Vanilla bland has to be one of the most meaningless phrases I’ve ever heard. And should I hear it again, I will let my fury run wild.
For many years, I endured a certain person I saw almost every day speak of the apparent commonness of vanilla – plain Jane, no thrills, no fancies. In all honesty, there was no venom, no poison in his comments but each mention left me perplexed as he would say ‘Vanilla bland’, then go on to mention how its blandness though was not a bad thing, but merely, the ‘standard’, the average, normal…..state of being.
In the plan? ‘Redefining’ vanilla bland; a fly by to the Reunion islands (with Bourbon vanilla pods) and a fine chicken recipe. Game anyone?
This recipe is a stuffed chicken one adapted from 'Chicken & Egg' by Laurence and Gilles Laurendon. I changed the recipe by making a paste of the vanilla pods instead of using the whole pods (this amplifies the vanilla flavour) adding some citrus zest to the stuffing and substituting a blended heavy cream instead of quark/fromage blanc. —Kitchen Butterfly
- Makes 1 whole chicken
2 Bourbon vanilla pods
2 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
1 raw whole broiler/oven-ready chicken, about 1.5 kg
200g Heavy (whipping) cream (or quark/fromage blanc)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon/orange
1 and 1/2 cups of fresh breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dried red pepper flakes
- Day 1: Make vanilla powder - To get vanilla powder, microwave the vanilla pods on your highest setting, for 20 - 30 seconds or more till the pods puff up and become crisp. (Or sun-dry/dehydrate/oven dry them). Note that it will depend on various factors how quickly this happens. 1) The dryness of the pores prior to heating and 2) Your microwave. Once puffed up, let cook down and then blitz in your food processor/spice grinder/coffee grinder till smooth. Store in an airtight container (and refrigerate). See http://food52.com/recipes/5662_homemade_vanilla_powder for more
- Day 1: Reserve 1/3 of the vanilla powder for the stuffing. To make the vanilla paste, combine the remaining 2/3s vanilla powder with the unsalted butter. Make slits in the chicken and slide some of the vanilla paste underneath the skin and in the cavity. Rub the skin with the rest of the paste and wrap the chicken in cling film. Allow to rest overnight in the refrigerator. To make the stuffing - mix the reserved portion of vanilla powder with the heavy cream, citrus zest and 2 tablespoons of citrus juice and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Stir well, cover and store in the refigerator overnight.
- Day 2: Remove the clingfilm from the chicken. Season the cavity with salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Then stuff with the breadcrumb mixture. If you can find oven string, truss up the bird, otherwise close the cavity, with baking needles so the filling doesn't ooze out.
- Day 2: Place on a roasting tray and set in the middle of the preheated oven. Cook for 1.25 – 1.5 hours, basting the chicken with its juices and giving it a quarter turn every 15 – 20 minutes (most tedious part of the task!), until the chicken is cooked and tender. When done, allow it rest for 15 – 20 minutes then carve….or tear apart, serving with dollops of the stuffing, some (old) vanilla pods and some roasted potatoes
- And dare anyone to ever say the phrase 'Vanilla-bland'!