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.
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’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.
An Asian restaurant in the Brisbane suburb of Sunnybank had a selection of BBQ takeaway in the window, including duck tongue. I had seen duck tongues in the butcher shop a few doors down, but they were expensive and I had no idea what to do with them, so buying ready cooked tongues seemed like a good idea at the time. Unfortunately I couldn’t just get one to try, so a very small handful of these cost me $6.50, not a cheap snack. But that’s the price you sometimes pay to eat weird stuff. I resisted the temptation of asking if I could put them on my bill (a duck joke). Ducks tongues are small, about 4-5 cms (but bigger than I thought would fit in a ducks head).
Towards the back of the tongue there is a bone, but there is actually a suprising amount of meat on each tongue (it’s probably not actually meat, has the texture of tender well cooked cartilage). Now, I don’t know what is in a Chinese BBQ marinade, but I do know I don’t like it! All the BBQed meat in the shop had a similar almost greyish, greasy appearance, and the taste of the tongues was unlike anything I have eaten. And that wasn’t a good thing, I thought they were bloody awful. Apparently duck tongues should have a duck flavour but these didn’t. So the experience was very disappointing, but I will try again if I can get them prepared differently.
A couple of years ago, after first hearing about balut, which is an almost fully developed duck embryo still in the shell, I couldn’t think of anything that sounded worse to eat. Well, that was then and this is now. After the Wildfoods festival, I think I can eat anything! So I’ve been searching for balut, without success, until yesterday I found them at an Asian food store here on the Sunshine Coast. Balut is a very popular street food in the Philipines apparently. Today was the day, an exciting new lunch, so a bit of research indicated I should boil the eggs for about half an hour. No problems there, even I can boil eggs. I let them cool a little after cooking, and carefully broke away a small section of shell so I could drink the ‘broth’ inside. There wasn’t much, but it tasted delicious. I can’t quite pick the flavour, maybe a cross between egg and duck (there’s a surprise!), quite strong, and a lovely aroma. Then it was time to carefully remove the shell. I have to admit, balut isn’t the nicest looking snack I’ve tried.
And breaking it up to eat it doesn’t make it look any better.
The yellow yolk tastes just like egg yolk, but maybe a bit stronger, and the embryo itself was a bit chewy with a sort of flavour and texture that might come from overcooked boiled duck (not that I’ve tried that). The egg white part was so hard and rubbery I didn’t even bother to try it. I actually quite enjoyed the flavour and would probably eat balut again, but I’m not going to rush out and buy more in the near future.
I had chicken gizzards recommended to me by someone who knows I like to try different things. Although gizzards appear to be quite a popular food in many parts of the world, I couldn’t find any here on the Sunshine Coast, so when I saw a pack of them at a supermarket in Queenstown, NZ I bought them. Before I had a chance to cook them, I visited a Sake bar that had gizzards on the menu so naturally (for me) I tried them. For my money, I got about ten gizzards on a skewer, and they were quite chewy, with not a lot of flavour. Of course, that encouraged me to go home and try cooking my own and doing a better job of it. I simply took the gizzards, washed and dried them, then fried them in a pan. And sure enough, they were just like the sake bar ones, really rubbery and not a lot of flavour.
So I guess I need to find out more about cooking them if I try them again. I really can’t believe they would be popular if this is as good as they get. Now, you might wonder what a photo of my daughters cat has to do with this story. You can see by the size of him that he doesn’t say no to food very often. Well, you guessed it, he was offered gizzards, both raw and cooked, and on both occassions he sniffed them and walked away. The ultimate critique of a meal.
(a cat scan?…sorry)