KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — I’m tired.
In fact, I bet you are tired too. Most of us are, after the 9-to-5 grind of a workday that continues with the endless crawl of a city traffic jam as we depart from our offices or head to our partners’ workplaces as we play chauffeur. It’s a scene repeated every Monday through Friday all over the sprawl of our modern urban jungle.
What follows next needs practically no explanation: Who has the time to cook a nutritious, three-course dinner at home, after all that? It’s far easier to tapao from the neighbourhood daichow, or grab takeaway via the drive-through at your nearest fast food joint. The choice seems to be between a greasy packet of Hokkien mee or a greasy box of burger, French fries and soda.
Surely one can handle the simple instructions for a one-pot dish though? Congee with meatballs comes to mind, as does claypot rice with salted fish. What I usually hanker for though is roast chicken. Is there anything more welcoming than the aroma of chicken being baked in the oven? However, even that comes with its own challenges…
Honestly, I’ll be the first to confess to a fear of handling raw meat in my kitchen. Perhaps I’m too obsessive-compulsive about hygiene; hacking a whole chicken into pieces would entail at least 20 minutes of scrubbing and spraying antiseptic detergent all over my kitchen tiles and sink afterwards.
So, yes, perhaps buying a whole chicken is more economical. Perhaps I should visit the pasar or wet market and get the poultry butcher to cut the entire bird into more manageable pieces. Yet lazybones ol’ me prefers the convenience of dropping by the neighbourhood supermarket and picking up a cling-wrapped polystyrene platter of pre-cut chicken.
Here’s where I made a most blissful discovery (for me, at any rate). Instead of dull slabs of chicken breast or less-than-meaty wings, you could get nothing but drumsticks. And then I made my second discovery: instead of wings, I could just get the “drummets” — what constitute the upper meaty parts of the aforementioned wings.
Of course, this is not unlike a case of the Stone Soup, where the stone (or in this case, the chicken) is never enough. A full-fledged recipe calls for other ingredients — lemons and cherry tomatoes for tartness, onion and garlic for caramelised sweetness, rosemary to impart its savoury aroma, and the indispensable addition of sausages that add crunch, flavour and that special oomph — to make this dish a complete meal.
Maybe this isn’t for those of you who don’t mind toiling away for hours in the kitchen to produce a three-course dinner. You have my admiration and plea for an invitation to your table.
For the rest of us who are more effort-conscious (read: lazy), why not try this recipe? All you need are the ingredients, assembly instructions, and a hot oven. Bon appétit!
BANGERS ‘N’ DRUMS: ROASTED CHICKEN DRUMMETS AND SAUSAGES
(WITH ROSEMARY, LEMON AND CHERRY TOMATOES)
While the real reason for the invention of this dish is sheer sloth (pre-cut pieces of chicken are a blessing), the pairing of chicken and sausage is an age-old match made in heaven.
The intermingling of savoury flavours from roasted chicken drummets (“drums”) and delicious juices from pork sausages (“bangers”) makes this the ultimate comfort dish that is also easy to prepare. You can read a book or watch some television while the dish bakes and perfumes your home with its incredible aroma.
It’s basically a fool-proof dish. My only advice is to make sure you cut the sausages into halves, or score the surface if the links are very small, so that the flavours from the sausage meat blends more easily with the chicken. It also makes them crispier, and who doesn’t love a crispy bit of sausage?
Olive oil (for cooking)
8 pieces chicken drummets or drumsticks
2-3 links of Italian sausages or bratwurst, sliced into halves
1 white onion, sliced into rough segments
1 bulb of garlic, separated into cloves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed from the stem
Juice and zest from 1 lemon
1 dozen cherry tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Toasted pine nuts, for garnishing (optional)
Preheat oven to 200°C. Prepare a large baking dish by covering it with aluminium foil; create two compartments (a larger one for the chicken, a smaller one for the cherry tomatoes) to save unnecessary washing up.
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add some olive oil. When the oil is hot, brown the pieces of chicken drummets (about 5 minutes on both sides). Set aside. Heat up more olive oil to the saucepan and return to heat. Brown the sausages, about 3-4 minutes on each side.
Cover the bottom of the larger aluminium foil compartment with the cut onion and garlic cloves. Arrange the browned pieces of chicken and sausages on top of this layer. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle with half of the rosemary, and add the lemon juice and zest. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Toss to mix well.
In the smaller aluminium foil compartment, add the cherry tomatoes. Toss with the remaining extra-virgin olive oil, rosemary, sea salt and black pepper. Do not add lemon juice and zest to this as the tomatoes are quite tart already and will produce juices as they roast.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes till golden brown. Midway during the cooking time, turn every piece of chicken and sausage over. Serve with a generous sprinkle of toasted pine nuts if desired.
Yield: A delicious meal for four when paired with a green salad and some crusty bread.
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