Only the French could make something as pedestrian as chicken decadently delicious.
Confit is a traditional way of preserving meats, primarily, by slow cooking in fat, then packing cooked meats and fat in a sealed container to the meats keeps for months instead of days.
So far, so pragmatic.
The thing is, they don’t just use any old fat. They use duck fat. And holy hell is it delicious! The flavour of the duck goes deep into the chicken, making it a country mile from your common or garden slow cooked chook.
My lovely friends at L’Authentique have developed their own confit range, which includes a truly delectable chicken. I’ve given you two ways to use the confit below: the first, a traditional confit leg with duck fat roast potatoes; the second, a confit risotto.
CONFIT CHICKEN WITH DUCK FAT ROAST POTATOES
4 confit chicken legs
4 large agria potatoes
Green salad to serve
Remove chicken from the packet, keeping aside duck fat and chicken stock
Heat the oven to 210°C
Peel potatoes and chop into either chips or 4cm chunks, whichever you prefer
Place potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water and salt liberally. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and allow to dry slightly.
Take 4 tablespoons of duck fat and heat in a roasting dish. When the fat is melted and hot, toss the partially cooked potatoes in the fat and then put into the oven for 30 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and crisp, turning occasionally during cooking.
Heat another tablespoon of duck fat in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the chicken legs and cook until skin is browned and crisp (about 10 minutes). Turn over and repeat on the other side.
Serve one chicken leg per person with roast potatoes and salad on the side.
CONFIT CHICKEN AND MUSHROOM RISOTTO Serves 4
2 tablespoons oil or duck fat
4 rashers bacon
1 onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
350g abrorio rice
¼ cup white wine
1.5 litre chicken stock
200g mushrooms, sliced
2 confit chicken legs, bones removed and meat shredded
A knob of butter
Salt/pepper to taste
1 cup grated parmesan
Bunch parsley, leaves chopped
Bring stock to a simmer in a large pan over a medium heat
Meanwhile, heat oil or fat in another large heavy based casserole dish
Add bacon and cook until crisp and well browned
Add onion, celery, garlic and thyme and cook until onion is soft and translucent
Sprinkle over rice and stir to combine, until rice grains are coated in oil and glistening.
Pour over wine and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
When wine is almost absorbed, begin adding stock, one ladle at a time until rice is creamy and al dente (the final risotto should be fairly liquid). Stir throughout the process.
Halfway through cooking the risotto, add the mushrooms and stir to combine.
Once the rice is cooked to your liking, turn off the heat, add the chicken and butter and stir.
Season to taste, and stir through parsley just prior to serving.
I have to fess up here: the highly talented Bunny Eats Design was the inspiration for this recipe and deserves credit.
This is a great recipe that Genie has developed, and I have messed with, as I do. It features L’Authentique Chorizo sausage, but if they don’t sell these where you live, any other good quality fresh chorizo would work equally well.
This is a super simple dinner to pull together, perfect for a week night family meal.
L’AUTHENTIQUE CHORIZO AND PRAWNS WITH SPICY TOMATO SAUCE
4 x L’Authentique Chorizo Sausages or 1 pack of French Grind, formed into approx. 25 small meatballs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 red capsicum, deseeded, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
2 Teaspoons hot smoked paprika
440g can crushed tomatoes
20 cooked and peeled prawns
Bunch coriander or parsley, chopped
Salt/pepper to taste
Heat oil in a frying pan. Cook sausages or meatballs until just cooked. Remove from pan and set aside. Slice sausages into 1cm pieces if using.
Reheat pan over medium heat. Add onions and capsicum and cook for approximately 10 minutes or until onions are soft.
Add garlic and paprika and cook for another minute.
Pour over tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened slightly.
Return sausages to the pan with prawns, and cook until heated through.
Stir through coriander or parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with rice or warmed crusty bread.
