Wednesday, 9 September 2009

John Torode's Chicken and Other Birds

Chicken is my least favourite meat. I like it, of course; but I think there are much tastier meats out there. Pork tops this list. When Quadrille Publishing asked me if I'd like to review this cookbook, I said yes as I could do with more interesting chicken recipes. Besides which, it also involves other birds, such as pigeon, pheasant and partridge which I've had minimal experience of cooking.

The book has beautifully styled photos which are drool-worthy. Torode writes well, in a no-nonsense, straight-forward fashion and given that his last book was simply titled 'Beef', he gives the impression that he knows his meat. There's no flowery language here. It's split into chapters including soups, curries, barbeque and roasts, and helpfully it also includes a step by step guide on how to joint a chicken, something I've always been too daunted to try myself. I haven't quite got round to it yet, but it's a good cost saving trick as you'll get more for your money by buying chickens whole. In addition to this, there's an extensive list detailing the different birds, as well as when the game seasons begin and end; a very handy guide. I didn't even know there was an edible bird called Ptarmigan until I read this. There is also a little blurbs dotted here and there, such as detailing how best to carve a roast chicken, and a method to cook duck breasts. I for one didn't know that you should start them off skin side down in a cold pan.

I decided to try out the Chicken Kiev, especially as it's billed as 'the perfect recipe'. My picture is decidedly more... rustic than that of the photo in the book, but it was pretty damn good. Garlicky, lemon-scented butter burst forth from the crisply coated chicken supreme, lubricating the mash that accompanied it. I made a right mess of the kitchen what with the double egg and flour dipping but it made sure that the pocket of buttery goodness was well encased, something that us cooks mortally fear will go wrong and end up as a big puddle in the baking tray. The chicken, having been fried and finished off in the oven, was perfectly cooked and moist throughout.

I've already bookmarked several recipes to try, such as game terrine, devilled chicken livers and pigeon and bacon with sweetcorn fritters. There's also a list of game dealers which is where I'll be going to pick up some grouse, a bird I've heard talked much about and haven't yet had the opportunity to try. This book is perfect for anyone like me, who wants to try cooking new birds.

There is, however, one recipe which I definitely won't be trying - 'spaghetti with curried chicken balls'. It sounds like every kind of wrong... so maybe I should give it a go.

Released 4th September, priced £20

11 comments:

Wine Splodge said...

This does sound rather reminissent of those 1970s cookery books still occasionally found in second hand shops: 'Winning Quiche Recipes" and "1000 Ways With Mince".
I have a copy of John Torode's "Relax, it's Only Food"-nicely illustrated but the title's misleading- many of the recipes are very involved and some just didn't work (his method for confit for one). I've always found cooking from it anything but relaxing. Though there were some very tasty dishes.

colehillkitchen said...

oohh yum!! love John Torode's style so I'll have to get my hands on this book!! :-)

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I think you mean, 'THIS BOOK COULD CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!' ? ;-)

eatmynels said...

There is also a recipe for a chicken sandwich...


i felt mortally insulted upon turning to this page...


I shall probably never buy a book by the Toad.....I do love a Kiev though.

Helen said...

mmmm...buttery juices

Food Urchin said...

I was recently recommended to buy "Beef" and now Torode has brought "Chicken" out. Hmm I think I'll have to have a peruse in the bookshop before buying. The kiev sounds and looks good though.

But do you really need this book Lizzie? You do live near Chicken Cottage after all.

Jenny said...

I saw this in the bookshop the other day, will have to go back and look a bit more closely! I've been jointing my own chickens for a while now, once you get the hang of it it's pretty simple and quick.

pigpigscorner said...

I cook a lot of chicken actually, it's relatively cheaper than other meats, and maybe healthier...

Lizzie said...

Wine Splodge - I think I prefer cookbooks more devoted to one type of cuisine, or animal; much easier to find a recipe to inspire than one of the TV chefs books where you have all sorts of cuisines and a jumble of recipes.

Colehill - I recommend it.

A forkful - "It doesn't get tougher THAN THIS". Though the book was quite easy to cook from.

Eatmynels - I know what you mean. Nice picture though eh?

Helen - Mmmm butter.

FU - Sometimes a girl just wants some duck you see...

Jenny - In that case I'll be sure to give it a go.

Pigpigscorner - Torode also encourages you to buy free range chicken, which I have been doing for a while now. Comparatively I don't think it is any cheaper.

mathildescuisine said...

When I was a kid, my mom used to cook us roasted chicken with mash potatoes for Saturday lunch, after school. It still remains my best comfort food. Long vie au poulet !

Remedial Gash said...

Clearly chicken is only the second dullest meat, the top place reserved only for turkey.

I couldn't live without pork - fattiest cuts please... doubtless I shall expire of a porcine induced heart attack, but at least I'll have a smile on my face, a fag in my hand, and a bottle of something on the go.

Gash
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