Most people garner a glut of zucchinis or tomatoes or bananas during summer; some even get generous Christmas gifts of colourful jams in strawberry, apricot and peach flavours. Last summer there were lots of those around here but there was something a little different, too: jars and jars (literally!) of brandied cumquats, made by various precious people in the winter past. Despite loving brandy and cumquats (the resolutely barren tree in my childhood backyard made me strangely sentimental about them) I didn’t know what to do with them. They’re not sweet enough for desert, nor are they really savoury; so they ogled me and bobbed lazily in their amber syrup all year long.
The idea to serve them with a roast chicken came from Damien Pignolet’s inimitable and much-practised example in French. The accompanying photograph by Earl Carter is astoundingly beautiful and equally inspiring- it’s a page often left open in my kitchen. My take involved crispy chicken with plenty of brandy, butter and sage leaves pressed beneath the skin. Adding carrots to the rustic ‘marmalade’ balanced the zingy citrus nicely and serving steamed kale on the side was a deliciously healthy concession to all that indulgence.