Danielle Alvarez’s Always Add Lemon

In her first cookbook, Always Add Lemon, chef Danielle Alvarez of Sydney Institution Fred’s delivers inspired recipes for cooks who use food to discover the new, celebrate the old, and believe in the power of food and the joy it can bring…

Fig and Goat’s Curd Salad with Smoky Paprika Vinaigrette

INGREDIENTS | Serves 4

8 ripe figs
12 large rocket (arugula) leaves
150 g fresh goat’s curd
70 g toasted almonds

Vinaigrette
20 ml sherry vinegar
20 ml agrodolce-style white-wine vinegar
½ garlic clove
1 ½ teaspoons pimentón de La Vera dulce
100 ml extra-virgin olive oil

To make your dressing, combine the vinegars in a jar and grate in the garlic. Add a pinch of salt and the pimentón and shake to combine. Next, add the olive oil and shake again. This can be made ahead of time, but no more than a few hours as the raw garlic tends to change over time and becomes stronger and sweeter.

Tear open your figs at the centre and arrange them on a platter with the rocket and goat’s curd crumbled around. Shake your vinaigrette just before pouring it right over everything. Use only enough to drizzle; you don’t want to drown out the other ingredients. Finally, scatter your toasted almonds over the top and finish with a good sprinkle of salt. Serve immediately.

Buttermilk-Marinated Chicken with Roasted Grapes and Za’atar

INGREDIENTS | Serves 4

1.2 kg chicken, butterflied
600 ml buttermilk
1.5 litres full-cream (whole) milk extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1 tablespoon za’atar
150 g red wine grapes
50 ml verjus, or red or white wine
50 ml chicken stock (page 12 of the cookbook, or use store-bought)
25 g butter
1 teaspoon sherry or red-wine vinegar
5 brined grape leaves (optional)

If you don’t have access to wine grapes, use sweet red table grapes instead. Brining, or to be more technically correct, marinating in a mixture of milk and buttermilk, tenderises meat due to the interaction of the calcium and certain acids found in milk, but another happy coincidence is that the sugar in the milk, also known as lactose, helps produce a beautiful golden colour.

Ask your butcher to butterfly the chicken for you – it will make life easier.

Season your bird with salt and refrigerate for 30 minutes, then place your chicken in a bowl that will hold it snugly. If the bowl is too large, the liquid won’t cover the chicken. Alternatively, you can use a sealable plastic bag. Pour the buttermilk and milk over the bird and leave it to marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

The next day, remove the bird from the liquid and set it directly in a roasting tin, skin side up, and allow it to come to room temperature. Set a chargrill pan over a medium–high heat or get an outdoor grill quite hot. Drizzle the chicken skin with a little oil and place the whole flattened bird on the grill to get it nicely coloured. Sear for about 5–7 minutes. Once you have good grill marks, flip the bird over and place it directly on a roasting rack, skin side up. Roast the chicken in the oven for 20–30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 70°C on a cooking thermometer. Approximately 10 minutes before your chicken is finished, drizzle it with some extra olive oil and sprinkle the za’atar over the top. When the bird is cooked, remove it from the oven and set it on a chopping board to rest for 20 minutes.

Next, check the roasting tray. If the fat and dripping look quite burned, rinse it off before adding your grapes to the tin, but if the dripping is just deeply caramelised, place your grapes on top of that spot on the tray. Pour the verjus onto the grapes and sprinkle them with salt and olive oil. Return the tray to the oven and roast at 220°C for 10–15 minutes, or until the grapes swell and look like they will burst. Remove from the oven and set the grapes aside. To make a little sauce, place the roasting tin over a medium–low heat on the stove and add the chicken stock and any juices the chicken has released while resting. Add the butter and let it simmer, reduce and thicken. Add the vinegar to the sauce once reduced. It may need a bit more salt or butter depending on the sourness of the grapes, so have a taste. Set aside for pouring over the chicken.

I like to fry some brined grape leaves in olive oil until they are crispy, but this is not essential, just beautiful and tasty. Carve your chicken and serve with the roasted grapes and all the juice poured over it, and the grape leaves, if you’ve done them.

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