. Meanwhile make the sauce by heating the pomegranate juice and beef stock in a saucepan on a medium heat and simmer until they’ve reduced by half. Add the molasses, sugar and herbs and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. To test if the chicken is cooked skewer the thickest part of the thigh and press the juices onto a spoon, if they’re clear it means the chicken is ready. Take the bird out of the oven, cover with foil and leave to rest for fifteen minutes. Pop the tray of extra stuffing in the oven to warm up.
I like to serve the whole thing on the table, so everyone has to get involved. Oh, and a little wine doesn’t go astray.
Cybele Masterman (Bele) trained as a beauty therapist, aromatherapist and journalist. After working as all of the above has found herself on a quest for a beautiful and meaningful life that doesn't cost the earth. Follow on google: +blahblahmagazine twitter: @blahblahzine or Instagram: BlahBlahMagazine