two4six8 grew up on it.
On hot buttered toast. With cheddar and cucumber on toast (my sister in law’s brilliant invention), a spoonful in my bolognese. And my all time favourite… Honey and Vegemite on toast. Strange, but yum.
I know what you’re thinking. How cliché can you get this close to Australia Day? But honestly, this has nothing to do with kitsch patriotism. My friends will tell you I’m the last person to get excited about celebrating on January 26th. Don’t get me wrong, I love football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars as much as the next bloke. Or should I say, sheila? I usually just hide inside and then head down the beach to clean up after yobs so the turtles don’t have to choke on their rubbish. “Love ‘Straya – just not enough to give a shit about picking up after meself down the beach. That’s some other bloke’s job eh”. You beauty mate. Sorry for the neurotic whinge, I won’t get into politics. You’re not here for politics, you’re here for tasty chicken. Here’s how I got to the Vegemite chicken idea. In fact, it wasn’t me at all, it was a friend, but anyhow…
Last Sunday night after a boozy afternoon, I was at a Chinese restaurant in Brisbane’s China Town, greedily ploughing into a hot plate of Shantung chicken. Although I’ve eaten it a lot I’ve never known how it’s done. And I can never decide if I like the hot, crispy skinned chicken and sweet, sour sauce or the fried spinach garnish better. This blog does a fine job of explaining the dish. Now I know what to do with the bottle of black vinegar I bought randomly over a year ago. And now I know what that sweet, sour, slightly ferment-ish DELICIOUS flavour is that my mate Andy was puzzling over after eating it at the restaurant. He thought it tasted like Vegemite. Maybe. Can’t remember if he said it, or if I thought it, but I’ve been thinking about Vegemite chicken since Sunday. To my mind there had never been such a thing, but I was wrong. Of course it exists. There’s apparently a recipe for Vegemite chicken wings right on the back of the jar! There is nothing new under the sun, as the phrase goes (and so, often, does Andy). A simple google search has consistently annihilated any original culinary idea I’ve ever had, pretty much. Tempting as it was to bastardise the Shantung chicken recipe with the addition/substitution of Vegemite and claim it as my own, although reflecting the true colonial spirit of Australia Day (oops that was political, wasn’t it?) I decided to stick with my Aussie instincts in the use of this most cherished and familiar ingredient.
Here’s what I came up with… It was beautiful – sweet, salty, a little malty. I’m not convinced I’d choose it over Shantung chicken but hey, it was fun to invent something new! Well, new for me anyway.
1 whole chicken, butterflied (I partially de-boned mine)
1 tablespoon Vegemite
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 large sprigs rosemary
a knob of butter (unsalted or low salt preferably)
What you do…
Simply mix all the marinade ingredients in a jug/bowl and stir well to combine, ensuring the sugar and Vegemite have melted/dissolved thoroughly. Hide the rosemary under the bird or under the skin of the bird and then smother with marinade, rub with your hands to ensure even coverage. Cover with glad and refrigerate. As usual, at least an hour is ok or overnight if possible.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Melt around 50 grams of butter. Baste the chicken lightly with butter. Cook for 20 minutes then reduce heat to 180 for about 40 minutes-1 hour depending on the size of your bird. Cover loosely with foil if the skin is burning.
Drain the juices from the pan. If you want to, strain off the chicken fat. Let the cooked chicken rest, covered with foil, for at least 10 minutes. Cut the chicken into pieces and serve with the pan juices.
It puts a rose in every cheek