Recipe: the earthy and elegant chicken in hay from locavore bistro Edulis
By Michael Caballo
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
BAKE TIME: 1 hour 30 minutes
CHICKEN BAKED IN HAY
3½-lb whole chicken
2 large handfuls alfalfa hay, thoroughly washed
5 garlic cloves
1 bunch leeks, trimmed and cut in half
2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp butter
Small handful herbs, such as thyme, parsley and sage, chopped
Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 300º F. Rub butter all over chicken. Season chicken inside and out with salt. Truss chicken, if you like.
2. Spread out a handful of washed hay in a large ovenproof dish or deep roasting pan. Moisten hay with chicken broth; this will become a jus. Scatter garlic, leeks and bay leaves over hay. Place chicken overtop. Cover chicken with remaining handful of hay. Tightly seal with a lid or foil. Let stand for 30 minutes.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour 30 minutes until cooked. Carefully lift lid or open foil, allowing steam to escape. The bird will be done when it is still “medium” or rosy at the thigh joint. Let rest for 15 minutes.
4. Carve chicken. Strain any juices accumulated in bottom of pan into a measuring cup. Add herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Serve chicken immediately with seasoned juices drizzled overtop.
Get to know the farmers at your farmers’ market—they can order in the alfalfa hay for you.
In 2008, chef Michael Caballo and his wife, Tobey Nemeth, left their jobs (as chefs at the Niagara Street Café and Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar, respectively) and hit the road. They visited Caballo’s family in Spain, foraged for wild mushrooms in Italy and helped set up a luxury fishing resort in Panama. “You have to walk away sometimes to see the potential of a place,” said Caballo of their return to Toronto earlier this year, when they transformed the old Niagara Street Café into a casual locavore bistro. At Edulis, they combine slow food principles with centuries-old European recipes. Caballo’s chicken baked in hay and herbs gives off a slightly sweet, heady fragrance that evokes the barnyard (in a good way). It also totally encapsulates the spirit of their restaurant—earthy and elegant.