Wood Fired Clay Baked Chook.
This time last year, Brunyfire was about to participate in the 2013 Melbourne Food Festival whose whole theme revolved around the idea of ‘earth’ – eating stuff that grows in it, cooking with and in it.
One of the ‘earthy’ workshops held at the Ceres Environment Park was by Italian chef, Massimo Spigaroli whose presentation of wood fired Clay Baked Guinea Fowl is the inspiration for this story.
As we’ve been having such a glorious summer this year, we decided to make one of our rare trips away from the home comforts of the Boatshed and take in some of Bruny’s other spectacular offerings. Knowing of a small clay deposit at a local beach was just the right excuse to take a leisurely drive………..………..and even at its busiest, Bruny still provides idyllic places devoid of the madding crowds.
In this instance, it was the clay that was the lure, and even with the tide at its highest………..……….there was still more than enough to fill Brunyfire’s sack. The clay was collected and taken back to the shack for preparation. Clumps where broken down into smaller chunks and slaked with enough water to cover them overnight. The following morning, the clay was soft enough to turn out onto a concrete slab and additional sand was wedged in. Bit like making bread, only in this instance, trying to remove any air bubbles.The clay is naturally very plastic, and despite not bothering to sieve it before hand (a procedure that would normally occur in making a useable clay for making pots with) to remove the resident particles, it still required some additional ‘tooth’ which the sand provided.
Prior to preparing the clay and the chook, the wood fire had been lit – this needs to be fired up at least a couple of hours before cooking.After a while, a good heat was achieved and the interior of the dome’s roof was cleared of carbon that indicated that the temperature was rising……………………..as indicated by the digital thermocouple (on loan from my Mount Nelson pottery studio) that showed 370 degrees!
The preparation of the chook went something like this:
Get a decent sized organic chicken, carefully separate the skin from the flesh and shove in some decent knobs of butter. Stuff the chicken cavity with the following stuffing mix. One Supreme Smallgoods (Ziggys) smoked venison salami – skin removed, one beaten egg, 1 cup breadcrumbs, 1 cup diced onions, couple cloves of chopped garlic, pinch of salt, teaspoon of ground pepper, some chopped fresh sage. Run all dry ingredients through a blender and then mix in the egg to bind it all together and stuff this into the cavity.
Lay a bunch of fresh herbs over the top………..………..wrap the whole thing in several slices of prosciutto and then in a pre-soaked, dried lotus leaf. Nb: this can be softened by pouring boiling water over it – this makes the brittle leaf soft and pliable for folding. Fold up the chook in the lotus leaf.
Roll out a slab of clay, wrap up the chook and a couple of spuds and seal the edges of the clay.Shove the coals to one side of the fire and place the clay packets inside – by this time, the oven temperature should have dropped to about 250 degrees.Let the parcels cook for a couple of hours until the clay has blackened.………before breaking them open.The results were succulent and tasty……..……….cut open the spuds, fill with cream and grated parmesan cheese, serve with some fresh kale.