Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Unseasonal pleasures

It has been a dry March, so the Met Office tells us. I believe them. The last few days in particular have been pretty nice, except a spell of dullness and light rain on Sunday. However, Saturday was so warm and sunny that my friends and I decided to break out the barbecue for the first time this year. Yes - a barbecue, in northern England, before the spring equinox. But it was a good decision, because we had a great time, and although it got cool by dusk, we were more than adequately warmed by the glowing coals (which, using my friend's thermocouple thermometer, were clocked at around 1050ÂșC).

I made punch, a recipe that calls for the unlikely combination of bourbon, pineapple, passionfruit, maple syrup and sparkling wine, which had been a hit a few years ago, but I wasn't totally happy with it - not fizzy enough. However, I also threw together a dish that was delicious, so I thought I'd share it.

Barbecue garlic, lemon and herb chicken
serves 3
  • 1 chicken
  • several cloves of garlic, peeled
  • sea salt
  • black peppercorns
  • 1 lemon
  • fresh rosemary
  • fresh bay leaves
  • olive oil
  • method
  1. Joint the chicken. There are plenty of guides on the internet, but it really boils down to using a sharp, thin-bladed (boning) knife, and following the contours of the meat so you separate it into natural portions (I got 6 - the wings, leg-thighs, and breasts). Remember to leave the skin on, to protect the meat when it's grilled. The carcass does for stock.
  2. In a pestle and mortar, pound the garlic with salt, then pepper, to form a paste. Smear it all over the chicken pieces, and put them into a bowl.
  3. Zest and juice the lemon; sprinkle these over the chicken. Crush the rosemary in the pestle and mortar, and sprinkle this over too. Take the bay leaves and slide one under the skin of each portion.
  4. Cover with clingfilm. Leave to marinate for a couple of hours, or overnight. Before cooking, drizzle with oil to keep the meat moist.
notes and substitutions
Ready-bought chicken pieces would be fine, so long as they have the skin on. Other herbs could be used, such as thyme or mint; dried bay leaves would be okay, but they will probably crumble a little. Although I made it for a barbecue, the chicken would just as easily grill or bake in a conventional oven.

Today has been barbecue weather again - maybe even warmer than Saturday. I've been tempted to break out my own barbecue, but I will resist for now.

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