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12th Century Byzantine Chicken

Greek
Version 3

This sensational dish of the 12th century contained ‘subtleties’ - ingredients for guests to comment on Mediterranean sea trade - three kinds of dark pepper spices and five kinds of olives. What is unusual is this is chicken and not game bird. Chicken being mild, shows your spices more strongly. It speaks, 'I am a merchant of the world, I am in the pepper.' NOTE This is a political chicken. The olives are the host’s intentional placement to discuss Mediterranean issues. Pits are left in to make special points about ports of origin. Trident forks were used to confuse barbarians who will succumb to fingering food with lavash bread.
Ingredients
host:
1 large chicken, about 4 pounds, quartered and jointed

resurrection mix:
1/4 cup Spanish green olives, brined, pitted for vanity
1/4 cup small Picholine green olives, brined, pitted for vanity
1/4 cup Castelvetrano or other large Sicilian green olives, brined, pits in for politics
1/4 cup large Calabrese green olives, well-brined, pits in for politics
1/4 cup small Nicoise black olives, brined, pits in for flavor
1/4 cup olive oil
6 fresh bay leaves
1 dried bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon black seeds crushed from dried green cardamom pods (divided use)

concoction mass:
1/4 head garlic, peeled, cut to puree
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (like Baleine Sel De Mar or other Bretagne salt)
1 teaspoon just ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon crushed grains of paradise
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup pitted dried plums (prunes), at least one per guest
3 tablespoons capers with juice

for the fires:
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup honey

benediction of grace:
2 tablespoons parsley, finely cross-chopped
Steps
1 Preparation. Before the day of the feast, well before you have to light candles, begin the resurrection of the olives by rinsing them quickly of their brine, except the Calbrese or any a fruitier tasting ones. In a small crockery, put all olives with olive oil. Stir in circles twelve times.

2 In a stone crushing bowl put 30 or so green cardamom pods. With stone pestle, crush off the shell to release the black seeds from inside. Lay dried bay leaf on top of black seeds. Crush leaf onto seeds until seeds show their whiteness - making sure the bay leaf blankets them. Pulverize, infusing the dead spirit of bay with the sweet spirit of seed. When the bay leaf is a skeleton you are done. Pour it all into the olives crockery and stir in squares twelve times.

3 Thumb each fresh bay leaf with bit of olive oil. Add bay to crockery to resurrect olives. Stir in crosses twelve times.

4 In a large crock combine jointed chicken, garlic, oregano, salt, half the pepper, red wine vinegar, prunes, capers. Add the aforementioned crockery olive oil-bay melange. Coat the fowl generously by stirring the pot twelve times.

5 Cover concoction and keep ice-box cool overnight. If you have no facility, then begin the preparation the morning of the feast.

6 Day of Feast. Heat oven near bread baking temperature, 375°F.

7 Use large baking pan and space out chicken pieces. Pour marinade evenly over the chicken. Sprinkle grains of paradise, evenly.

8 Drizzle on wine, then honey.

9 Bake 30 minutes, basting with pan juices every 10 minutes.

10 Check that honey is turning golden. If it is, then drop temperature, 350°F. Sprinkle a small amount of cracked black pepper. Baste. Cook a total of 45 minutes, until honey is golden, but not blackened.

11 Pour off the pan juices in a sauce boat.

12 No recipe calls itself Byzantine without at least twelve steps. Serve in solid gold or silver-rimmed plate. First lay a bed of saffron rice, then place chicken. Garnish with parsley.


Yield
servings  use metric
original recipe yield: 4-6 Servings
Notes An Emperor would serve this unique Greek-style chicken in 12th century Byzantium to visiting nations. On October 3, 1147 King Louis, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and the French host , half-way on their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, arrived at the Greatest City in the World. Twelve cities the size of Paris or London could fit within the three walls of Byzantium. Eleanor's chef Tova, scribed this recipe originally for 40 chickens and two gallons of twelve types of Mediterranean olives. A great deal of math was done to yield a dish for four.

For you cooks back home, take heed of her majesty's chef kind advice: black pepper and grains of paradise are an exotic delight, but because you may not have the silver, and the spice shows up only temporarily at the docks, make use of Herbes d' Aquitaine, a pungent near-pepper-like blend. This domestic mix helps us curb our dependence of foreign pepper. Take note: Herbes d'Aquitaine, like garlic, can be purchased at Queenhythe on the Thames. It is first choice of better manciples.

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