Padovan Chicken in a Bag (Gallina Padovana alla Canevera)
Padua is in the Veneto, the region around Venice, and this is one of its signature dishes. It is a sort of poached chicken recipe where the chicken was originally cooked in a pig's bladder and the air ventilated out with the use of a cane or 'canevera' in the dialect of the Veneto. Fortunately we now have plastic bags that will do the trick. The resulting flavours are intense and delicious, especially when the soft moist chicken is served with the stuffing apples and vegetables.
The quality of the chicken really shows in this dish as the flavour is concentrated in the bag as it cooks. It's a really easy dish to put together, despite the need for a piece of cane and a plastic bag; it doesn't need the skills of Heath Robinson to put it together! I haven't specified the weight of the chicken as for two you could use a poussin and adjust the stuffing ingredients to suit. You could also put extra breast meat in the bag stuffed with extra finely chopped vegetables to bump up the quantity. Equally, to feed a large family, you can use a massive chicken and put more stuffing ingredients inside. You should use as much stuffing as you can fit into the bird as the resulting flavours of these are delicious. A poussin will take around 1 hour and a large chicken around 2 hours.
1 free-range organic chicken
for the stuffing
2 teaspoons salt
1-2 apples, chopped into 10 pieces and seeds removed
1 onion, roughly chopped into 10 pieces
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1 fat garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
1 length of cane, about 30cm (12 inches)
1 roasting bag large enough to fit your chicken
Season the chicken generously inside and out, then fill the cavity with as much of the stuffing ingredients as you can through the larger hole. Fold over the skin and secure with string by tying the legs together tightly to close the cavity.
Put the chicken into the bag with the sewn cavity end facing down. Insert the length of cane into the bag but leave the end poking well out of the top of the bag. Now tie the bag around the cane with string, winding it around the closure several times then leaving two 10cm (4-inch) lengths of string dangling from the knot.
Put the bag into a large saucepan or stockpot. Rest a long wooden spoon or another length of cane across the top of the pan to one side and tie the lengths of string on to it. (This is so that the bag doesn't fall completely into the water, the closure remains above the surface of the water and the cane sticks out of the pan to one edge.) Now fill the pan with enough water to cover the chicken in the bag. At this stage the bird will bob up to the surface, but as it cooks and the steam comes out of the bag via the cane it will fall. You can always weigh it down with a large stone. Bring the water to the boil and then let it simmer gently for the required time until the chicken is cooked through. This could be 21/2 to 3 hours for an average chicken. I tend to err on the side of caution and overcook it, as it doesn't spoil in the bag and it is difficult to assess its cooking while in the water – and this ensures that the vegetables are well cooked too.
When cooked take the chicken out of the bag and carve as you wish, serve the vegetables with it and pour the juices from the bag over the chicken. I have served it hot with potatoes or allowed it to cool to room temperature and enjoyed it as a salad on a big wooden board dressed with the juices from the bag.
(c) Katie Caldesi 2011
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Author: Katie Caldesi Email: email@example.com