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.
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.
This is a recipe from Fergus Henderson’s book ‘Nose To Tail Eating’, and is something I have wanted to try for quite some time, but I’ve had a lot of trouble getting hold of pig’s spleens. Finally, after waiting about 2 months, a butcher managed to get me some. I have never seen a spleen before, so I was a bit surprised at how long they are, the biggest one was over 45cm.
They had a layer of fat on one side which I cut off, you can see in the photo above where the fat was attached down the middle of the spleen. With the spleen laid flat, it was easy to place several sage leaves along it, then a couple of slices of smokey bacon with the rind removed were laid lengthwise on top. It was then easy to roll it all up and push through a skewer to hold it in the roll.
The spleens were then placed in a casserole dish, covered with chicken stock and into a medium oven for 90 minutes. They were then left to cool in the stock before slicing and serving cold.
Anyone who likes liver will enjoy these as the taste is similar but not as strong. They are probably more like chicken than lamb liver, with maybe just a hint of pork flavour. I would have expected the bacon to overpower the spleens, but it didn’t. I think that is the genius of Fergus, he gets a fantastic balance of flavours. The amazing thing about the spleens is their texture, so soft and creamy, just like a really good pate.
Here’s something I hadn’t heard of last week. Then I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdains TV show ‘No Reservations’. He was in Uruguay, and judging by the amount of meat they eat there, it is where I should live, or at least visit. Anyway, the chivito sandwiches looked pretty good, so I googled a recipe and got into it. A trip to my new favourite butcher, Master Meats at Mooloolaba, and I had bacon and ham, both smoked on site and delicious, and grass fed eye fillet steaks from King Island. A couple of large white bread buns from the bakery next door and I was ready.
Bacon was cooked until crisp and then set aside. Steaks were about 2 cm thick, so I butterflied them and pounded them to under 1 cm thick before cooking for a couple of minutes on each side in the pan the bacon came out of. I also cooked onion, and fried eggs until the yokes just turned hard. Tomato sauce and mayonaise were mixed together and spread onto the bottom half of the bun, then lettuce was added. Next was the steak followed by 3 slices of bacon and a couple of slices of ham. Then the onion and sliced tomato were added and the lot was topped with sliced mozzarella and placed under a grill to melt the cheese. Then the egg was put on top, with more sauce and mayo, and the top of the bun put on.
As you can see, this was a big, full sandwich (really more what we would call a burger) and it was necessary to cut it in half to have any hope of eating it.
The combination of tastes were amazing, with the steak and ham complemented by the bacon (and what doesn’t taste nicer with bacon in it?) The sandwich was big, juicy, messy and extremely filling. An awesome meal, I can only imagine how nice real Uruguayan chivitos must be.
I read in the paper recently about a Sunshine Coast butcher making award winning sausages. I have eaten gourmet sausages before, most recently from a market in Melbourne, and have been unimpressed. They are mostly nice but not spectacular, and not usually worth the premium price charged. But I’m a slow learner and obviously influenced by the media, so on the weekend, off I went to Master Meats at Mooloolaba to buy a few. Walking into the shop is like being hit in the face with the best piece of bacon you ever had, the butchers have a smoke room at the back of the shop, and I think the aroma is probably the nicest I have ever smelled. I’m sure the smell alone doubled the number of sausages I bought. They make a good range of gourmet sausages, we tried Pork and orange with honey blueberries, Turkey cointreau and dill, Red wine beef and caramelized onion, Calabrese ( flavours of fennel,garlic and cayene pepper), Lemon chicken and Chicken orange and thyme. The Pork and orange and Turkey and cointreau are the flavours that won awards. All the sausages are flour and preservative free. They were all very jucy when cooked and had a much courser texture than your average sausage and I like that. It really makes them seem more substantial. They were all very good sausages, but to me, the Pork and orange and the Lemon chicken were spectacular. I rarely eat sausages but that might now change. It’s now Wednesday and I’ve already been back for more!
Chicken and orange, Turkey and Pork
One of the nice touches with Master Meats is that each variety of sausage comes in a separate labelled bag (on request) so you can tell which is which when you get them home. So if you’re on the Sunshine Coast and like a good sausage, pop in and try these. And while you’re there, I also recommend you try the smoked bacon, it’s really good. (And no, I don’t have any affiliation with this business other than as a new and very happy customer!)
It’s a long time since I have eaten pigs feet, and way back then I think I only tried them once, so it was time to try them again. A bit of research showed a variety of ways to prepare the feet, I decided in the end to make jellied feet, which appears popular in Hungary and Poland. As is my usual way when first trying a new food item, I decided not to hide the flavour in any way, so I cooked the feet with just an onion in a slow cooker until the meat and skin fell off the bones. After removing the bones, I finely chopped the meat, skin and tendons, and put it all into moulds then into the fridge for the night. The next day, when popped out of the moulds, they were set solid.
As you can see, there wasn’t much meat on them, but there wasn’t a lot of fat either. I dipped them in egg and breadcrumbs on both sides and then briefly pan fried them, just long enough to heat them slightly and brown the bread crumbs.
And the result? They had a very gelatinous texture, not at all chewy, with a very mild pork flavour. Not the kind of thing I would bother to eat a lot of. I will do them again, but with added flavours of perhaps carrots and celery, and a few spices and definitely more meat. Perhaps use a few feet for the gelatin with a pork knuckle for more meat. Maybe even make a loaf to slice and serve cold.
I recently bought quail eggs for the first time (because they look so good), and needed some way of using them. The tiny size of these eggs makes them ideal for appertisers, so I simply hard boiled the eggs. I cut a couple of slices of toast into small squares, spread a little ricotta onto them, then added the prosciutto and half an egg. Topped off with a little parsley, this made a very tasty appertiser which was quick and easy to prepare.