Casseroling And Pot-Roasting

 

These are long, slow-cooking methods that give depth of flavour and unrivalled tenderness to any type of poultry or game, both whole birds and pieces on the bone. Cooking can be on top of the stove or in the oven.

MARINATING AND CASSEROLING IN WINE

Poultry pieces are tenderized by being steeped and slowly simmered in a concentrated cooked red wine marinade. This is the technique behind the classic French coq an vin. For a fuller flavour, let the casserole go cold, preferably overnight. Reheat well before serving.

1. Cook the vegetables for the marinade in wine so that they will soften and impart flavour.

2. Let the marinade cool before adding the chicken or the chicken will begin to cook before marinating.

3. Sprinkle oil over the surface of the marinade to help contain strong odours during marinating.

4. Make sure the chicken pieces are thoroughly dry before adding them to the hot oil otherwise they will not brown evenly.

5. Add the strained marinade to the casserole after it has been boiled and skimmed; this will have eliminated any coagulated blood.

6. When the chicken is done, the sauce will be thick and rich and the chicken will feel tender when pierced with a skewer. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving, to allow the flavours to mellow and the fibres in the meat to settle.

POT-ROASTING TOUGH GAME BIRDS

Small game birds, such as quail and grouse, can be dry and tough, so they are suited to slow, moist methods of cooking. Wrapping the birds in bacon adds flavour and protects the flesh; tying helps to keep the birds in a neat shape. Marinating before cooking will help moisten, flavour and tenderize the flesh.

1. Tuck the neck skin and wings underneath the birds and tie the legs together with string. Season the birds, then wrap streaky bacon rashers around them and tie it in place with kitchen string.

2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large flameproof casserole. Brown the birds, turning them occasionally by hooking a two­-pronged fork under the trussing string.

3. Add carrots and onions to the pan, with salt and pepper to taste. Sweat the vegetables for 5 minutes over a gentle heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to incorporate any sediment from the bottom of the pan.

4. Pour enough red wine to half cover the birds. Cover and simmer very gently until the birds are tender and the sauce reduced, about 30 minutes on the stovetop, or 1 hour in a 180°C oven. Check seasoning and serve.

MARINADES FOR TOUGH BIRDS

Marinades add flavour to meat, and help to tenderize it. This is because most marinades contain an acid such as wine or fruit juice which helps break down tough fibres. Fresh pineapple juice is most effective as it contains a special enzyme that breaks down proteins and tenderizes meat.

• Fresh pineapple juice mixed with grated lemon zest.

• Lemon juice, crushed garlic and dried red pepper flakes.

• Red wine, cranberry juice and juniper berries.

• Orange juice, lime juice, cracked peppercorns, coriander seeds and chopped fresh chilli.

• White wine, cider vinegar, cumin seeds, allspice berries and cinnamon stick.

• Red wine, cinnamon stick and cracked cloves.

• Sherry vinegar, oil, thyme, sage and bay leaf.

• Red wine, rosemary and marjoram.