A couple of years ago I cooked a turducken for Christmas. This year, for something a little different, I decided to try a chiporken. I bought a large and a small chicken and boned them both leaving the wings and legs on the large bird. I made a stuffing based on Jamie Oliver’s recipe, from diced leg pork, bread crumbs, sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper and 3 rashers of smokey bacon. I ran this through a blender, and then stuffed the small chicken.
Next I wrapped this in my favourite smokey bacon,
then put it in the large chicken,
and sewed it up.
As is usually the case, Christmas day was hot, hot, hot in Queensland, so I cooked this in our kettle BBQ, which isn’t ideal, but at least it’s outside. It’s hard to get an accurate and consistent temperature in the BBQ, and I usually have trouble judging cooking times. So I cooked the chiporken for a little over 3 hours, at some largely unknown and varying temperature, until a meat thermometer told me it was 175°C in the middle. As it turns out, that meant it was somewhat overcooked on the bottom, a regular feature of roasts done in my BBQ (maybe it’s me?), but it sure looked good from the top!
It wasn’t as tasty as the turducken, but was pretty good, certainly an improvement on plain chicken. And if I do it again, well definitely at least twice as much bacon wrapped around the inside bird.
Thousands of camels were imported into Australia between 1840 and 1907 to be used as transport in this country’s vast arid inland regions. In the 1920′s there were estimated to be 20,000 domesticated animals here, but by 1930, improved rail and motor transport made them redundant and they were released into the bush, where they bred prolifically. The estimated population of one million feral camels in 2009 (and increasing by 10% each year) has a major impact on outback Australia’s native vegetation. Australia has the only wild population of one humped camels in the world.
So, what’s my point? This is a food blog after all. My point is, with all these camels roaming the country, eating native vegetation, damaging waterways, knocking down fences, colliding with cars etc. why is it so hard to buy camel meat? Well, finally, after a year-long quest, a local butcher got in some camel mince and sausages. I missed out on the sausages this time, but there was one pack of mince left.
I’ve written elsewhere on this blog about a kangaroo and emu pie (Coat of Arms) and for the camel pie I used the same recipe, although I only cooked the camel in a pot for about 20 minutes before thickening it a bit with cornflower and filling the pie. A pie looks like a pie, so I didn’t bother with photos, it looked just like the other pie but without the coat of arms. I even resisted the temptation to bake humps into it or make it toe-shaped………….
Camel pie is good. I like strong flavoured pies and the camel meat has a gamey flavour without being overpowering. It is meant to be low in fat, but it had a fatty taste to it (not a bad thing). Was it worth the wait? Yes, although it wasn’t as good as the kangaroo and emu pie. I would certainly like to try the sausages, or some other cut of camel if it becomes available. And it might make an interesting burger.
Well, I’ve eaten salted duck eggs and balut (duck embryos in the egg), so preserved duck eggs were next.
These are also called century eggs or 100 year old eggs. The ingredients list on the packet says ‘calcium ,salt, tea leaves and water’. The eggs are wrapped in a layer of clay with the tea leaves on the outside.
There are a lot of recipes on the internet for using these eggs, but I just wanted to eat them on their own.
If you decide to try these eggs, be warned, they have a strong smell of urine. The egg white becomes a translucent brown colour, and doesn’t have much flavour. The yolk is a deep greyish green, soft in the middle, and tastes like egg with maybe a hint of duck flavour. The yolk is very creamy, and left a quite delicious creamy aftertaste.
But it would take a while to get used to the smell, it’s not surprising that some people think they are preserved by soaking in horse urine.
I have written here before about pig tongues and pig cheeks. I enjoyed them both separately, so it seemed like they should be good together. I started by slow cooking the tongue for several hours, until tender, and then peeling the skin off. The next day I rolled the tongue and some slices of cooking apple in the pig cheek. I would have liked to use a cheek with the skin on but unfortunately it seems to be impossible to buy them like that (unless I wanted 40kgs of them). I tied the roll up with string and roasted it for around 2 hours.
The cheek was not quite big enough to completely enclose the tongue and apple, so it wasn’t quite as neat a looking roll as I wanted. Pork cheeks are extremely fatty, and even though I had trimmed a lot of the fat off, there was still way too much fat on it for me. When I ate the roll hot, I was very disappointed, particularly with the tongue, which was quite dry and had a strong offal flavour. I decided not to throw the rest away, and tried it cold the next day. What a difference! The subtle pork flavours where delicious and the tongue was much more like the pressed tongue I had made before. Overall, it was an interesting experiment, but I don’t think I’ll bother again.
When I made my first batch of maple bacon, I just knew I had to try it with ice cream. I cooked the bacon in the oven, removing excess fat a few times, until the bacon was crispy. I then dribbled maple sauce onto the bacon and cooked it until the maple sauce was no longer runny on the bacon. The bacon was by that time very crispy and quite sweet, and was easy to crumble into little chips. I don’t have an ice cream machine, so I used my sister-in law’s recipe for home made ice cream (thanks Ngaire). I whipped 600ml of cream firm, then stirred through a tin of sweetened condensed milk. I then put it into the freezer until almost frozen and then stirred again to make sure the condensed milk wasn’t all at the bottom. Then add the bacon chips and freeze. Ice cream made this way is quite hard but sweet and creamy. The combination of the sweet ice cream with the crispy bits of salty/sweet bacon was different and delicious. With a little maple syrup dribbled over it, it was a really nice and unusual desert.
I’d had a pack of chicken hearts in the freezer for quite a while, so finally it was time to try them. They’re not much to look at, but a lot of the things I eat are worse looking than this. They had been prepared by the butcher, with the tops cut off, removing any veins, and some of the fat.
I found quite a few different ways to cook the hearts, but I was hungry, so I took the easy option, and just pan fried them in oil, with garlic, until they browned up nicely.
I think they look a lot nicer cooked than raw! And they are so good to eat. A little bit chewy cooked this way, but by no means tough, quite a nice texture really. They had that lovely chicken skin, fatty flavour that I love. I saved a few for the next day and ate them cold, and what a great snack they are. Delicious with a cold beer. It’s a pity that they are high in cholesterol, or I’d eat them often.
Ever since I tried balut, I have intended trying salted duck eggs. So this week when I was pedalling by an Asian Grocery store here on the Sunshine Coast, I stopped, and fortunately they had a few in stock. They are mainly a Chinese dish apparently, but the eggs I bought were bright pink, which is from a dye they use in the Philippines to distinguish between salted and plain duck eggs. The eggs were already cooked, so it was just a case of removing the shells and eating.
As you can see from the photo, they look a bit different to ordinary cooked eggs. The egg white is a bit denser than normal, quite a pleasant texture, but very, very salty. The yolk has a quite a hard lump in the centre, but overall is creamier and heavier than a boiled yolk. It’s a bit salty, but not as bad as the white. It has just a hint of duck flavour, which I didn’t expect, but which I found delicious. I think overall these eggs are too salty to be eaten on their own like I did, but mixed with something that needs saltiness, maybe chopped up on a salad, they would be really good. I’ll have to do some research into recipes using these eggs.