There’s nothing to be scared of with these easy recipes.

Here's a fun fact: I am terrified of chickens. A very real terror sets in when I get close to those beady little eyes. So maybe a slight phobia. Anyway, always up for a challeange, and always one for facing my fears, I put my panic aside when I was invited to visit Bostock's Organic Chicken farm in Hawke's Bay.

Ben Bostock was working in the meat trade, and saw how disconnected the farmers were to the end product on the plate. His farm-to-plate philosophy led him to start the business with his brother, George.

Everything they do, from farming to feed to processing, is done with an environmental and welfare consideration. They grow and mill their own organic maize for feed, and the chickens happily roam under organic apple trees, in and out of their chalets, imported from France. I'd never been to a chicken farm before but I didn't need to worry. I managed to hold a 2-day-old chick, and from the bigger ones I just kept my distance. When I got in the kitchen to play around with some recipes, I was genuinely surprised at the difference in flavour.

Here are three easy meals, including using livers. Thanks to Bostock's for showing me around and helping me face my fears.

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Chicken with tomato and olives

400g organic free range chicken thighs
2 Tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 x 330g can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp chilli flakes
½ lemon, thinly sliced
½ cup mixed olives
2 garlic cloves, crushed

Preheat oven to 200C.

Place the chicken thighs in a roasting dish. Drizzle over the olive oil and season well.

Cook the chicken for about 10 minutes until they start to go golden.

Remove from oven, and add the tomatoes, chilli, lemon, olives, and garlic. Stir gently then return to the oven.

Cook for about 20-25 minutes, until sauce has thickened and chicken is cooked through.

Serve with your favourite vegetables, and potatoes or couscous.

Creamy mushrooms and chicken livers

Creamy mushroom with chicken livers. Photo / Dean Purcell
Creamy mushroom with chicken livers. Photo / Dean Purcell

Serves two as a main or 4 as an entree

400g free-range organic chicken livers
400g mushrooms
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 Tbsp vinegar - either red wine, white wine, or balsamic
¼ cup cream
1 large handful baby spinach
Flat leaf parsley, to garnish

Rinse the livers and trim off any white or sinew. Pat dry.

In a frying pan, heat the butter and oil to a medium-high heat. Add the livers and allow to brown and caramelise on the outside, for a couple of minutes.

Remove the livers and set aside. Add a drizzle more oil to the pan, and add the mushrooms. Cook a couple of minutes, then add the vinegar and the cream. Increase the heat slightly, and return the browned livers to the pan. Season well with salt and pepper. Allow the sauce to reduce and thicken, and add the spinach. Cook a couple more minutes until the spinach is mostly wilted. Serve immediately. Can be served with extra greens as a warm salad, or with toast and a poached egg for brunch.

Sticky orange drumsticks

Sticky orange sesame drumsticks. Photo / Dean Purcell
Sticky orange sesame drumsticks. Photo / Dean Purcell

Adapted from the food journal Lucky Peach.

Juice of 2 oranges
1 Tbsp orange zest
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 x 2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chilli flakes
½ cup water
1kg free-range organic chicken drumsticks
1 generous pinch flaky sea salt
2 Tbsp neutral cooking oil
1 tsp cornflour
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, to garnish
Rice and steamed greens, to serve

To make the marinade, whisk together in a large bowl the orange juice (leave 2 Tbsp aside for later), zest, soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and chilli flakes. Whisk until the brown sugar dissolves, and set aside.

Sprinkle the flaky sea salt over the chicken. Heat a large frying pan with the neutral cooking oil to a medium-high heat, and brown the chicken for about 4-5 minutes (you may need to do this in two batches).

Get all the chicken in the pan, and add half the marinade. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce to a medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes. Turn the drumsticks over about halfway through.

Mix the remaining 2 Tbsp orange juice with the cornflour, add to the remaining marinade, then add to the chicken. Coat the chicken with the sauce and cook until the sauce thickens, about another 7-8 minutes (can leave here for a few minutes on a low heat until ready to serve).

To serve, sprinkle over sesame seeds.