It’s the annual Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival this weekend, where Suffolk producers gather to showcase what they grow, rear and make. I say Suffolk, but we let a few other East Anglians in too, if they ask nicely. I’m biased but I think it’s the best food festival in the country. For sheer quality it’s unbeatable.
Friends will know I can talk for Britain, let alone Suffolk, and for the third year running I’ll be acting as one of the comperes as some of the country’s top cooks take to the stage to demonstrate their skills. I get to meet my food heroes, taste their recipes and occasionally chop their onions (only if they’re desperate).
This year the lovely venue of Snape Maltings plays host to a wide range of chefs (this list may be subject to last-minute changes) including Dan Doherty of Duck and Waffle, the restaurant at the top of the Heron Tower in the City of London. Dan’s signature dishes include a foie gras crème brulee and a spicy ox cheek doughnut.
The food in his new book though is rather more accessible to a home cook. Toast Hash Roast Mash, published by Mitchell Beazley, contains the sort of dishes Dan says he likes to cook for friends and family.
So I thought I’d try out a recipe: a chicken and sweet potato hash with harissa and feta, just the sort of thing you might want to cook after a day wandering the stalls and watching the demos at the Maltings. Marinate the chicken the day before if you can.
Chicken, Harissa, Feta and Sweet Potato
2 chicken legs
3 tablespoons harissa
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
1 large sweet potato
2 spring onions, finely sliced
Small can (about 200g/7oz) of sweetcorn, drained
25g (1oz) butter
Zest of 1 lemon
50g (1¾oz) feta cheese
Preheat your oven to 180C fan/200C conventional oven/400F/gas mark 6.
Cut the chicken legs through the middle, separating the thighs and drumsticks. Put them into a bowl, then add 2 tablespoons of the harissa and massage it into the flesh. Season with salt and pepper. Put the chicken into a roasting tray and roast for 45 minutes.
Pierce the sweet potato and wrap it in foil. Put it into the oven alongside the chicken and bake for 45 minutes. When the chicken is cooked, take it out of the oven and leave it to rest on a wire rack. Remove the potato and set it aside to cool.
Heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the spring onions and cook for 3–5 minutes until soft, without letting them colour. Add the sweetcorn and the final tablespoon of harissa and cook for a further 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
When the potato is cool enough to handle, peel away the skin and cut into roughly 2½cm (1 inch) pieces. Flake the chicken, including the skin, into similar sized pieces, then add the potato and chicken to the frying pan with the spring onion and sweetcorn. Give a good stir and allow to sauté together for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in another frying pan and fry the eggs.
When the hash is ready, divide it between two plates, crumble over the feta cheese and finish with a grating of lemon zest. Top each plate with an egg, season with salt and pepper, then serve.