‘Edible flowers?’ I hear you yell. ‘EDIBLE. FLOWERS. WTF!’ Well, that was my reaction, anyway, when I saw them being sold for £1 at my local farmers’ market.
But they’re al the rage, apparently.The New Big Thing In Cooking.
I had my doubts, but thought I’d invite a couple of Guinea Pigs to dinner to test them out on.
This is the resulting dish – packed with fragrant perfume, herby aromas and lemon zing, with soft-melting chicken meat because of the Sous Vide treatment, crispy skin after the pan-friend finish and cheesy creaminess from the pasta accompaniment.
But most of all, it looks pretty!
For the chicken
4 boneless organic chicken breasts, skin on
Bunch of basil leaves
Zest of 2 lemons, peeled with a potato peeler
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
For the pasta and sauce
4 handfuls dried fusili pasta, cooked according to packet instructions until al dente, approx. 8-10 mins
400ml double cream
100g Parmesan, grated
Juice of 2 lemons
1 small dried red chilli
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
1 glass Vermentino white wine
Salt and black pepper, to season
1 packet fresh edible flowers
I’m not a gardener, so I have no idea what types of flowers they were, or even where to buy them, but probably best not to pick them yourself!
1. Pre-heat a Sous Vide water bath to 69C. Put 2 chicken breasts each into separate Sous Vide vac-packs with the basil, lemon peel, garlic and pepper. Vacuum seal and place in the water bath. Cook for 1-2 hours.
2. Meanwhile, make the pasta sauce by adding all the sauce ingredients except the basil to a small saucepan and gently bring to the boil and cook for approx. 5 mins until the cheese has melted and the alcohol has cooked off. Add the chopped basil leaves and stir through.
3. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook the pasta.
4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Remove the chicken from the Sous Vide, shake off the marinade and pat dry. Transfer to the frying pan, skin-side down, and cook for 2-3 mins until the skin becomes crispy.
5. Remove the chicken and rest, then carve into thick slices. Stir the pasta into the sauce.
6. Serve decorated with the flowers.
And the verdict?
To be honest, the flowers didn’t add a lot in terms of taste – individually they had different flavours, ranging from oniony, to peppery, to perfumed – but they made what could have been a standard midweek supper into a Dinner Party Event.