Tag Archives: groundnut oil

Thyme and Tonka Bean Chicken

Tonka Beans, in a square white bowl, with shadow.

Did I mention already that I think the combination of thyme and tonka bean tastes like tarragon? Not exactly like tarragon – if that were the case it would be easier just to use tarragon! – but a grassier, less aniseedy version. They’re beautifully versatile little buggers these tonka beans, with a vanilla-like freshness that works just as well in sweet dishes [like my Christmas Pudding Ice Cream] as it does with chicken and fish. I swear I detected some yesterday too in the Pork Pibil which I had at Wahaca’s Southbank porta-cabin pop-up, though the recipes I’ve found online make no mention.

I’ve used the pairing here to update a recipe which I first shared in My St Margarets Magazine a couple of years ago. And I’ve changed the method too to produce an easy, prepare-ahead dish for summer entertaining, not least because I know the Lakeland Taxi Driver has a lunch party for twelve this Sunday! This version comfortably serves six, I’m sure you can do the maths. A recent road test played to rave reviews in a packed garden, hopefully your guests will feel the same.

For the chicken

  • A 1.5-1.7kg bird, and a lidded pot into which it fits snugly
  • A large bunch of thyme
  • One onion, finely sliced
  • 300ml white wine
  • 1/3 of a tonka bean, grated with a micro-plane or nutmeg grater
  • Sea salt and black pepper

For the mayonnaise*

  • 1 large egg yolk, and 1 large whole egg
  • 350ml groundnut oil
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of Dijon mustard
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsps white wine vinegar

Prepare and cook the chicken as per my recipe for Pot Roast Chicken Veronique [ignore the bit about the Verjuice syrup for this recipe]. Don’t forget to season the bird well, inside and out. Grate the tonka bean over the chicken before you pour over the wine. When the chicken is cooked set it aside to cool. Strain the cooking juices and reduce to one third of their original volume. Let this cool too.

To make the mayonnaise blitz the egg, yolk, salt and mustard in a food processor. Then with the motor running start to add the oil – drop by drop to begin with, then in a thin stream, and then as the sauce emulsifies and begins to bulk up you can increase your rate of pouring. Add the vinegar to the finished mayonnaise with the motor still running. I’ve only just started making mayonnaise and now I can’t stop! It’s proper magical kitchen alchemy, and nowhere near as scary as everyone makes it out to be.

*If you don’t plan to make your own mayonnaise please use a decent ready made one – this really is no time for bog standard factory nonsense!

Roughly tear the flesh from the legs, breasts and back of the bird and scatter into a dish. Take a couple of small ladles of the reduced juices [about 60 ml] and mix into the mayonnaise, and taste. If you feel it needs more, add some. And perhaps add another small shaving of tonka bean, but do it with a light hand, if at all. The flavour could easily dominate, and will build as the dish rests.

Coat your chicken with the enriched mayonnaise, stir well, cover and refrigerate overnight. To serve give it half an hour or so out of the fridge, and decorate with some chopped parsley, a grind or two of black pepper, and some lemon slices – or some watercress, or perhaps pea shoots. It will need a little garnish as although it’s delicious it can look a tad monotone without. This deserves to take centre stage, so make sure it’s dressed to impress!

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Wallpaper* Duck

This is the duck just before it goes into the oven.

It will come as either a great disappointment or a huge relief to discover that this recipe does not in fact contain any wallpaper. Duck yes, Sanderson print or Anaglypta no. The name comes from the fact that I have based this on one which appeared in the launch issue of Wallpaper* Magazine way back in 1996.

When Tyler Brûlé’s original style bible first hit the newsstands I was one of the salivating fashionistas desperately drooling over the dreamily hip lifestyle portrayed within its pages. The editor’s eye for a handsome male model [first time I’d seen two pretty boys cavorting in an expensive hotel pool for a mainstream magazine travel piece!] certainly didn’t hurt.

Fifteen years on it’s interesting to see what has and hasn’t changed in the world of über-cool lifestyle publishing. In the resources section of the launch issue not a single supplier lists a ‘website’, and the London phone numbers begin with either 0171 or 0181 [not many of the latter though!]. But you could take just about any of the pieces devoted to beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes and surrounded by beautiful stuff and drop them into a magazine tomorrow and I swear no-one would bat a perfectly mascara-ed eyelid.

One thing that has certainly endured through the years for me though is my somewhat re-calibrated version of this dish. Perhaps it’s just a sign of the ever increasing speed with which the fashion wheel spins that when I make this roughly two or three times a year it now probably counts as a ‘revival’! The original came from a piece about how we trendy young things were reclaiming and re-inventing Sunday lunch, and even came with a playlist. Whatever day you choose to serve it, just don’t forget to be ravishingly beautiful when you do…

For two, though there may be some leftover sauce to play with

  • 2 duck legs
  • 1 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3cm ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 150ml light chicken stock
  • 200ml red wine
  • 50ml Japanese soy sauce
  • Chinese five spice powder
  • 2 soupspoons runny honey
  • 2 whole star anise

Preheat your oven to 180˚C. In a heavy lidded casserole on a highish heat brown the duck legs all over and season them with salt and pepper as you go, then remove them from the pot and the pot from the heat, and pour off all but a scant tablespoonful of the fat which will have been rendered from the duck [excess duck fat can be saved and used later for roast potatoes]. Pop this back onto a gentle heat and sauté the garlic and ginger until softened but not coloured. Add all the liquids and simmer for five minutes.

Smear the browned duck legs with the five spice powder and return them to the pan. The liquid should come to no higher than halfway up the legs, and if scaling up this recipe keep the proportions the same but only add enough liquor to reach the same height in your pan. Drizzle a soupspoon of honey over each leg and top it with a star anise. Cover and give this an hour and fifteen minutes in the oven.

Whack the oven up to 230˚C, remove the duck from the sauce and place them back in the oven [on a tray] to crisp up the skin a little. Meanwhile strain the sauce into a pan and reduce gently. You can thicken this with cornflour, or glaze and emulsify with a little chilled butter if you like.

I like to serve this with moulded rings of twice-baked potato [coming soon!] and simply steamed pack-choi, the irony bitterness of the greens being a great foil for the very rich sauce. But this week it was asparagus as I’m eating it just about every day before the season ends.

Wallpaper duck plated up with twice baked potatoes and asparagus.

There are uses for any leftover sauce and options with the potato which we will return to at a later stage…