Diane Henry’s new book of chicken recipes is very good but she missed a trick in not including Simon Hopkinson’s recipe for a chicken terrine made with garlic and basil.
The recipe appears in his book Week In, Week Out which is a collection of the articles that he wrote whilst he was The Independent’s food writer. It was one of those recipes that you know is going to become an old friend as soon as you read it.
I have cooked it a few times over the years but last nights was the best. This was helped by the fact I had bought a good tasty well bred chicken from the Farmer’s Market over the weekend.
Most of the cooking was done on Tuesday evening. The first stage involves removing the skin from the chicken doing your best to avoid tears and keeping it one piece. This is not as difficult as it might at first seem. It is a question of wriggling your fingers between the skin and the pink flesh and allowing the skin to gently pull away. But you need a sharp knife to cut round the wings and the legs.
Once the skin was off it was put to one side and the same sharp knife was then used to cut away as much of the meat of the chicken away from its bones as possible. The meat was then chopped up into good sized chunks and mixed with a handful of basil leaves, crushed garlic, the zest of a lemon, grated nutmeg and salt and pepper. At this stage of the recipe Simon Hopkinson encourages the reader to use his or her hands to mix through the flavourings with the chicken. As always a good idea. The meat then needs to stuffed back into the skin. It is surprising how stretchy the skin is and you will pleased with yourself as it just about manages to cover the meat again.
This is then all put in an appropriately sized bread tin and covered in foil. This is then put in a large pan of hot water which then goes into the oven for about an hour and an half.
Whilst that cooking a jelly is made with the bones, a pigs foot rescued from the bottom of the freezer, an onion and a carrot. This goes into a pan with water and cooks at a slow heat for a couple of hours. as it cooks it will give off a grey scum the comes to the surface. skim this off with a spoon and discard.
When the chicken is done put it to one side for a while to settle. To check it is done it should be surrounded by clear fat and when poked with a knife give off a clear juice. Put a weight on top of it. I used some old tiles knocked into the right shape and then wrapped up in foil. This can then go in the fridge to rest until you are ready to eat.
Drain the stock which should hopefully be reasonably clear. To help it along drain it again through a clean teatowl. Put in a bowl to set overnight.
We ate it with new potatoes with butter and chives, beetroot (orange and purple) and salad from the garden. And a caramilised garlic tart.
In the meantime there are courgette flowers to be had out in the garden.