My Alcoholic Kitchen: Gin and Tonic Chicken

So I was making roast chicken the other day and I was about to shove a sliced lemon up the chicken’s bum, when two thoughts occured to me. The first was “why am I always shoving things up chickens’ bums?” And the second was “I should save some of this lemon and make a G&T.”

You know how sometime, great ideas come from combining two things together? Well that’s what happened in my brain: two thoughts collided and a new idea was created: “I should shove a G&T up a chicken’s bum.”

Inception.

Regular reader may notice a developing theme of culinary chicken sodomy. Now, the lesson I learned from the Chickenosaurus Rex was that canning chicken isn’t really that effective. So I figured this time, instead of a can, I’d use a roasting bag. It essentially does the same thing: trap the liquid in with the meat.

Now if I wanted to do this legit, I’d get all the ingredients of gin: juniper, cinnamon, cucumber, cloves, citrus peel and whatever else, along with some quinine and whatever the hell else is in tonic and stuff the chicken with them. Or, I could just stuff the chicken with lemon, pour in enough gin to get a sailor tipsy, and seal it off. So that’s what I did.

Take this lot.

Take this lot.

Season your chicken with oil, salt and pepper. Stuff some lemon in.

Stuff it in your chicken chicken, seasoned with oil, salt and pepper.

IMG_20131110_164841

Pour in your gin!

And a little more of each in the bag. That beastie is ready to roast!

And a little more of each in the bag. That beastie is ready to roast!

As you can see, I used Lighthouse gin. Partly because I like to cook with really good ingredients, but also because that’s what I had on hand. I could have gone a got a bottle of cheap stuff, but then I’d have been stuck with a lot of gin I wasn’t too keen on drinking anyway. You may also notice that I didn’t bother with tonic. I didn’t really think that was going to add anything to the dish, and I’d rather drink it with ice, lemon and gin anyway.

Finished product:

Food photography isn't really my thing.

Food photography isn’t really my thing.

So how’d it turn out? The chicken was falling-apart-tender and super zesty. I didn’t really get much gin flavour from it, but it was very nice none the less. I suspect I’d have needed to drown the bird in a sea of gin to get a proper result.1 I also made gravy with the juice from inside the bag and a little more gin. It came out super light, and needed a fair amount of soy to give it richness. It was however, very pleasantly zesty and did have a little gin flavour to it.

Post-mortem: a moderate success. Roasting bags are good if you want to make a very succulent roast, but I think I prefer open roasting in general. You get more caramelisation on the outside of the meat and in the bottom of the pan. This makes better gravy and you can also roast the veggies in the meat juices. I would probably consider using a bag if I was going to roast a turkey, which can be quite dry.

Still, a worthy experiment.


1. Just like your mum on Friday night.

My Alcoholic Kitchen: Chickenosaurus Rex

So the other day I had beer-can-chicken for the first time.  And it was pretty good, but I’m not sure the beer did anything to the chicken.  Certainly I couldn’t really taste it.  Now I was in the company of beer geeks at the time (aren’t I always?) and we got talking about how to make the chicken taste more like the beer.

P1020651

Godspeed, you mad bastard.

We generally agreed that a good strong-flavoured beer would be best option, but what to use?  I wasn’t going to waste a good Imperial Stout or Barleywine on cooking.  I toyed with the idea of using more La Trappe but then someone suggested the obvious: Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude.  But of course!  So simple but so genius!

Now I have an interesting relationship with Rex.  I both love and hate it, sometimes within the space of the same glass and sometimes simultaneously.  Overall though, I’m fond of Rex.  Not because I like drinking it, but because it’s utterly-nutterly-butterly bonkers.  It’s unique and it’s insane and for that I’m glad it exists.1

So I resolved to making rex-beer-can-chicken.  Now there’s an obvious problem with this plan, which is that Rex doesn’t come in cans.  I got around this simply by purchasing another canned drink, emptying it and filling it with Rex.  For aesthetic reasons, I wanted to use a can of something really shitty, like Lion Red, but I was at the supermarket, and I could only really get cans of fizzies, so I went with lemonade.

