The food clock: a year of cooking seasonally, 320pp.
by Fast Ed Halmagyi
HarpersCollinsPublishers, Sydney, 2012
Cooking on page 32
This is second time I have cooked from a book by Fast Ed Halmagyi. The first was his flavour-packed and huge muffuletta sandwich, which appeared in his cookbook, An hour’s the limit.
The food clock is more than a cookbook. In addition to 150 recipes, it combines short stories and sketches about a fictional Monsieur Henri Petit-Pois as he potters through the year in his garden, home and community. The recipes are simple to prepare and make the most of fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Chicken with black olives and oregano
4 chicken marylands (thigh with drumstick attached)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
90g (1/2 cup) marinated black olives, halved and pitted
1/2 preserved lemon (skin only), thinly sliced
250g cherry tomatoes
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 bunch of oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then sear in a large frying pan with the olive oil over high heat for 3 minutes, turning several times until well browned.
Mix in the olives and preserved lemon, then turn the heat to moderate and fit the lid. Cook gently for 15 minutes until the chicken is firm to the touch, then add the tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes until the tomatoes are softened and the chicken juices run clear when pierced at the joint.
Stir in the fennel and chilli, scatter over the oregano, then serve immediately.
How it played out
I first heard of the chicken cut called maryland (thigh with attached leg) when I came to Australia in the 1980s. It’s not an expression I ever heard in the USA, but perhaps it has regional usage. All I know is that it’s the perfect combination for dark meat lovers like all of us.
This recipe is easy-to-make, so I followed the instructions. That said, I cooked the chook (Aussie slang for chicken) in my Le Creuset frypan because the lid fits tightly. The pan’s enamel coating keeps the chicken from browning completely, but that’s more an appearance than flavour issue.
The preserved lemon was from a batch my friend, Caroline, and I made last year. What a treat. Feeling brave, I used the mandolin to cut the fennel. Someday I’ll get used to that finger-slicing fiend.
While I like fennel—and am especially fond of a raw fennel salad with lemon and Parmesan cheese—I allowed the fennel to cook for a few minutes to take the edge off its rawness.
We thoroughly enjoyed the chicken, olive and oregano, but were rather disappointed with the fennel. It seemed to be an after-thought ingredient and I wouldn’t use it again in this recipe. Everything else about this recipe worked for us.
Oh, and I just realised that most of the pics don’t show much of the oregano garnish. My garden is overrun with oregano, but I took all these pics before I had sprinkled it liberally over the entire dish. Hey, these things happen.
If you’re a fan of chicken, you might like the post I did on a couple of fellows dealing with 20 kilos of chicken in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Or check out the amazing chef we encountered when we stayed at a classy campground on the banks of the Ganges River in India.