Pizza is one of those fantastic meals that everyone likes, and let’s be honest, when you’ve got kids, that can be a rare occasion. It’s a great way of using up any leftovers you have in the fridge – scraps of ham, salami or bacon, fridge dried mushrooms, those few sprigs of thyme. Even pizza bases are relatively simple to make. Some flour, water and yeast does an amazing job of turning out enviable bases.
I also make my own pizza sauce. In summer, I’d be a puritan and use fresh tomatoes, but at this time of the year canned works well. There’s also the added benefits of the skins already removed, so a little less fiddly.
The toppings are really up to you. I try to avoid any 80’s style “gourmet” concoctions. I avidly reject a chicken, cranberry and brie (WTF??) or any others of that ilk. I prefer to go for fairly simple. The most outrageous pizza topping in my house is the prawn and lemon below.
Give yourself some time to make the sauce and bases. The sauce needs time to cook down (you could double the recipe and freeze some for later), and the base dough needs time to prove, so realistically this recipe is better suited to weekend production. Alternatively, if you want something faster, make your own sauce (it’s worth it) and buy preservative free pre-made bases, like these ones from Turkish Bread.
Anyway, onto the recipe.
This recipe is from Al Brown’s fabulous book Stoked. It’s quite a wet dough, but I’ve found that if you use strong (high-grade) flour and give it time to develop, you can handle it without too much trouble. This makes a thick crust pizza base.
500ml warm water
2 tsp dried yeast
2 tsp sugar
4 1/2 cups strong (high grade) flour
2 tsp salt
Put the warm water in a bowl and add yeast and sugar. Stir then leave for 5 minutes or until the yeast begins to bubble
Using the dough hook attachment on a stand cake mixer, mix together the water/yeast mixture with the flour and salt on low speed for 8-10 minutes until smooth.
Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and sit in a warm place to prove. Knock back a couple of times with oiled hands
Break off pieces of dough to size required. Place on oiled tray and stretch until relatively thin (this takes a bit of effort)
This bit is mine…
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
2 x 400g tins crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Heat olive oil over a low heat. Add red onion, garlic, oregano and chilli flakes (if using) and cook until onion is soft.
Add tins of tomatoes, bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced and thick
Add red wine vinegar and cook until acidity has simmered off.
Season to taste.
Mushroom & Bacon
Mushrooms of your choice, sliced
Red onion, finely sliced
Bacon, roughly chopped (I used streaky bacon)
Small sprigs of thyme
Extra virgin olive oil
Pre-heat oven to 225ºC
Spread pizza sauce liberally over pizza base
Top with grated mozzarella, then sliced mushrooms, red onion, bacon, thyme.
Season and drizzle lightly with olive oil
Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until base is puffed and toppings golden
The food in Queenstown can be very, very good. It can also be very, very bad.
The last time we visited (in 2014), we made the mistake of not asking for some advice on the best places to eat. At this point I wasn’t doing the kind of pre-trip research I would do now, so we ate some pretty bad food at some places that looked like they’d be nice, but weren’t. Luckily, my brother in law lives just out of Arrowtown, so he came to the rescue with some outstanding dinner options.
I guess this is the challenge with any town in any country that has tourism as a primary source of income. I could say the same thing about Venice, Crete or Fiji. Rich and I have a theory that you should always eat one block from the best view. Thankfully, in Queenstown, this doesn’t have to be the case (although when your view is all encompassing mountain ranges, they’re pretty hard to avoid).
These are some of the places we ate at while we were there. Things change pretty quickly though, so I can’t guarantee there won’t be better newcomers in the next few months.
A notable omission on my part is Fergburger and their associated stores, Mrs Ferg and Fergbaker. Sadly the ever present queues outside Fergburger meant we were unable to eat here, but this is a Queenstown institution and really should not be missed. The word from insiders is that you’re best to place your order online beforehand to avoid what can be a sizable wait. We poked our heads into Fergbaker and Mrs Ferg (which sells house made gelato) and these are pretty impressive establishments. Everything was fresh and smelled amazing. Don’t make the same mistake I did, make the time to eat there at least once.