P1020648

There’s no way this can go wrong.

Methodology:

  • Drain the can of lemonade/other beer/whatever.  Drink this with ice, Gin and a squeeze of lemon (optional).  
  • Season your chicken with a little oil, salt and fresh-ground pepper.
  • Fill the empty can halfway with Rex Attitude.
  • And er, well…  Shove it up the chicken’s bum.  Yup.
  • Stand the chicken on the end of the can.  Now I had trouble keeping the chicken upright, so I used a couple of bamboo skewers to keep it standing:
I'm probably not.

Do you ever find yourself wondering if you’re completely ‘normal’?

  • Now roast it in the oven/bbq for however long (according to weight) at whatever temperature (according to oven/bbq or whatever).  

I was going to drink the rest of the Rex, only needing half the bottle to fill the can.  But then a thought occurred to me: gravy.  I got busy preparing some spuds.  Very quickly, I knew something was different from a normal roast chicken.  A smoky, slightly burning smell started permeating the kitchen.  I think it was just some spilled Rex on the roasting pan boiling away, because it disappeared fairly quickly (or I got used to it). It was sort of pleasant, but also vaguely reminded me of stale second-hand smoke.

Anywho, an hour and a bit later and after putting on the vegetables, the chicken was ready.  I pulled it out and set it aside to rest.  Frankly, it looked a little scary.

RAWR!

I dub thee “Chickenosaurus Rex”!

I then got busy with the gravy.  Now I’ve heard it said by Christians that if God gives you a gift, it’s your duty to use it in the service of the Lord.  If this is true, I should probably give up beer-tending and become an Evangelical Gravy-Preacher, because my gravy is god-damn magical.  I’m known amongst my friends as the Gravy Wizard and I’m frequently contracted to make gravy at parties.

Now lets get one thing straight.  Repeat after me: “Gravy does NOT come from a packet”.  Got that?  Cool.  Here’s how I made gravy:

  • Take your pan with all the lovely drippings from the roast.  Pour them off if there’s a lot sloshing around in the pan.  Otherwise, put it on the stove top and turn it to low.  
  • Sprinkle flour into the pan a little at a time and whisk it about until you’ve soaked up all the liquid.  It should make a thick paste when all the oil has been soaked up.
  • Once the flower is looking all nice and browned, add more liquid a little at a time, while whisking to thin it out.  I used Rex.  It turned out I didn’t need to save the rest of the bottle because there was still some left in the bottom of the can from the chicken’s bum.
  • After a lot of whisking, the gravy should look nice and glossy.  If you’ve whisked it enough, there shouldn’t be any lumps.  I seasoned it with a little soy sauce, lemon juice and fresh-ground pepper.

So how did the Chickenosaurus taste?  Well, only the meat nearest the can had picked up the Rex flavour.  That was probably a good thing though, because it wasn’t particularly a good combination.  It wasn’t bad per-se, but it did kind of taste a little like I’d used cigarette ash as a spice rub.  Oh well.  It was a neat experiment and we lives and learns, doesn’t we?  On the other hand…

The Rex gravy was delicious: rich, subtly peaty and a little tart from the lemon juice.  It was great on the chicken but I suspect it would be even better on beef.  So the experiment was worth it in the end.  Rex gravy: I’m going to remember that one!

I’m not entirely sold on the whole beer-can-chicken idea.  The meat was very moist, but I suspect a broth or even a brine would work just as well.  Next time I might just baste the chicken frequently in beer.  Maybe a Rauchbier like Smok’in Bish or Smoko.  Then again, they do have guinea fowl at More Wilson’s.  And quails.  And I was looking at those extra small energy-drink cans at the supermarket…


  1. I’m also very fond of Rex Attitude for another reason.  If you give it to someone who’s never had it before, they’ll pull a funny face.  But also, be they beer geek or complete novice, there’s roughly a 50-50 chance they’ll love it/hate it, which is pretty remarkable.  Although I have seen more than one beer geek type pretend to love it so as not to lose face in geek circles, then abandon or dump it when no one is looking…

My Alcoholic Kitchen: Beer Bunny

I’m no chef, but if there’s one thing I love to do it’s drink cook.  Were I ever to found a culinary school, it would have a unique philosophy: needs more booze!  Past alcoholic  experiments include: pork and cider-gravy, stout-stroganoff, Laphroaig Bolognese, rum-glazed drunken devils-on-horseback, and whiskey jam.  In French cuisine there are the five mother sauces.  In my cuisine there are the five mother boozes: beer, cider, wine, dark spirits and light spirits.

