This isnt really a recipe, more a guide. It’s too easy to be a proper recipe.
There are really only four requirements:
- A bird. It can be chicken, guinea fowl, partridge, or pheasant, and in fact it’s excellent for older game because it keeps it moist. It’s going to be guinea fowl tonight because I love it, and because it fits beautifully into requirement two:
- A brick. These clay pots were all the rage in the 60s, when Terence Conran’s Habitat introduced a glum Britain to design. They are still easily picked up, and they are wonderful.
- Requirement three is veg, and it pretty much doesn’t matter which ones. Tonight will be 2 sweet potatoes, 3 courgettes and 2 red onions because it is what I have, with about 4 garlic cloves because there is very little in this world that is not improved by garlic.
- Requirement four is time – this cannot be done quickly, but it is one of the easiest meals in the world, and it is so good it will even get me through the last days of February.
In addition to bird and veg you will need water, salt and pepper, and I’ve got some thyme kicking around so that’s going in too.
To serve, I like green salad, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but perhaps that’s just me.
- Soak the brick, with its lid, in cold water.
- Peel any vegetables that you feel strongly should be peeled. I’ll wash the sweet potatoes only, take the really papery outer skin off the onion and garlic clives, and that will be that.
- Chop up the vegetables into large pieces – say 2 inch cubes.
- Put the bird in the brick – untrussed
- Season really well with salt and pepper
- Put the vegetable pieces, garlic cloves and thyme (if using) around the bird. If you have a very big bird, or a very small brick, you may only fit some of the veggies in, in which case just tip the rest into a small baking dish with a little water or stock, cover with foil, and put in the oven alongside the brick, to cook for the same length of time.
- Add tap cold water, so that it comes about a ¼ to a 1/3 of the way up the bird, depending on how roomy your brick is (roomier = ¼, less roomy = 1/3).
- Put in a cold oven, and turn the oven on, set to medium (about 180 degrees centigrade or equivalent). The oven must be cold or the brick will crack. I guess this recipe just can’t be done in an Aga.
- Leave for about one and a half hours – remember for some of this time it will all be just coming up to temperature.
- Take the lid of the brick, and put it to the side, and put the brick and contents back in the oven for another 30 – 40 minutes to finish cooking and to brown.
- At the end of this time the bird and vegetables should be cooked, but it is obviously essential to check if using chicken or guinea fowl – the leg should pull away with no pink juices flowing, only clear.
- Hoik out the bird, and carve (hack, tear whatever works).
I like it with salad leaves, with pieces of the meat, the veg and the cooking liquid poured over, with a drizzle of olive oil (for game birds where the liquor won’t be oily already), a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.