- Food & Drink
Chicken in cumin sauce
As anyone who’s had the misfortune to walk through a town centre with me will confirm, I can’t resist a charity shop. I have to go in and inspect the cookery books, looking for original, interesting or just plain sticky, well-used tomes.
One of my latest buys (£2.50, thank you Peckham Scope) was Seven Hundred Years of English Cooking by Maxime McKendry. With a joint of pink beef glistening on the cover, it romps through the history of English food, giving the original recipe and a modern interpretation of dishes such as 14th century roast peacock (tricky to recreate unless you have an ornamental garden near you and a bag big enough to hold an angry peacock), 17th century Bartelmas beef, Victorian whim-whams and 20th century tomato soufflés.
Encouraged to bring history to life, I hunted down a copy of Pleyn Delit for more inspiration and consequently I’ve popped on a cap and veil, strewn my kitchen with hay and stopped brushing my teeth. That’s right, I’m cooking like it’s 1499 and I’ve started with Chicken in cumin sauce.
The recipe has been given a little tweaking, with honey added in at the end to round out the flavours and I fried the bacon in duck fat because I have some in my fridge (just fry the bacon in its own fat if you’re short on poultry lard, adding oil to fry the chicken if necessary). It’s a hearty, savoury dish that’s good with buttered winter greens and slabs of bread for dipping.
Chicken in cumin sauce
500ml bottle beer (I used Pedigree)
100g day old wholemeal bead, torn into small pieces
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp duck fat
2 rashers good quality back bacon, chopped
1 (1.7–2kg) chicken, jointed into 8 pieces
1 tbsp honey
1 Place the beer, bread, spices and salt in a bowl and stir to mix. Set aside.
2 Melt the duck fat in a large casserole dish over a medium high heat. Add the bacon and fry, stirring, until golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon or tongs, shaking off the fat. Add the chicken pieces and fry, turning once, for about 15–20 minutes, until golden brown on both sides – you’ll probably need to do this in 2 batches.
3 Blitz the beer and bread with a hand-held blender to combine into a smooth sauce. Return the chicken to the casserole. Add the beer sauce with the bacon and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 1 hour, until the chicken is tender.
4 Lift the chicken out of the pan with tongs and arrange on a warm serving platter. Stir the honey into the sauce, taste and season. Serve with buttered green vegetables and bread.