Summer food: Michael Van de Elzen

By Catherine Smith

A time for fast and light eating.

Roast Salsa chicken from The Food Truck Cookbook by Michael Van de Elzen, published by Random House. Photo / Supplied
Roast Salsa chicken from The Food Truck Cookbook by Michael Van de Elzen, published by Random House. Photo / Supplied

In his television series The Food Truck, Michael Van de Elzen showed us how to transform fast food into healthy, tasty make-at-home dishes.

To me, summer holiday food means ...

It would have to be fast, it would have to be light. There's nothing I like better than my Weber [kettle] barbecue - it's almost falling apart because I use it all the time.

I'm a buffet/banquet guy, I like to put all the food out on the table so that you are grazing, not restricted by time.

People can linger, it's a drawn-out meal. My favourite way to do chicken thighs is on the Weber - the fat renders off, drops into the coals and comes back into the chicken as smoky flavour.

All they need is some Dijon mustard, olive oil, served with a mushroom risotto and rocket salad. You don't have to think about the time.

Next year I'll be ...?

Finishing the filming for another series of The Food Truck.

It's bigger, better, longer and more exciting - I'm doing some crazy things, we're two months into it.

And I'm opening another new venture in autumn next year, based on the idea of a truck, in Auckland city.

My New Year's resolution is ...?

With so much going on in my life, my resolution is to keep calm.

I try to stay fit and healthy, so to keep calm and try to be a better father to my new baby Ivy (three weeks) and Hazel, who is 2 in January.

I want to get to know my new daughter, it's been so busy.

You don't have to save stuffing for the full Sunday roast occasions.

Why not make it for just one or two people and serve with roast chicken legs rather than a whole chook?

The smoked essence is not essential but it does add another layer to the flavour. You can buy it at most specialty food stores.

Roast stuffed chicken leg with tomato tarragon salsa

Stuffed chicken legs

6 skinless, boneless chicken legs
4 slices Vogel's bread, made into breadcrumbs
onion, diced
3 cloves roasted garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon smoke essence
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
tablespoon each chopped fresh rosemary and thyme
zest of lemon
1 teaspoon oil
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh sage
tablespoon each chopped, fresh rosemary and thyme
pinch salt and white pepper

Tomato tarragon salsa

3 large tomatoes, deseeded and diced
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh tarragon
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
4 tablespoons olive oil
Mix ingredients together and salt and white pepper to taste

For the chicken

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Butterfly thigh meat by cutting each leg in half and opening it out.
3. Mix together breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, smoke essence, egg whites and first measures of sage, rosemary and thyme.
4. In a separate bowl mix lemon zest and oil with second measures of herbs. Lightly season with salt and white pepper.
5. Place 2 tablespoons of breadcrumb stuffing in the middle of each butterflied chicken thigh. Fold thigh meat over stuffing.
6. Rub lemon zest and herb mixture over the outside of each chicken leg and secure with butcher's netting.
7. Heat an ovenproof frying pan to low and lightly brown chicken legs.8. Place in preheated oven for 15 minutes, making sure the juices run clear before removing from oven. Remove netting to serve.

- NZ Herald

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