There are very few things more wonderful than a long walk with dear friends who you’ve lived with, laughed and cried with ever since the tender and silly age of 18. I was lucky to take one of these walks with my five wonderful former housemates from university this weekend, down lanes and over headlands towards the sea in Cornwall.
Down one of these lanes, I stopped and announced that we were surrounded by wild garlic. They didn’t believe me until I picked a fistful of leaves and crushed them before thrusting the bunch under each of their noses. And then they grew rather excited.
After a hearty walk around Watergate Bay, where we were chucked around by the wind, we trundled our way home, stopping to pick still more leaves for our Sunday lunch.
Have you ever roasted a chicken with wild garlic? Here’s how – and why – you should.
Pick five or six large wild garlic leaves from any plants growing nearby. Try to pick them from separate plants to give the bulb the best chance to recover, and if you’re unsure as to whether they are wild garlic, give them a good crush in the palms of your hands to release that wonderful rich, sweet smell.
Prepare your roast chicken – we stuffed ours with onions and winter vegetables, rubbed wholegrain mustard over the skin and slotted in slabs of butter. Then place the garlic leaves over the body in rows.
Then wrap your chicken in bacon, and pop in the oven at 190C for 30 minutes per kg of chicken plus 20 minutes extra. Prepare your wonderful side servings as required in the meantime.
When your chicken is ready to eat, you’ll find a juicy, succulent bird with a wonderfully fragrant skin and flesh, thanks to those garlic leaves you stretched over its back. The flavour isn’t so strong that you immediately think of garlic; rather it warms the meat and gives it a perky push up. It is a perfect early spring dish.
If you find you love wild garlic as much as I do, then have a look at these lovely recipes involving this fab free spring herb.