This recipe brings together all the winter flavours of Adelaide into a super simple dinner. Fennel seeds, orange and lemon can be foraged fairly easily. The hero of the dish is the oil that’s been freshly pressed from a friends family farm, bringing all the flavours together.
1kg chicken thighs
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons salt
2 large fennel bulbs
1/3 cup cold water
1 garlic clove, finely grated
2 teaspoons cornflour
Create the marinade by mixing together the oil, mustard, fennel seeds, salt, zest and juice of the oranges and lemon. Add the chicken, toss through so the chicken is well covered and marinate for a few hours or overnight if you can.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Cut the tube bits off the fennel and then cut each bulb into 12 wedges. Place the fennel into a large flat baking tray and put the marinated chicken and marinade on top of the fennel. Toss the marinade through the fennel but make sure the chicken is sitting on top of the fennel when placing it in the oven. Give the chicken a last drizzle of oil and bake for at least 1 1/2 hours.
Take the baking tray out of the oven then place the fennel and chicken into a serving plate. Make a gravy out of the juices by putting the baking tray onto a high heat on the stove. Mix the water and the cornflour together until there are no lumps. Then add to the pan juices. Add the clove of garlic and using a whisk mix the gravy for a few minutes until it starts to thicken.
There is a street in Adelaide that’s planted out with citrus trees as the street trees. They’re mostly oranges but there are a few lemons and cumquats in the mix. I’d love to know the story about how this cooperative act came about. They are clearly still enthusiastic about the citrus trees because I saw some more newer plantings down the end of the street. Verges and their street trees have so much potential for both food production and greening up spaces.
In my local council alone there is around 220km of verges. Right now there is a mix of street trees and under them dolomite and gravel. The gravel gets sprayed 2-3 times a year with glyphosate which is a known carcinogen. This results in bare ground that heats up in summer and is dusty. Ideally, money spent each year on poison and contractors could get diverted into planting out the verges. Local native ground covers as a bare minimum would make more sense that the current default option. On the other end of the spectrum is Buderim’s Urban Food Street which is 11 streets that grow edible food on their verges.
Other than planting a fruit tree on the verge, street trees can have edible fruit grafted onto them. This is the time of year to get grafting. All you need is some grafting tape, secateurs, grafting knife, and scions. You can use what you have handy for grafting tape if you don’t have it – eg electrical tape or plumbing tape. Any small very sharp knife can be used. Scions are just a piece of the edible tree you are going to attach to the root stock.
Select a tree close to home or a place you frequently visit that you’re prepared to look after. Pick a branch that hangs over the verge so the fruit doesn’t fall on the road or the foot path. The main principle is most fruit trees are compatible with root stock from within their genus. That means plum onto plum, cherry onto cherry and pear onto pear. Other stone fruits – eg apricots, nectarines and peaches can be grafted onto ornamental plum. Time to get grafting!