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Sunday, 17 January 2010

A day of alternatives

Yesterday I cooked two of my favourite things using methods that were different to my normal, tried and trusted methods.  Why?  Well, I fancied a change.  The things I cooked were a no-knead bread loaf and roast chicken.  And unfortunately the new fancier methods didn’t improve either.

First off, the no-knead loaf.  For over a year now I have been baking this bread in a casserole pot with a lid on.  It struck me a couple of days ago I could use my pizza stone instead with the casserole pot up-turned on top of the stone to cover the bread.   Tried this yesterday and although the resultant bread was a pleasing shape (and I found it was much easier to slash the top of the dough) the bread itself wasn’t quite as nice as normal.  The base wasn’t as crunchy and neither was the overall crust.  Don’t think I’ll be repeating this and will be going back to my normal method.  Anyway, here is what the bread looked like:

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The second alternative, was the roast chicken I made last night.  Instead of my tried and tested Nigel Slater method – his classic, unmucked-about-with roast chicken – I followed the supposedly revolutionary Beer Butt Chicken recipe.  This method is a bit of a Ronseal method as it involved putting a half-drunk can of beer up the butt (as the American’s put it) of a chicken and then roasting it.  Apparently the resulting chicken is to die for so I was keen to try it.  So I cracked open a can of Becks Vier, drank half of the can (was a tough job!), stuffed it up the bottom of the chicken and placed the chicken in a roasting tin with some garlic and celery.  I had already covered the chicken in a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  By the way, it was a corn fed chicken hence the yellow colour:

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I then roasted it for 1.5 hours and this was what it looked like at the end:

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And this was what the final meal looked like:

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So how did the chicken taste?  Well, it was very nice.  But was it nicer than my 10 year old tried and tested method?  No.  The breast meat was a little drier than normal and didn’t justify the more fiddly method.  The chicken fell down a couple of times during the cooking so I had to stay in the kitchen the whole time listening out to check it didn’t fall over again.  So although the method appealed to the Neanderthal Man lurking deep within me – beer and chicken, what an amazing combination! – I don’t think I’ll be repeating this soon.

So the moral of this story is that if you get consistently great results using your normal methods, there is no need to change them!

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