It may not be classic barbecue season but in fact, a barbecue is a great way to cook your Christmas dinner! In particular, we love the slightly smoky quality imparted by a Big Green Egg. If you’ve never heard of the Egg, it’s a ceramic barbecue shaped like, yes, you guessed it, a big green egg!
Recently, Cookery School’s owner, Rosalind, and her friend Freddy spent a day experimenting with her Egg and despite the fact the day was cold and wet and night closed in very quickly, they were so excited about trying out a few new recipes that they scarcely noticed the weather conditions!
Freddy has been running successful popup restaurants across the UK for the last 5 years. He loves experimenting with world cuisines and fusion food with a healthy twist, and from time to time he goes back to his Italian roots – to remind himself of where it all began.
Here’s Rosalind’s account of her first session of Christmas recipe testing on the Egg, using chicken instead of turkey, as the same principles apply…
First of all we roasted two beautiful Sheepdrove Organic Farm chickens which always taste great. One of them had been ‘brined’ in a very lightly salted apple juice brine and the other was cooked with its breast covered with unsmoked streaky Sheepdrove bacon to keep it good and moist. Alongside them we placed 3 large organic onions in their skins.
Once the Egg was hot – this took about 10 minutes – we popped the tray containing the chickens in to cook. We cooked them at 180 degrees C and because we were peckish and wanted to speed up the cooking process, pushed the temperature up to 200 degrees C for the last three quarters of an hour. The smell emanating from the garden was so enticing and we could scarcely wait for the cooking to end.
Whilst the chickens were roasting, we put a tray of sweet potatoes in to roast underneath them. These were simply dusted with chilli, cinnamon and a little cumin and again coated in olive oil.
With everything cooking, we quickly kneaded a batch of white bread dough. This was made into crudely shaped rolls but because of the time constraint, not allowed to rise on either the first or second proves. Once the chicken and sweet potato were cooked, we threw the rolls onto the ceramic base which we dusted with flour and allowed them to cook at a high temperature for about 15 minutes. We were cold and hungry and as the rolls came out of the Egg, we split them, buttered them super generously and scoffed them very quickly.
In fact, we realised that the rolls had been baked at too high a temperature. Whilst 350 degrees F may be fine for pizza, it was too high for bread. Next time round, the rolls will be perfect!
We then tasted the chickens. Whilst both were very tasty with a slightly smoked flavour, the apple juice brined chicken tasted sensational. The bacon covered one was delicious but not in the same league as the brined bird. In future we are going to brine all chickens with apple juice as well as trying the brine out on other roasted meats too.
We cut the roasted onions in half, salted them and ate their contents with a spoon. They were equally wonderful.
Cannot wait for our next session where we have a host of really special dishes to try out…watch this space!