Consider me admonished. All those empty promises to update the blog and then another week (and a bit) slips by. Scary stuff. So consider me admonished, blogging diarised and normal service to be resumed re foodie stuff.
I've been trying to take a wee break from the manic dining for reasons of economics and waistline and, having shed a couple of inches - just another six or so to go then! - and having finally rotavated the remainder of the plot, I'm feeling a little more energised. That heavy allotment work has been a long time coming but was worthwhile: we now have a full plot (a stupidly big 33m x 9m plot if you want specifics) we can grow on and space - finally! - to put a polytunnel. After two years of no tomatoes, that's a very good thing indeed.
Anyway, more on that as nature provides. Here's something that nature has already provided which, for want of a better word, I'm calling Chicken Toast.
I'm a big fan of the Simon Hopkinson approach to food and, personally, agree with his notion that people want to be chefs before they can cook. I'm on a mission to turn myself into a decent cook and I think I'm doing okay. I'm very happy with my roast chicken, for example - which is basically Simon's recipe with a little extra garlic and one more lemon. This results in loads of sharp, salty, meaty juices in the bottom of the pan and, after an afternoon spent merrily mopping it all up with some decent bread, I started to wonder if the bread and juices could be made more part of the meal, without having to chuck the roasting tray on the table. And they can...
I was down at Borough a couple of weeks ago and picked up a chicken from the game people on that middle row. I've usually done the Label Anglais thing but this time I didn't want loads of dark meat for curries or leftovers, I just wanted a good, tasty bird we could demolish over a couple of days and £8 for a Goosnargh chicken seemed to fit the bill.
So, the bird was "dressed" in the the juice of two lemons, a load of butter and plenty of salt and pepper. The lemon halves and a few garlic cloves were thrown inside and the whole thing was whacked in the oven and basted regularly for the next 90 minutes or so. The result? Skin that was crispy and addictive, tender meat that delivered amazing flavour and, after a decent rest, a tray full of butter, lemon and roasting juices.
With the oven getting back up to temperature, I sliced a good crusty ciabatta from Rhodes Bakery - I'd hoped to use Tortano but this was a good back-up option. I then took the slices, coated both sides in the juices and left them in the pan. The pan went back in the oven for 10 minutes or so and then I finished the slices off under the grill. I then served the chicken with a little potato salad, some chopped peppers, tomatoes, onions and avocado (dressed in freshly squeezed lime and orange juice, a current addiction), lots of fresh, peppery winter leaves from the allotment and a couple of slices of the now crispy, fat-soaked ciabatta. The words "nom" and "nom" sprang immediately to mind.
The best bit though? A couple of days later, I had the last slice of the golden, chicken-infused bread as the base for cheese on toast, made with Montgomery's Cheddar. And I'll be very surprised if anything else I eat this year comes close to being that good.