Just over a week ago I received the details of the 8th challenge in the Freshly Blogged competition, which I have been participating in since June. Each week the contestants are given a list of ingredients and a few days to create, cook and photograph a dish using these ingredients. The public have a chance to view the recipes online and vote for their favourites, and each week a panel of judges send a few of the contestants to the chopping block, as it were.
Week 8's challenge entitled "Eat Your Art Out" had me scratching my head for a while. The ingredients we were given were superb and well suited - a whole chicken, chorizo sausage, potatoes, onion, garlic, lemon and sherry. We were told, however, that the recipe and styling had to be inspired by art - an interesting twist!
I was never much of an art enthusiast, but during my travels I have been fortunate enough to visit some of the most famous galleries in the world, particularly in Europe. Since then I have developed a greater appreciation for art, and I drew on these experiences for this challenge.
After reflecting on some of the artists whose works I have seen, I thought it would be fun to mimic the free-form shapes and colourful style of Joan Miró, in particular a pavement mosaic by the artist that I saw on a visit to Las Ramblas in Barcelona. This is the inspiration for my dish – tapas inspired by Barcelona and one of Spain’s most well known artists. The dish includes quesadillas filled with tender sherry-roasted chicken and mature cheddar, fluffy Spanish omelette, sweet and smoky sherry-glazed chorizo and a garlic-infused balsamic reduction.
Once I had the idea finalised I really enjoyed putting the dish together. I was reminded of the versatility of sherry in cooking, and that it's good to have a bit of fun when it comes to plating and styling.
A few notes before you get cooking: You'll see that the recipe calls for a whole chicken, which was what we had to use in the challenge. You can use chicken pieces or even fillets if you prefer, but jointing a whole chicken is surprisingly easy (it only takes a few minutes) and is often the cheaper way to go. If you're not sure how to go about this you'll find a very easy to follow tutorial right here. The Spanish omelette can be served warm or cold, so this can be made ahead of time, (great picnic food idea!).
Oh, and my serving suggestion: best enjoyed with a group of friends and a glass of sherry!
TAPAS À LA MIRO
Garlic Balsamic reduction:
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
1 whole free range chicken (about 1.1kg)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons Sedgwick's Old Brown sherry
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
120g grated mature cheddar cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped coriander
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup warm water
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/2 onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 medium potatoes (about 400g), peeled and thinly sliced
5 large eggs
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 chorizo sausages (about 250g), sliced
100ml Old Brown sherry
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
To make the garlic balsamic reduction:
Step 1.) Place the balsamic vinegar and garlic in a small saucepan. Cover and leave to infuse for 15 minutes.
Step 2.) Place the saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 30 minutes or until it has reduced to a 1/4 cup. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Step 3.) Set aside to cool. Remove garlic pieces before serving.
To make the quesadillas:
Step 1.) Preheat the oven to 190°C. Joint the whole chicken so that you have 8 portions. Place the chicken pieces in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil, sherry and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until cooked through.
Step 2.) Take the meat off the bones, shredding it as you go. Place the chicken in a bowl and add the cheddar cheese, coriander and garlic. Mix well, then set aside in the fridge.
Step 3.) Make the tortillas by mixing the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Add the sunflower oil and most of the warm water and mix until you have a dough. Add additional water if needed. Knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth. Place the dough back in the mixing bowl, cover and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Step 4.) Divide the dough into 8 balls. Use a rolling pin to roll each ball into a thin disc. Heat a saucepan over a medium heat and dry fry each tortilla for 50-60 seconds on each side.
Step 5.) Heat a griddle pan over a medium heat. Place a tortilla in the pan and spread a quarter of the chicken mixture over the top. Place another tortilla on top. Cook for a minute or until the cheese starts to melt. Carefully flip over and cook for another minute or until all the cheese has melted. Remove from the pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.
Step 8.) Cut each quesadilla into quarters to serve.
Step 1.) Heat 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and potato and toss to coat. Reduce the heat and cook gently for 15 minutes or until the potato is tender.
Step 2.) Whisk the eggs with the coriander and a good grinding of salt and pepper. Add the onion and potato and mix.
Step 3.) Heat the remaining tablespoon of sunflower oil in a saucepan. Add the egg mixture and cook over a very low heat for 8-10 minutes, until almost set.
Step 4.) Carefully flip the omelette out onto a plate, then slide it back into the pan to cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
Step 5.) Allow to cool for 5 minutes before cutting into cubes.
Step 1.) Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Fry the chorizo slices for 5 minutes or until they start to crisp.
Step 3.) Add the sherry and lemon juice. Cook for a further 6 minutes until the sherry has reduced and the chorizo is coated.
To assemble, arrange the tapas on a platter and drizzle with balsamic reduction.