I thought I was all done with Port Eliot inspired dishes but I’ve actually got at least two more. Today’s is a much simpler version of the absolutely enormous salamagundi I saw Jeremy Lee make whilst he chatted to Rachel Cook.
A salamagundi is basically a giant salad and is as much fun to eat as it is to say. The dish originated in early 17th century England and was made with a variety of meats, fishes, fruits and vegetables.
Lee had all sorts of things in his: chicken, pigeon, anchovies, soft boiled eggs, broad beans, peas, a vast array of leaves and herbs, cherries, peaches, tomatoes, carrots, broad beans, fennel, beetroot… Enough that every mouthful would have been different. It was vast and beautiful and the perfect thing to feed a crowd on a lazy summer lunchtime.
Mine is more minimalist. But, like Lee’s, it is all about the contrasts: salty samphire and sweet cherries, plump chicken and crunchy vegetables, warm gravy and cool greens.
(This uses only half the chicken, leaving you with the rest for another day. If you want to eat the whole thing then double the quantities of the other ingredients and consider adding one or two of the optional extras mentioned at the end.)
Summer Salamagundi with Chicken, Cherries and Samphire (serves 4 as a light lunch)
1 small free-range chicken
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 lemon
- 4 little gem lettuces
- handful rocket
- 100g samphire
- 150g cherries
- several sprigs of fresh mint
- sherry vinegar
- pinch sugar
- Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Massage the olive oil and butter into the chicken’s skin and season generously with salt and pepper. Pierce the lemon a few times with the tip of a sharp knife and put it inside the cavity. Roast the chicken for 20 minutes per 500g plus and extra 20 minutes.
- While it is cooking, prepare the other ingredients. Wash the samphire and check it over, removing any woody stems. Boil it for two minutes then drain and leave to cool. Stone the cherries and cut them in half. Separate the lettuces into individual leaves and shred the hearts.
- When the chicken is done remove it from the oven and leave to cool. When it’s comfortable to handle, remove and discard the lemon. Hold the bird vertically so all the cooking juices run into the roasting tin then remove it to a plate and pick all the meat from the bones (keep them for stock).
- Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large serving platter. Top with the rocket and samphire, then the chicken and cherries.
- Add a splash of sherry vinegar to the pan juices - taste carefully as obviously the amount needed will depend on how generous the juices are. Warm the mixture slightly, scraping to make sure all the sticky bits from the tin are incorporated. You don’t want it to be piping hot, just warm enough to melt any gelatinous, stocky bits and take the sting out of the vinegar.
- Pour the gravy/dressing over the salad just before serving and sprinkle on the mint.
Ifs And Ands
- Peaches or nectarines would be good here instead of the cherries.
- Mackerel or another oily fish would work instead of chicken.
- Play with different herbs such as basil or dill and different leaves. A old-fashioned butter lettuce would give the dish a nostalgic feel.
- Bring in even more textural contrast with some sliced boiled eggs (hard or soft, as you prefer) or crumbled goat or sheep cheese. Maybe some capers for little pops of acid.