That Kentucky Colonel revolutionised chicken in this country. Before then, chicken was seldom served in our house except as a birthday treat. Nowadays chicken is a regular on the family table and it comes in all guises – from a traditional roast chook to homemade soups, curries and salads.
Roast chicken + 2016 Patina Reserve Chardonnay, Orange, A$45
Roast chicken is still a treat. Mum’s gravy has been replaced with reduced pan juices cut with a splash of Orange Mountain Verjus. And the wine? I reckon chardonnay is the go-to here, and one with a bit of punch. Gerald Naef’s Reserve is well structured and complex with a cleansing acid-etched finish that happily laps up the crispy baked vegetables (parsnip is essential, along with pumpkin, kumara and potatoes) and those delicious pan juices.
Coq au vin + 2018 Chatto Huon Valley Pinot Noir, Tasmania, A$55
At the opposite end of the spectrum to the simplicity of a roast chicken is coq au vin. The hefty measure of red wine and slow cooking infuses the chicken with rich umami flavours – I add mushrooms for extra punch. Wine-wise for me it’s a toss-up between a decent cru Beaujolais and a lithe-framed pinot noir. A bottle of Jim Chatto’s latest Huon Valley Pinot made the perfect match. The use of stalks in the ferment adds layers of complexity and a savoury note that endears itself to this robust chicken dish.
Chicken tagine + 2017 Snake + Herring Bizarre Love Triangle Frankland River, Great Southern, A$29
My favourite chicken tagine recipe comes from Andy Harris’ cookbook A Month in Marrakesh, and includes green olives and lots of preserved lemon. The spices used are fresh coriander, cumin, ginger, ground coriander and saffron along with the mandatory onion and garlic. A dry rosé or light-bodied red would work well but I’ve taken a liking to Alsace-style blends in the Gentil or Edelzwicker mould. The Bizarre Love Triangle combines riesling, pinot gris and gewürztraminer – each building structure and adding the depth of flavour necessary to match the exotic spices of the tagine.
Chicken & sweet corn soup + Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla Sherry, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain, A$20/375ml
I take a retro approach to the benchmark soup I discovered in Sydney’s Dixon Street Chinatown in the 1970s. I make my own chicken stock, use chicken breast, lots of ginger, shallots and fresh corn – not the canned variety of my youthful culinary efforts. I think dry Sherry is much overlooked and it really works well here. The La Gitana is quite delicate with lively sea-spray flavours and a bone-dry finish. A lightly chilled sake would make a compelling alternative.
Thai chicken curry + 2018 De Bortoli Bella Riva Sangiovese Rosé, King Valley, A$18
This stalwart dish takes a little slicing and dicing but never fails to impress. The inclusion of fresh corn and snow peas enlivens the spice-laden chicken (I cheat and use two commercial green curry pastes) with its creamy coconut flavours. My fallback wine is a textural, dry rosé – here the savoury flavours of the Bella Riva Sangiovese create an extra link to the curry.
Korean Fried Chicken + 2019 Robert Stein Dry Riesling, Mudgee, A$35
A young Korean by the name of Sammy Jeon came to Orange a decade ago. He fell into cooking with a popular sushi stall at the local markets before opening his authentic Korean diner, Mr Lim. His take on Korean fried chicken is terrific with a spice-laden, super crunchy crust and moist flavoursome chicken. Riesling is the go, its fresh citrusy flavours and piercing acidity perfect to clean up the slight oiliness of the chicken. Jacob Stein’s latest Dry Riesling is right on the mark.
Not in Kentucky anymore
I much prefer Korean Fried Chicken to that takeaway stuff. I pay a little extra for hormone-free, free-range chickens – you really can taste the difference.