I recently tried a tomatillo salsa verde kit from Riverford.co.uk – it’s an organic veg box scheme which I’ve been subscribed to for just over a year now. I love Riverford’s ultra foody approach, and of course, I love trying new things – so when they offered a kit for £4.95 to make your own tomatillo salsa, I jumped on it!
Tomatillos aren’t common here (I had only ever seen one once before I got this kit!) but they’re an important ingredient in Mexican cooking. They look like green tomatoes with papery skins.
The kit came with a head of garlic, a punnet of tomatillos, a red onion, coriander, chillies, and a lime. Everything you need to make this recipe minus the sugar and salt!
The kit was amazingly good value, and a great way of trying out tomatillos. I’ll definitely buy them again if I get the chance – and it sounds like the crop was successful, so hopefully they’ll be growing some more next year!
Anyway, this recipe is a bit of a weird one – a whole chicken baked in milk with lemon zest, garlic and sage… Courtesy of Jamie Oliver (again) from Happy Days with the Naked Chef. I’m starting to think that Mr. Oliver is the king of the whole chicken – I thought it was Nigella that was always roasting a bird…
Here’s the costing.
Tesco Organic chicken : £7.27
Half pack of butter (!) : 47p
Bunch sage : 68p
Half a cinnamon stick: from cupboard
2 lemons (unwaxed): 62p
One bulb garlic : 30p
1 pint milk : 45p
Grand total : £9.79.
There’s the chook – another organic one. Mr. Oliver – do you have shares in an organic chicken farm…? I never can tell the difference. Will I be lynched for saying that? It seems like a foodie crime.
This recipe makes me weep – look at that giant block of butter at the back there. Guess what you do with that beauty? Use it for frying and then…. throw it away. Oh no, I don’t think so! I used some of it to cook some pink fir apple potatoes, and very nice they were too. Throw it away, psh.
Right, so the first thing you need to do is turn these:
Looking at the picture for Jamie’s version of this, his lemon zest is more like lemon peel. I did try to do it like that, but my knives defeated me.
So these are the flavourings of your chicken in milk. Cinnamon, garlic and lemon zest – and of course, your sage.
Get your butter, melt it in a pan, and then brown the chicken off. There’s a lot of butter and the chicken is very big and delicate, so it’s slightly easier said than done to move the chicken around in the pan without breaking its skin. I ended up using two wooden spoons like a pair of forceps.
Did it in the end though – and doesn’t it look delicious? DO NOT EAT, though – this is slightly underdone…
Chuck away the butter (sob sob) and then return the chicken to the pan with the half a cinnamon stick, the sage, the zest of two lemons, the 10 cloves of unskinned garlic and the milk.
Looks appetising, but kinda weird.
Now, you roast and baste, roast and baste. Roast and baste for an hour and a half, which is the standard cooking time for roasting a 1.5kg bird (see, I’ve learnt something!). If you’ve diligently basted and roasted, this is what you end up with:
Looks pretty exotic, I think! The idea is that the lemon zest slightly curdles the milk and you end up with a split lemony milk sauce which you eat along with the chicken, some mashed potatoes and some wilted greens. We ate ours with roasted pink fir apple potatoes and some spinach.
The milk sauce didn’t split that much. It was very unusual, to say the least – pretty much what you would expect when you infuse garlic, lemon and sage in milk. The cinnamon didn’t show up so much – I blame it on the fact that cinnamon sticks really vary in how long they are. Is that a foodie joke: how long is a cinnamon stick?
M gave it 7.5. He said it was ‘all right’. This is his standard answer to things when he doesn’t know what I want him to say.
I gave it 7. It was nice, very unusual, but I can’t see the point of doing it other than it was exotic and weird. Maybe the lemon didn’t really work so well for me, because the sauce was just a little odd. Nice, but the kind of thing you’re not totally sure about and stop eating halfway through. Maybe a bit rich…
On the other hand, it did provide me with a pint of curdy lemony milk and chicken stock which I used in a potato soup, and some creamy chicken flesh that went really nicely in a risotto…