04 Mar bergamot chicken
A bergamot is a fruit that looks a little like a large, yellow lime but tastes like a sweet lemon. Its distinguishing features are its slightly pear-shaped body and its sweet flesh. You’re probably more familiar with this fruit in its guise as the key flavour of Earl Grey tea, which is made using bergamot oil.
Recently at my local farmers’ market, I stumbled upon a box of bergamots. There weren’t quite enough bergamots in the box to make a marmalade, so instead I carried a couple home with plans to add them to roast meat.
Chicken and citrus love each other. I make a variation of this roast chicken dish often in my kitchen. Sometimes I use a juicy orange, while other times I keep it traditional and use a lemon. I was looking forward to trying it out with bergamot, to see what difference this unusual citrus fruit would make to one of my kitchen favourites. The bergamot certainly adds a subtle floral sweetness to the whole dish, breathing new life into a recipe I’ve cooked many times for my loved ones. It’s always a good idea to experiment with your favourite recipes.
Your best bet to finding bergamots would be to head for your farmers’ market or a specialty food store, such as Fallon & Byrne in Dublin. Bergamots don’t just pop up in any old food store so don’t be worried you can’t find any. You can swap the bergamot for a lemon or an orange.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
1 bergamot (or 1 lemon)
1 head of garlic
4 chicken legs
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of runny honey
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of salt
Half a teaspoon of pepper
1 block or eight slices of halloumi cheese
Large handful of green salad
Extra oil, honey and bergamot (or lemon) juice
- Pre-heat your oven to 200c/180c fan/gas mark 6. Slice the bergamot (or lemon) in half. Slice the head of garlic in half. One half of the garlic will break into small cloves. Don’t worry about peeling the garlic cloves.
- Place the chicken legs in a roasting dish and cover with the honey and cumin seeds. Squeeze the juice of the bergamot (or lemon) all over the chicken legs, and then place the squeezed halves in the roasting dish between the chicken legs. Place the garlic head and cloves into the roasting dish, and sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper.
- Roast the chicken legs in the oven for 45 minutes.
- When the chicken is nearly done, fry your halloumi in a dry, non-stick frying pan for 5 minutes on both sides, until golden and crisp. Place the salad greens in a salad bowl and arrange the halloumi on top. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil, a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of bergamot (or lemon) juice. Sprinkle the salad with salt and pepper.
- Once cooked through, serve the chicken legs with the halloumi salad on the side.
Storecupboard Essential: Halloumi
Halloumi is a sturdy cheese that happily sticks around your fridge for a week or two after buying. When eaten raw, it has an oddly squeaky texture but when fried up it becomes a golden wonder of salty cheese. Seek out Toonsbirdge Dairy’s halloumi, made in Cork.
This recipe first appeared in The Irish Independent on March 3rd