Madam Woo – Madam Woo is one of two local restaurants owned by celebrity chef Josh Emmett and restaurateur Fleur Caulton (the other is Rata – see below). This is their Malaysian Hawker food inspired offering, right in the middle of the Queenstown shopping area. They only take bookings for eight or more, so we made sure we arrived just after 6pm to get a table (they’re also open for lunch). The food is relaxed and designed to share, the room is energetic and brightly decorated. This time it was only me and the kids (Rich had gone back to work), so sadly we didn’t get to try as much of the menu as I would have liked. We had a mix of steamed dumplings and a hawker roll (pulled pork with herbs wrapped in roti) to start, then Char Sui BBQ pork spare ribs (to keep the 11 year old happy), honey and soy squid and Asian vegetables for a main. The desserts looked amazing, but sadly we were too full to try them. The kids loved it, and I noticed a number of other families in the room, so they welcome children.
Rata – This is Emmett and Caulton’s more grown up option. We had a fantastic dinner here, aided by the fact that my brother in law seemed to know everyone in the room, so we were spoiled rotten. Rata is a fine dining restaurant, focused on local produce. The menu is limited to four options for starters, five for main courses, but the options available are fantastic, so this really wasn’t a problem. The service is impeccable, the room beautiful, but I wouldn’t be bringing the kids here!
Bespoke – This cafe, situated just below the gondola, won New Zealand cafe of the year in 2015. The owners also own Vudu cafe on the Wakatipu lakefront, which has been excellent through the years. I was blown away by Bespoke. It was crazily busy, but we managed to find a perch by the window and had a delicious breakfast. Their menu appears to be very health focused on first look, but a closer look reveals the eggy, bacony, breakfast standards we all love. I had black rice baked with coconut milk and served with caramelised bananas, Amelia had a beautiful, flower bedecked chai pudding. The coffee was delicious, they do some lovely smoothies, and there is an awe inspiring range of cakes, sandwiches and other sweet but healthy treats adorning the counter and cabinet.
Taco Medic – This is the kind of little local find that I love. We we coming down from Coronet Peak and found Taco Medic’s food truck situated on the side of the road back to Queenstown. They’ve set up camp with a doughnut guy (which the kids had instead) and a guy selling beer. The tacos are fresh and delicious, with hand made corn tortillas. I had the pulled brisket, but there’s also pork, fish and a vegetarian taco. There’s even a breakfast taco, which I was told was amazing (maybe next time). This is really inexpensive, but delicious food. Perfect after a day’s skiing. They also have a location in central Queenstown.
Ivy & Lola’s– After being so rude about good food and views being mutually exclusive, I stumbled on Ivy & Lola’s whilst on a late afternoon hunt for mulled wine and hot chips. The brief was simple – I needed to be able see the water and the mountains while I drank my wine. This place ticked all the boxes. It’s tucked next to Mac’s Ale House on the lakefront, and to be honest it looks like the same establishment. The view of the mountains is sensational, the heaters were going and there were blankets for those of us placing scenery above warmth. Although I didn’t have dinner here, the menu was enticing, and if the wine and chips were anything to go by (I know, that’s a fragile premise to base a good review on!), the food is good. When we ventured inside to pay the bill, we found the dining room to be eclectic, with framed vintage cutlery, old radios and china teapots and cups adorning the walls. Really lovely.
The Cookie Bar – this part of my restaurant wrap up is for kids only. Cookie Time have opened a themed cookie bar, that serves milk and cookies, cookie dough icecream, s’mores and warm cookies, fresh from the oven. It’s a cute concept, which my kids loved. The milk is served in old fashioned glass milkbottles, which they’ll clean out and send home with you. The cookies are an insane sugar hit, so maybe don’t look too closely at the list of ingredients, but this is all about the children (and sub-25 year old tourists).