The chicken is probably the most intensively reared animal in modern agriculture. Chicken produces a highly versatile meat which up until the early 20th century was considered a luxury food.
Sadly due to intensive farming techniques which are driven by consumer demand for cheap protein most of the chicken consumed in Ireland is now of poor culinary quality. Even worse a large amount of poultry is simply processed in Ireland in order to allow the meat carry a ‘produce of Ireland label’.
This practice of misinformation should be stopped, as allowing consumers to make an informed choice on what they eat must be among the most basic of rights. There is a reason some chicken can be sold for half nothing, farmers who want to produce quality produce are being forced to make what are often distressing compromises in order to make a living.
The meat from chicken is often pumped with water based solutions to give the meat more weight. Free range and organic poultry is expensive but a little imagination can make quality Irish chicken go a long way and still be surprisingly affordable.
Chicken risotto made using a stock made from organic chicken bones finished with field mushrooms, chicken wings cooked on the barbecue, or chicken legs stuffed with pistachio and apricot for something a little more on the fancy side. The secret of making the best poultry affordable is through avoiding the breast meat of the bird and making the best use possible of the secondary cuts.
Chicken leg with pistachio and apricot
1 chicken leg per person
4 dried apricots
8 pistachio nuts de-shelled
20 gram chicken breast meat
20 gram fresh cream
5 gram fresh tarragon
Salt and black pepper to season
A little oil for frying
Bone out the chicken leg (your butcher will do this for you ). Puree the chicken breast, cream, and tarragon together and season lightly.
Stuff the leg with the tarragon paste and then place the pistachio on top of the stuffing, place the apricots on top of the pistachio and fold the leg into a sausage shape with the skin on the outside. Using cling film which is suitable for cooking, wrap the chicken leg in a sausage shape and insure the leg is well sealed.
Cook the leg in boiling water until the internal temperature reaches 73°C, use a probe thermometer to determine the temperature. Remove the cling film and brown the skin in a hot frying pan. Carve and serve.
30 ml white wine
50 ml chicken stock
1 shallot chopped fine
40 ml fresh cream
10 gram chopped tarragon
Place the wine and shallot into a pot and boil down by half. Add the stock and cream and reduce (thicken by evaporation ) until a sauce consistency is achieved. Finish the sauce with the chopped tarragon, season and serve.