At his restaurant Bar Magda just off Karangahape Road in Tāmaki Makaurau, Carlo Buenaventura serves Filipino-style dishes, tweaked for a modern menu in a space that is moody but welcoming. You probably won’t find chicken relleno there – it's a home-style dish based on his grandmother’s recipe, which he uses when hosting a family dinner.
This recipe was adapted by Magda’s Frank Tejada for a recent special dinner at the restaurant. If you’re up for it, says Buenaventura, there are plenty of online tutorials for deboning a chicken – and you can use the bones to make a quick gravy or stock. Otherwise, just ask your friendly local butcher: he recommends Grey Lynn Butchers in Tāmaki Makaurau. “Eddie would do it,” he says. “Just mention it’s for a stuffed roast chicken.”
Making the brine
1 whole free-range size 16 chicken, deboned
½ cup salt
¼ cup brown sugar
1⁄8 cup soy sauce
1⁄8 cup fish sauce
3 Tbsp sautéed shrimp paste (bagoong guisado)
1 brown onion, peeled and quartered
10 cloves garlic, crushed
1 knob ginger, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
1. Place all ingredients apart from the chicken in a large pot. Bring to a boil. When the brine starts to boil, bring it to a simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Take it off the heat and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, strain the brine and transfer into a large zip-lock bag or container with an air-tight lid. Add the chicken, seal and place in the fridge for 12-24 hours.
3. Remove chicken from brine, pat dry and transfer to a tray. Return it to the fridge while you make the stuffing.
Making the pork stuffing
Makes a great filling for dumplings or spring rolls.
Oil for cooking
1 red onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 knob ginger, finely chopped
½ red capsicum, small diced
½ carrot, small diced
¼ cup dates, chopped
¼ cup cornichons, sliced into thin rounds
1kg pork mince, 30-40% fat
250g chicken or duck livers, chopped or blended into a paste
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp annatto or achuete powder or paste
Salt to taste
1. Heat a medium frying pan to high. Turn down to medium, add the oil and sauté ginger and garlic, then add the onions. When onions are translucent, add the carrots and capsicum. Once the carrots are cooked but firm to the bite, take the pan off the heat and leave to cool.
2. In a large bowl, crack the egg and combine all ingredients, including the vegetables. Test fry a small amount to check the seasoning. It should be a little bit salty. Steamed food tastes less salty than fried food, even if the seasoning is the same, and the stuffing will be steamed inside the chicken. Set aside and prepare the chicken.
Making Frank’s Chicken Relleno
2 soft-boiled eggs, peeled
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C fan bake. Line a tray with baking paper.
2. Stuff the chicken with the pork mixture, then add the soft-boiled eggs.
3. Roast chicken for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the internal temperature of the stuffing reaches 80°C. If the chicken browns too quickly or the stuffing has come to temperature early, turn the oven down to 180°C for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.
4. Take the chicken out of the oven and rest it for 10-15 minutes before carving.