New Year’s Eve Dinner – spatchcock marinated in pomegranate syrup stuffed with lemon and thyme with poached baby pears, fig, and rosti.

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I’m backtracking here [cue waviness] but I should keep the recipe count up a bit and, as I didn’t get much of a chance after the New Years Eve dinner, I thought it’d be worthwhile going over the dinner in a bit more detail.

Chook and Sue and us decided two weeks before to have a proper dinner party for New Year at their place and the numbers were going to be from four to sixteen. They ended up being 11. The main concern was to allow the dinner to stretch through the evening so midnight would be part of it. This would be achieved by increasing the number of courses and this isn’t necessarily a hard thing to do. A cold soup can be made in advance. Seafood entrees are best left simple. Vegetables can be their own course. A sorbet isn’t too hard. A cheeseboard is just shopping and arranging, leaving only dessert and mains as the main concern. So seven courses isn’t much more of a stretch. They were:

Vichyssoise with a crayfish bisque base
Oysters with crème fraîche and salmon roe, ponzu sorbet, and champagne and chives sorbet
Sue’s Vegetable Terrine
Pear and limoncello sorbet
Spatchcock marinated in pomegranate syrup stuffed with lemon and thyme with poached baby pears, fig, and rosti
Cheeses
Gummo Trotskies – champagne zabaglione on pannetone with persian fairy floss and berry coulis


Chicken too dull, quail too small, pork too feasty, lamb too sunday, seafood too entree, venison to medieval, rabbit too pricey, pigeons too feral, steak too pubby, so this kind of left spatchcock. Spatchcock, poussin, is really just a young chicken and is a perfect size for mains with a surprising amount of meat. They’re also very reasonably priced at around $7 each. I thought I’d approach their cooking from a quail perspective and drew from a couple of recipes. I also decided to debone them, which was a considerable amount messy work, but good practice and it saves the guests from the pile of bones that shouts they’ve eaten a whole animal. And I then stitch them up again as if nothing had happened. The bones, handily become part of the stock. To compensate for the moisture giving properties of the bones, I bought some backfat and stuffed each one with half a lemon – and basted well. The only hiccup was the impossible task of finding kitchen string on NYE, which we ended up finding in a hardware store.

Spatchcock
Debone. This involves slicing down the backbone, working around the rib cage and dislocating each joint so there’s only one bone in each limb. If you come over to my place I can show you. The marinade is from a Moroccan recipe in the Delicious-let’s entertain (or just drink enough to give a semblance of) book that called for rose jam and since I couldn’t find any or had the disposition to make any, I used pomegranate molasses instead (sadly it was a month or so before pomegranates are in season). The amounts are for 11 spatchcocks: 6 crushed garlic cloves; 1tbs ground cumin, 1 tbs ground cumin; 3tbs pomegranate molasses; 1/3 cup of lemon juice and 1/3 cup of olive oil.

Once they’ve marinated for a few hours, stitch them up and truss them. You need half a lemon, a twig of thyme and a piece of backfat inside, and a piece of backfat over the breast.

Place them in the oven at 220 for 10 minutes and then lower it to 180 until cooked. I can’t recall how long exactly they took but I’d be surprised if it was as much as 30 minutes. Keep a sharp eye on them and give them a baste. They were done before the skin could brown which was a shame. In hindsight I could have browned them in a pan or given them a blast with the kitchen blowtorch.

Cherry Sauce
A Keith Floyd sauce and apparently good for all non-piscean white meat.
The chicken stock was already made so to complete the sauce: 250gm of pitted cherries, 3tbs chopped parsley, 1 tbs chopped dill, one glass of white wine and enough chicken stock to cover. Simmer gently for 15 minutes. Thicken with mashed together 25gm of flour and 25gm of butter. Add bits of it gradually, stirring constantly. Boil rapidly for two minutes and then puree.

Poached Baby Pears
These were a great last minute find at the Innaloo fruit and veg shop. Peel the pears, slicing the end off to allow it to stand, and rub with lemon juice to prevent discolouration. Poach a saucepan in white wine and chicken stock covered with a sheet greaseproof until they’re tender without being mushy.

Figs
Slice vertically, just there for looks and vitamins.

Rosti
aka Potato Cakes. I saved myself a lot of bother by finding a kind of blini pan – looked like a very shallow muffin tray. I could then cook them all at the same time rather than cook each one in a frypan.

Grate the potato into fine strips. You’ll have to use the mandolin for this job so mind your fingers – losing half a spud is better than several stitches. Once grated you need to get rid of the excess water and this can be done my sandwiching it between two boards with something heavy on it, harmless depleted uranium shells for example.

Shape them it to the pan (must get very small frypan too) and roast in the oven with a generous dollop of goose fat on each one. You can heat the fat beforehand to give it a bit of a head start.

spatchcock marinated in pomegranite syrup stuffe with lemon and thyme with poached baby pears, fig, and rosti.

Arrange nicely on a plate, spatchcock on the rosti, a tasteful drizzle of cherry sauce, pears in three, and a slice of fig. Tasty. Very easy to prepare during the meal as it’s just stuff in and out of the oven and would make for a very neat small dinner party.

