Australian Functional Ingredients – by Vic Cherikoff

Paperbark Chicken

Paperbark is a natural product which is used for its visual appeal as a platter liner and for service or when used as a cooking wrap, imparts a delicate smokey flavour from oils in the paperbark. This technique is the easiest way to smoke and cook meats in bark on a hot plate, char-grill or in a pan. Paperbark is also low in tannins and while indigestible, is harmless if consumed accidentally.

2 chicken thigh fillets per person
a generous pinch of lemon myrtle
1 piece of damp paperbark, appropriately thinned
salt
oil for frying
natural fibre string

Sear the smooth skinned outer side of the fillets in a hot oiled pan, on a hot plate or char-grill browning one side only. Remove from heat. Cut a long pocket working from the thicker end and spoon in the sauce or chutney. Place the fillet, browned side up, onto the paperbark and wrap it lengthwise then folding the ends over the browned top side of the fillet. Tie up with the string. (Note: Preparation to this stage can be done even several days in advance of service, if necessary.) Place the paperbark parcel into a very hot dry pan, onto a hot plate or over a char-grill and heat to smoking. Continue cooking to completely blacken all sides of the parcel. Test for doneness by feel then leave to rest for five minutes. For a cold dish, chill overnight at this stage, fully unwrap and fine slice to 2mm thick slices to be served cold. To serve hot, after the resting, remove any remaining string and unfold the paperbark ends. Cut these close to the fillet which will now sit browned side up. Unfold the bark further and fold back and under the fillet. Slice, plate up and serve with appropriate accompaniments.

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Vic Cherikoff