Its funny how becoming an old timer in the kitchen can create a sense of occasionally misguided confidence; dishes you thought you were inventing turn out to be already in existence. Is it the result of pure arrogance on the part of the cook to imagine they might be able to create something both totally original and utterly delicious? There are chefs creating highly original dishes, though the basis of each dish inevitably tends to remain the same. So to qualify for the accolade of originality, must a dish require new ingredients? Where does the quest for originality end? I’m not there yet, up amongst the elite brigade of foodsmiths and inventors, who research ingredients, technique, flavours, nutrition and presentation in a bid to deliver an experience that transcends straightforward gastronomy. These culinary experts and innovators bridge the gaps between cuisine and science, cuisine and art, cuisine and entertainment. There may be a new term to encompass this movement, such as cuisinnovation, or culinarification, or foodsploitation. Who knows what weird and wonderful moniker will be coined in time? For my part I am happy to tinker away in the hopes that at some point I will come across the pot of cook’s gold, as does happen on occasion. For example discovering smoked paprika for the first time, pairing grilled piquillo peppers with dolcelatte, marinating fillet steak bites in vodka, marmite and sesame oil and searing them with gruyere grilled atop. The following dish was inadvertently created after shopping in Brixton market and is similar in structure to provencal chicken, with a few flourishes here and there. I guarantee you it is absolutely delicious.
In a large heavy bottomed deep cast iron frying pan, add a good glug of olive oil over medium heat and fry 2 cloves of chopped garlic with dried ginger, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne and turmeric. Take four good sized chicken thighs and brown them in this warm scented mixture of spices, ensuring an even coating. Keep the meat turning as it cooks for another four to five minutes, then add a small handful of cubed chorizo and a good tablespoon of finely chopped sage, thyme and oregano. Next give it a half glass of a good quality bone dry white wine, put a lid on it and leave to simmer away for five minutes. When you next take the lid off it should be smelling mighty fine. Flip the chicken so the skin side is facing, up as you will crisp this towards the end. Place two whole red peppers in with their skin on, add a dozen or so black olives and as many diced new potatoes with 300 mls of simmering stock and put the lid back. Intermittently spoon the simmering juices over the peeking tops of the thighs (I know, it sounds racy, do try to control yourself). Whilst you’re at it douse the skins with the juice of a lemon quarter for added piquancy. This dousing and braising should continue for a quarter hour with the lid on and off, adding stock as you declare it right according to the laws of your own palette. I like it moist, slightly wet but not drenched. Fire up the grill. Peel the peppers. Sluice the juice that pours from them when you slice in to their tips, back to the pan, with the de-seeded square cut flesh. Cover it again, so as to seal in the flavours, the moisture and the light intensity. Keep this affair simmering away as an adulterous harlot might until such a time as you recognise its readiness – a gift attributed to the deftest of temptresses. At this point baste again and grill the readied skins until they crisp lightly. Make a gremolata by chopping flat leaf parsley with olive oil, lemon juice and water and drizzle across your readied dish. The process from start to finish should take no longer than forty five man minutes. Any longer and you must strap your socks up. Now run along, fleet footed, sock strapped and fed up harlot that you are.