MATARIKI KAWAKAWA HEIHEI ME TE BARLEY
Kawakawa Chicken & Barley
Serves 6 – 8
This tasty feed-the-whānau-one-pot-dish is full of peppery and tender fall apart chicken and creamy soft barley. And, if you’ve never tried cooking with fresh kawakawa, this Matariki is a great time to start!
Kawakawa is known as bush basil and has a spicy, deep and peppery flavour creating a slightly numbing sensation on the tongue, a little like Szechuan pepper. To prepare the kawakawa after harvesting, wash gently under cold water and pick the little stem out with your thumb and forefinger. If you can’t access fresh kawakawa use another soft herb to your liking and add a tablespoon of dried oregano to the pot with the vegetables as they fry.
You’ll find kawakawa growing all over the North Island in coastal and lowland bush and in the South Island as far south as Banks Peninsular and Franz Josef. And you might already have it growing in your garden. But if you don’t, once you start looking for it, you’ll find it everywhere! Holy leaves are a sign that the plant is rich in nutrients and healing properties.
Please be respectful and don’t take too many leaves from one plant. A little goes a long way so never pick more than you need. Only ever take a third of what the plant is offering you. So if the plant has three leaves pick one. If it only has one or two, don’t pick them.
And make sure you give thanks to the plant as you pluck. It’s listening.
Mānawatia a Matariki!
1 large free range, organic chicken patted dry inside and out
2 T olive oil
1 leek, sliced
2 carrots, grated
1 bulb garlic minced
2 sticks celery finely sliced
1 large glass white wine (optional)
1 preserved lemon or zest and juice of 2 big lemons
1 T wholegrain mustard
1 T smoked paprika
2 c hulled barley
6 c boiling chicken stock
1 large lime or lemon quartered
12 large kawakawa leaves
Salt and extra paprika for top of chicken
Heat oven to 180°C.
Heat your Ironclad Old Dutch pot to smoking hot. Pour in the olive oil followed by the whole chicken. It will sizzle a little so stand back!
Turn the heat down a little and sear the chicken for about 2 minutes per side, till its golden brown and crunchy. Remove the sizzling chicken from inside the pot and into the lid as you prepare the veggies.
Turn the heat down to low and add the leek, carrots, garlic and celery to the pot. Fry for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring regularly so nothing sticks.
As the veggies fry prepare the chicken by stuffing it with 3 kawakawa leaves and the lime or lemon quarters.
Add wine (or a glass of water) preserved lemon, mustard and smoked paprika to the pot full of veggies and let simmer for 2 -3 minutes. Have a taste. Is the salt from the preserved lemon enough or do you need to use more? If so, add a little more salt.
*** add the preserved lemon to pot in pieces then mush in with the spoon. If using fresh lemon juice and zest add at least 1 t salt.
Pour the barley into the pot and give it a stir, then add the stock and bring to a simmer. Lay the remaining kawakawa leaves on top, then finish by lowering the chicken on top. Sprinkle the top of the chicken with extra salt and smoked paprika. Making sure you cover any skin gaps with extra paprika.
Cook with lid on for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
To serve, gently move the chicken to the lid and carve - or pull apart - the chicken at the table.
Serve with dollops or drizzles of yoghurt or kefir and a little sprinkle of paprika.