The Nitty Gritty
After a week of tarts, soups and salads to start off, today it was down to business getting our hands dirty. This morning we were all cooking chicken dishes so had to joint a chicken with our partner. It wasn't as bad as I thought, apparently it's all about having a very sharp knife, and cutting every last bit of flesh off the bone, nothing wasted here. The carcass, neck and gizzards can be used for stock, and the liver for pate.
My dishes today were Chicken Wings with Sweet Chilli Sauce, Buttered Zucchini with Marjoram and a Crunchy Apple Crumble Tart, a tart with a pastry base and crumble topping. The pastry is a lot of work, chilling it, blind baking and then lining the tin, "a labour of love" as my teacher said. I was happy with how they all came out.
Back to the chicken. Today's chickens were sourced from Dan Ahern in Midleton. Yesterday in the demo, Darina spoke about the differences between organic, free-range chicken, and cheap poultry in the supermarket. She has spoken a lot in the past week about people thinking they have a right to cheap food, but that we get what we pay for.
With organic, you pay for what's not in the chicken. Cheap chickens that are produced intensively usually live less than 30 days. They're sustained by hormones, growth-promoters and antidepressants in some cases. On organic farms they are given about 3 times as long to rear and given organic feed. This additional time means that flavour can develop. They get more exercise so the texture is firmer, no exercise for the animal means soft, undeveloped flesh.
Today's afternoon demo was the first done by Rachel, which we were all excited about. She was lovely and went through a range of Indian-themed recipes, which we'll cook on Thursday.
Roast Aubergine with Saffron Yoghurt and Rocket
Spiced Chicken Legs
Cabbage, Sultana and Fennel Salad
Smokey Aubergine Dip with Pomegranate Seeds - Moutabal (Baba Ganoush)
Two birthdays = Two Cakes
Sunset at Shanagarry Strand on Monday Evening