Grilled chicken with radicchio, fennel and walnuts


  • Serves 4 people

"How do I make Paper Daisy's gorgeous chicken and radicchio salad at home?
Peta Lennox, Collaroy, NSW

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  • 1 small chicken (about 900gm)
  • 75 gm fine sea salt
  • ½ bunch each lemon thyme and dill, coarsely torn
  • 1 navel orange, rind thinly zested with a peeler, pith removed and flesh segmented
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 radicchio, thick white sections discarded, leaves coarsely torn
  • To serve: dill sprigs
  • Pickled fennel
  • 50 gm (2½ tbsp) fine sea salt
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 500 ml (2 cups) chardonnay vinegar
  • 25 gm caster sugar
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 each star anise and clove
  • Candied walnuts
  • 80 gm walnuts
  • 80 gm caster sugar
  • For deep-frying: sunflower oil
  • Orange dressing
  • 200 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 50 ml chardonnay vinegar
  • 50 gm caster sugar
  • 2 tsp walnut oil
  • 100 ml grapeseed oil
01   For pickled fennel, stir salt and 500ml water in a saucepan over medium heat until salt dissolves (1-2 minutes). Set aside to cool (20-30 minutes), then place in a ziplock bag with whole fennel and squeeze air from bag while sealing it so fennel is covered completely in brine. Set aside in a cool dark place for 3 days. Meanwhile, stir vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat to dissolve sugar, then set aside to cool. Dry-roast spices over low-medium heat until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Remove fennel from brine, rinse under cold running water, shake off excess water, and place in a ziplock bag with vinegar mixture and spices, seal squeezing out air so fennel is covered. Set aside in a cool dark place until fennel is pickled through to the centre (2 weeks). Remove fennel and thinly slice on a mandolin before serving.
02   Wash chicken, pat dry with paper towels. Place on a wire rack place over a tray and refrigerate uncovered for 2 days to dry out skin.
03   Stir salt and 500ml water in a saucepan over medium heat until dissolved (2-4 minutes). Add 1 litre cold water and set aside until cooled completely (1 hour). Place chicken in a deep non-reactive container that fits it snugly, cover with brine and refrigerate until chilled (1 hour). Remove from brine, dry with paper towels and return to refrigerator on a rack with tray underneath for an hour to dry again.
04   Meanwhile, for candied walnuts, preheat oven to 180C and line a heatproof tray with baking paper. Roast walnuts on an oven tray, shaking occasionally, until golden brown (5-7 minutes). Transfer walnuts to a saucepan with sugar and 80ml water and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, then boil without stirring until nuts are glazed and sugar reaches 120C (5-6 minutes). Pour onto prepared tray, separate nuts with a fork and set aside to cool (10-15 minutes). Heat oil to 170C in a deep saucepan and deep-fry nuts in batches until caramelised (1½-2 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon, drain briefly on paper towels, then transfer to a plate to cool. Store in an airtight container if not using immediately.
05   Meanwhile, for orange dressing, reduce 150ml orange juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat to a medium-thick glaze (5-7 minutes). Add vinegar and sugar and reduce again to a thick syrup (2½-3 minutes). Add remaining juice, whisk in oils, season to taste and set aside.
06   Heat a charcoal barbecue (or use a char-grill pan and and finish the cooking in a 160C oven). Stuff cavity of chicken with herbs and orange rind, truss chicken legs with twine and bring chicken to room temperature (45 minutes to 1 hour). Season chicken to taste, rub with oil and grill directly on all sides until browned (7-9 minutes). Set rack to indirect heat and cover barbecue, or transfer chicken to an oven tray and roast in oven until just cooked through (30-40 minutes). Set aside to rest in a warm place (10-15 minutes), then carve into bite-size pieces.
07   To serve, layer radicchio, chicken and pickled fennel on a large platter and season to taste. Drizzle with dressing and scatter with orange segments, walnuts and dill.

Note "The balance between sweet and sour is key to getting dressing the radicchio leaves to counteract their bitterness," says Paper Daisy chef Ben Devlin. "The pickled fennel needs to be made early but it can be used for so many things and it's a great condiment to keep in the fridge." Start this recipe two and a half weeks ahead to pickle the fennel; you need two days to dry out the chicken skin.

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