Some weeks back I was trawling the wild game section of Moore Wilson’s, when I noticed they had whole rabbits.  I love rabbit.  I first tried it in Switzerland when I was eight, but you almost never see it here.

A tableau.

The first rabbit I cooked I shared with Dave from Hashigo.  We named it Sir Charles Johnson and slow-cooked it in home made cider.   It was pretty good, but I felt a more solid booze-base would be even better.  So when another friend of mine, Hannah, heard about and demanded her own rabbit-feast, I decided that this time around it was ‘go big or go home!’  And big I went, with La Trappe Dubbel.1

I chose this strong Belgian dark ale (7%) because I felt the robust banana, spice and caramel flavours (with a hint of chocolate) would stand up well to a three-hour braising.  Also because it was cheap.  Seriously cheap.  Like $7 from chaffer’s New World.  What a  steal!

This rabbit we dubbed Edwin Pemberton (The First) and because Edwin was rather small in life, I also picked up a leg of wild hare from Moore Wilson’s (also because I’ve never eaten hare before).

The Dish

Down to business then.  This is what I used:

Hare is apparently a red meat.

Hare is apparently a red meat.

  • 1 whole rabbit
  • 1 leg of hare
  • 250g bacon pieces
  • 1 bulb of garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • a handful of green beans, chopped
  • a few mushrooms, sliced
  • a large sprig of thyme
  • 50g butter
  • 750 ml bottle of La Trappe Dubble

To start I crisped the bacon in a pan.  Then I seasoned the leporidae with salt and pepper, and seared them in the bacon fat.  “Seared in bacon fat.”  Now those are some beautiful words right there.  Food poetry!  

This is art.

This is art.

Next, I took all the ingredients  threw them in the slow cooker, poured over the Dubble, turned it to high and left it.  No need to make things complicated after all.  After it reached a simmer, I took the lid off and stuck my nose in.  I was damn nearly decked by  the cloud of booze vapour that erupted out of the pot!  Pemberton was getting tender.

I pulled him out after about three hours.  In pieces, because he was so tender he was falling apart.  I shredded the flesh and pulled out all the bones, or at least as many as I could find.  Rabbits are full of sharp little ribs and vertebrae which are not pleasant to chew on.  The rabbit meat I put back in to the pot.  Interestingly the leg of hare didn’t fall apart.  If anything, it was a little tougher than when I started.

Everything in the slow cooker.

Everything in the slow cooker.

I served the unthickened soup-like broth in bowls over pasta (except for the hare, which we elected to eat neolithic style, with hands and teeth).  The broth was very rich, with the dominant flavours being beer and bacon.  The sweet caramel and booze of the dubbel especially came through.  The rabbit still managed to be slightly dry but had a lovely flavour, like rather ferric turkey.2  The hare was tough, but tasted good: like a subtle farmed venison.

So overall, rabbit was definitely a success.  Now that I’ve slow cooked a couple, I’d be keen to try a few different preparation methods.  And I’ve also got to plan my next food adventure.  I did spot some Guinea Fowl in the fridge at Moore Wilson’s the other day…

Hannah, demonstrating correct the neolithic technique.

Hannah, demonstrating the correct neolithic eating technique.


  1. I have a fondness for La Trappe, ever since Steve from Hashigo and I had a ‘Trappist Lunch’, where we toured all the La Trappe beers we could get hold of.  We started mid-afternoon and finished around 2 am.  I can report: the beers were good and we were drunk.
  2. Although the left-overs, devoured the next day, were much less dry.  An overnight soaking in the broth seemed to do the trick.