Aussie food to me is all about fusion. Australia is a multicultural extravaganza of flavours from across the world, reflecting our population - people who have come together from all over the world to call this beautiful country home.
In the 1950s you might have said Australian cuisine was about meat pies, fish and chips, snags on the barbie, the Sunday roast … and, of course, let’s not forget Vegemite!
But since then our pallets have been wowed by the fabulous flavours of countries like Italy, China, India and more recently, the wonder that is African food.
As you walk down the streets of any of Australia’s beautiful states and territories, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to world cuisine – and then there are those restaurants which classify themselves as “Modern Australian”.
It is this term which I think really encompasses what Aussie food is all about in 2011. It’s about flavours and techniques from across the world coming together to compliment and enhance the things we love and do well here, like seafood, lamb and chicken and an array of fresh produce.
I also think it’s important to embrace indigenous culture and flavours and bush herbs such as lemon myrtle, which is a feature of my recipe, have become really popular.
World famous chef Rick Stein’s pursuit to find Australia’s Top Food Blogger and the country’s ultimate dish inspired me to create this recipe. It embraces our wonderful produce, and the flavours and techniques from all over the world which has influenced our cuisine so much.
The chicken in this recipe is succulent and infused with the flavours of basil and lemon myrtle. The potatoes are crispy and delicious, just like you’d expect from a perfectly cooked Sunday roast. The sausages give a really authentic Aussie touch, with a Balkan twist, and the beans don’t only add colour, but a crispy freshness. When brought together, it’s un unpretentious dish that is fragrant, moist and bursting with flavour.
In a nutshell – it’s the kind of food everyone just loves to eat.
BAKED FUSION CHICKEN
- 16 organic chicken drumsticks (you could also use maryland or thighs, if you like)
- 2 tbs of basil pesto
- The juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp of lemon myrtle
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated
- 1 tsp of sea salt
- 1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbs of olive oil
Combine all of the marinade ingredients. Massage into the chicken, cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- 1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
- 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
- 6 small, skinless pork sausages (also called chevaps, which are actually Balkan), broken into bite-sized pieces
- 8 mushrooms, halved
- 4 whole cloves of garlic, unpeeled
- 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into quarters
- 1 large handful of beans, trimmed
- 1/3 of a cup of water
- 1 tbs of flour
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees celsius (200 for fan forced). In a baking dish, combine the marinated chicken, red onion, potatoes, sausage pieces, mushrooms and garlic with a few good glugs of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Toss with your hands so the marinade coats all the ingredients.
Bake for 50 minutes, checking after 35 minutes to see how it’s progressing.
After an hour, add the tomatoes and beans and stir through. Try to ensure the potatoes are mostly at the top, so they don’t go soggy in the juices, letting them to go golden and crispy. Taste the sauce to check for seasoning and add more, if required. Bake for a further 15 minutes – enough to cook the beans and tomatoes, but so the tomatoes hold their shape.
Serve onto plates, but leave most of the juices in the pan. Place the pan on your stove-top and bring to a gentle boil. Mix the flour and water in a small bowl and add to the simmering juices. Whisk until the sauce starts to thicken. Once a good consistency, spoon over the chicken. Garnish with chopped parsley.
I think this dish doesn’t only reflect the flavours that have been brought to Australia over the past 60 years – but it also reflects the kind of food Australians like to eat every day- food packed with flavour, but without fuss and pretension.
I hope this dish is something my Food Hero, Rick Stein would love! I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!