Tuesday, 31 March 2009

TGRWT #16 - Chicken and Rose Ice Cream

This dish has brought many an eyebrow raise among those who I've mentioned it to. It's probably the strangest thing I've ever made. No, tell a lie, when I was a child I decided I wanted to make a pudding/dessert with cheese. So I asked my mum what went well with cheese. She said to check the cupboard and to ask her if I wasn't sure something would work. So I went away and came back.
"Do dates go with cheese?" "Ah, yes I suppose they would."
Came back later.
"How about raisins, do they go with cheese" "Yes, they do"
"Does Ragu sauce go with cheese" "Yes of course"
So I layered them all on top of each other: cheese, dates, cheese, raisins, cheese, cheese and ragu sauce, then baked it in the oven. My mum's reaction was "Well it's certainly not a pudding".
Maybe all the ingredients did go with cheese, but perhaps not with each other, or in that way.

Does rose go with ice cream? Yes, very much so: turkish delight and ice cream - a perfect match.
Does rose go with chicken? Well that's what we're trying to find out in this month's TGRWT.
Does chicken go with ice cream? Well, in my mind why not? And look the Japanese have tried it, amongst other strange things like eel ice cream.... and David Lebowitz has just made some bacon ice cream - and he must know what he's doing, he's an expert.

So, gung ho I jumped into my first bash at making ice cream. Here's the resultant recipe:

Rose Ice Cream (adapted from Geoff Lindsey's recipe)
250ml milk
15g dried rose petals
125g caster sugar

4 egg yolks 68g

250ml cream (35% butterfat)

50ml rosewater

Bring the milk and half the sugar to the boil. Pour slowlyish onto the egg yolks in a bowl with the rest of the sugar, whisking constantly. Put back on heat to thicken into a custard. Strain into a bowl (metal) over an ice bath and stir while it cools. Whisk in the rest of the cream and the rose water and churn in an ice cream maker (I was all set to make mine in the freezer but then I found one of these for a tenner in a charity shop - strange coincidence). Put in the rose petals just before you stop the churning and then put in the freezer.

[NOTE: This isn't exactly the recipe I used, I didn't have any cream at this point so tried to make some with some xanthan gum and milk. This worked okay, but the ice cream sets very hard and then melts quickly when removed from freezer (as opposed to the chicken ice cream which behaves properly). I suppose the clue is in the name: you've gotta have Cream in iceCream]

Chicken Ice Cream (adapted from David Lebowitz's - bacon ice cream recipe

For the caramelised chicken:
500g of small, tasty chicken legs
(i.e. not pumped full of water from a supermarket, you'll be drying them out so it'd take ages)
Lots of brown sugar.

For the ice cream custard:
3 tablespoons (45g) salted butter
¾ cup (packed) brown sugar (170g), light or dark (you can use either)
2¾ (675ml) cup half-and-half
5 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons dark rum or whiskey
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Cover the chicken legs in sugar and put under a medium hot grill/broiler. Basically just add more sugar every so often and turn. After a while it'll look like they're over cooked. Take them out of the grill and pull off the bone. Pull the meat apart (don't cut) into the thinnest amount possible and then charge up with more sugar and put back in the grill. The skin will cook quickest so you might want to take it out before it burns. Keep adding the sugar. At the end you'll end up with a load of chewy, really sweet chicken. This is really tasty, but don't eat it all. Cut it into tiny wee chunks and put in the fridge.

Make the ice cream as with the rose, adding the vanilla and rum (I used calvados as it's all I had) at the point where you added the rose water. Stir in the chicken where you stirred in the rose petals.

Make some little oblong moulds the size of the cross section of your ice cream tub. Alternate the chicken and the rose ice creams along your tub by first getting the shape with the mould and then turning out into the tub (you might need to use cling film to stop it sticking).

The world seems to be divided on whether this dish works or not. For example: My flatmates and I really like it; My sister thinks it may be almost as bad as garlic soup (the only food she doesn't like). The average seems to be "Hmmm, wellll......".
The taste begins with the rose ice cream, which is a very strong flavour. The chicken ice cream itself does not have a strong taste in comparison to this and so the caramelised chicken is only really noticable when most of the other ice cream has melted leaving you with a nugget of caramel and chickenyness.
This seems to be the main point of divide: some people look forward to this slow morph from very perfumy to vaguely savoury - it certainly makes you want another bite (if only to get you back to a puddingy taste). Others think that chicken just shouldn't be in ice cream.
One thing great that did come out of this (as there has been no definitive decision as to whether the dish is great) was heavily caramelised chicken skin. I used some of this to make into sprinkles and they work amazingly. There isn't the lagging chewyness of the flesh and the flavour is full of that which makes the bits of chicken go well with the rose (and it does, but I can't tell you exactly how, just something about it). Next time I may incorporate some of this skin earlier on in the recipe (when thickening the custard maybe), so it is strained and the flavour is there, but you're not left chewing chicken - which, as I've said some people like and some don't.
Next time I will also make the rose ice cream less rosy, and out of cream not just milk.

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