This is one of our favourite starters as it’s not particularly filling yet it delivers an almighty punch of flavour to kickstart a celebratory three-course feast. It makes use of the by-products from the roasted chicken used in the main course (a wild garlic & chicken lasagne!), namely chicken fat and chicken skin. It thus offers the essence of chicken without any actual chicken – a vegentric Caesar salad, if you will! The golden chicken fat is used to crisp up sourdough croutons, and deliciously salty shards of crispy chicken skin are scattered through the salad. Everything is enveloped in a creamy and garlic-y walnut Caesar dressing…
Rosé is a really fun pairing for this celebratory Bank Holiday starter. A slightly darker rosé works well as its light tannins lend the wine a little more structure which helps it stand up well against the punchy dressing. Make sure to choose a dry rosé; we opted for a South African Mourvèdre Rosé which offered delightful Spring-y flavours of pomegranate, crushed strawberries and rose. A dry rosé will have bright acidity to help cut through the chicken fat croutons.
- Prep time: 2 hours (to roast the chicken for both starter + main)
- Cooking time: 10 mins.
- This recipe serves 6
For the salad:
- 1 whole chicken (the same chicken as you’re roasting for the main course)
- 4-6 bulbs chicory or baby gem
- 60 g parmesan
- 4-6 stalks tarragon
For the croutons & crispy skin:
- 6 slices sourdough
- 6 tbsp chicken fat
- 1 tsp flakey sea salt
- all excess chicken skin
For the dressing:
- 16 walnut halves
- 1 small clove of garlic
- 5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup water
- 1 ½ tsp flakey sea salt
- Both the starter and the main course in this feasting menu start with roasting the chicken. The crispy skin and golden chicken fat go into the Caesar salad starter, and the meat of the chicken goes into the lasagne. For both, you’ll need to roast your chicken in advance.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Pat your chicken dry with kitchen paper then slather with butter or olive oil – or a little of both! – and season generously with flakey sea salt. Sit in a snugly fitting tray and roast in the preheated oven. The cooking time is 15 minutes per 450g, plus an extra 20-30 minutes. Baste the golden fat back over the chicken at least once during cooking. Once cooked, check that the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a skewer. Allow to cool before carving.
- Once your chicken is cool peel off the skin in largeish pieces and lay these onto one half of a lined baking tray. Pour all the roasting juice and fat into a measuring jug and set this in the fridge. The fat and the chicken jus will naturally separate as the mixture cools. Once cool, remove the fat. It’s best to crack on with the chicken lasagne filling now too if making.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, and melt the chicken fat in a small saucepan over a low heat.
- Tear your sourdough into croutons, then toss with the hot chicken fat and a generous pinch of sea salt. Scatter the croutons over the other half of the baking tray, and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until both the chicken skin and the croutons are golden and crispy. Allow to cool.
- To make the dressing first mince or finely grate the garlic, then combine everything in a nutribullet or small jug blender and whizz until ultra-smooth and creamy.
- Pick apart the chicory or baby gem leaves, and roughly chop if you wish. Strip the tarragon leaves from their stalks and finely chop. Finely grate the parmesan.
- Muddle everything together in a large mixing bowl (we find hands work best for this!) then serve onto individual plates, perhaps topping with a little extra grated parmesan.
- Enjoy with a glass or two of rosé, ideally in the sunshine!