Oh and you may have noticed the green ingredients. I found a cookbook with someone else who just puts the ingredients in mid-dialogue but distinguishes them by doing them a different colour. He’s this mad wild haired speccy English guy who lives on a farm and goes on about back to basics produce. He’s got this fantastic big book out but I can’t remember his name. Anybody know?

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19 comments

  1. Sue’s avatar

    To truss something is quite sexy sounding. I think I know the chef you mean, does he wear glasses? He lives on a farm and barters food for stuff in the village…

  2. Reid’s avatar

    Hi Anthony,

    Gosh, it’s almost 1 am here and I’m getting hungry. The dishes sound enticing, and to tell you the truth, I’ve never had poussin. Sounds like I might just give it a try though.

    BTW…I just received the magazine in the mail yesterday and it’s an interesting read. Any word on international subscription rates?

    Thanks for sending it on over, I really enjoyed the piece you wrote.

  3. Anthony’s avatar

    Sue
    It is indeed and had there not been 10 dinner guests around, who knows what could have happened.

    That sounds like our man, he had a book in Kinokunya and it was pretty flash. I mean I kind of expected it to be on vellum and written in squid ink.

    Reid
    1am on a school night? Tsk.

    They’d make a perfect roast chicken for the single living dude. Forget the niceties, chop it down the backbone with some kitchen scissors and grill away.

    That’s great news about the mag, I was starting to lose (more) faith in your postal system. I’ll ask how things are going for internation subs at the meeting this weekend.

  4. bea at  La Tartine Gourmande’s avatar

    Wow, what a feast! Looking great and some piece of work!
    My first time visiting your blog. I like it! I will surely return!

  5. Anthony’s avatar

    Bea
    3 weeks and I’m still smug about this one. I’m glad you could find me, I’ve been hiding out of late and I look forward to your return

  6. bea at La Tartine Gourmande’s avatar

    Yes I bet!… btw, creme fraiche is spelled like this “crème fraîche” ahahah, sorry it is the former French teacher in me, cannot help it! ;-)

    Bea

  7. Anthony’s avatar

    No that’s cool, thanks I shouldn’t have passed on the opportunity to use the hat thingy over the i. What does it do by the way?

    Actually I’ve just gone and done a proof read, apologies previous readers.

  8. Godknows’s avatar

    enjoyed your blog.

  9. bramble’s avatar

    Hugh My-Name-Is-So-Damned-Posh-Fernley-Whittingstall? Of River Cottage fame, probably.

  10. Sue’s avatar

    That’s it Bramble! I kept thinking River Cafe and getting lost.

  11. Anthony’s avatar

    Thanks God!

    Bramble
    Yes that’s the blighter, damnably posh name wot? Despite appearing like his mum arrives in a 1987 Silver Shadow to show concern and ask him if he hasn’t reconsidered about the job at Lloyds, he’s got it all completely sorted. Like this onmeat. Beautiful stuff.

    Sue
    That’s OK I was thinknig of River Phoenix

  12. Gracianne’s avatar

    Hi Anthony,
    You make it sound so easy, of course when you know how to prepare a party for 60, 11 guest is a simple affair.
    I really like spatchcocks, we call them “coquelets” I think, “poussin” in french is the small yellow chick – you wouldn’t eat them, would you?
    The sorbets sound very interesting too, I can’t wait for summer.

  13. Anthony’s avatar

    Hello Gracianne
    On the night it was actually pretty easy. I think I had to pretend to chop something up to give the impression of being busy when the guests arrived.

    You mean cute little yellow things like Pepe’s Petite Poussins. I am a monster.

    I love sorbets now, So happy I bought my ice-cream maker.

  14. J’s avatar

    hi anthony, as always, you make de-boning (and with as fiddly and little a bird as a poussin) sound like such a breeze – nonetheless, i’ll take you up on that deboning 101 ;)

  15. Anthony’s avatar

    Hi J

    I’d hate for anybody to be under the illusion of it being anything other than a messy bastard of a job. Personally, I wish you could just squeeze them hard and the bones pop out.

    Always welcome. Bring a small sharp knife, you know how possessive we get about these things.

  16. Lex Culinaria’s avatar

    mate. I am tired just reading your post. I need to lie down.

  17. Anthony’s avatar

    I haven’t done many spatchcock since.

  18. neil’s avatar

    You and I must be the only people who use raw potatoes to make rosti. Personaly I’m not Swiss enough to think ahead and preboil the spuds, when I want rosti, I want it now. We use a regular box grater, so all my fingers are still here. We put the grated potato into a clean tea towel and wring it out. I reckon using depleted uranium could have a nasty side effect.

  19. Anthony’s avatar

    A soul mate! I kinda guess if you boil them then it’s a hash brown and for yeah a quick after pub snack it would be the business. But yeah I’ve got to get a decent holder thing for my mandoline, very nasty if things go wrong. Good stuff with the tea towel and as long as you’re not firing it into tanks in populated areas, then the DU should be OK.

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