Summer chicken recipes

Date:16-07-2013 07:58:04 read:3

Summer chicken recipes

Sugar and spice and all things nice – come summer that's what chicken is made for.

Pot-roast chicken Photo: YUKI SUGIURA
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One of the tenets of Japanese cooking is balance across a meal. The ideal is to have five colours within one meal, but texture is vital too, and that doesn't just come from the choice of foods you cook, but from the way you cook them. You might have griddled, poached, steamed, braised and fried food all at once. The food I always think can take the greatest range of approaches is chicken. You can't eat it raw, but that's about the only no-no.

We eat chicken year round (when do we not salivate over roast chicken?) but the summer appetite has particular demands, and they are opposing. One is for clean – poached or pot-roasted – chicken. It may not be the most beautiful-looking thing, but remove the skin from a poached or pot-roasted chicken and you are rewarded with tender, moist flesh.

This kind of chicken calls for light, bright, green things: asparagus, broad beans, baby leeks, subtly scented herbs such as chervil. It's good served warm with vinaigrettes that have had a bit of cream added, or in a puddle of broth with an assertive sauce on top. (For a lovely summery version of bollito misto, serve poached or pot-roasted chicken in soup plates with broth, summer vegetables such as green beans, carrots and fresh borlotti beans, and a big spoonful of salsa verde.)

And then there is the summer chicken that isn't light and clean but juicy and messy and eaten ravenously – the griddled stuff. Kebabs, boned thighs, spatchcock poussins. We love charred flesh, caramelised skin, flecks of almost burnt herbs and, if it's been barbecued, infused smokiness. Griddling can be a hassle (though quick): if you've used a sweet marinade, you must cook the flesh through before the juices on the outside burn. Which means anything marinated in honey or sugar (as in the ginger chicken below) can more easily be roasted. If your dish is sweet or spicy serve it with cooling ingredients – mint, yogurt, pickled ginger – and soft breads or wraps to mop up the juices.

For griddling you can get away with less expensive chicken (though I always buy at least Freedom Food birds), as it's the cooking that gives the flavour. But when poaching and pot-roasting get the best bird you can afford.

It won't be long until we're thinking about autumnal stuffings for our roast chicken, so relish the joy of eating griddled chicken in your hands while you can. And don't forget the napkins.

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