Chicken meat is a lean, versatile and affordable means of getting protein. And yet not all chicken is equal. In Malta, St. Mary Farm has been operational for 23 years and Karl took over in 2011, soon after he obtained a Diploma from MCAST. Karl is the youngest member of the Merill Rural Network and he proudly describes the conditions under which the broilers – chickens of a special breed kept purposely for meat consumptions – are kept.
Their sanitation and health is taken seriously. For example, their feed is studied well so that it fulfills all their nutritional needs; the temperature of the pens is controlled to keep them at their healthiest and happiest. There are less chickens per squared meter when compared to other EU countries because their rearing is less intense. In Malta, all barns are regularly tested for Salmonella and very strict sanitation rules are followed.
This means that you can feel safe buying local chicken for your family’s consumption. By doing that you would be supporting a local farmer and decreasing the carbon footprint of your meals.
- Heat your fan-assisted oven to 200 degrees Celsius and cook the chicken thighs for 12 minutes on each side.
- With a brush, spread the tomato jam on both sides and return to the oven to cook for a further 5 minutes on each side. Remember that the appearance of the chicken flesh is not always enough to judge whether it has cooked through and is safe to eat.
- Use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature has reached 73 degrees Celsius (165 Fahrenheit) and make sure that any juices that come out of the chicken run clear. The tomato jam will form a coating on the meat that will give it an interesting tangy and sweet flavor with an attractive appearance. Just a simple addition to your usual roast chicken will make a big difference to the result you present to the table.
- Sweet potato chips: Peel a sweet potato and cut it into strips. Drizzle some olive oil and sea salt on top and roast in the oven whilst the chicken is cooking (in a different dish). Toss every few minutes to make sure all your chips cook evenly and remove them from the oven when they are cooked through and start to brown at the edges. Depending on the size of your chips, they should take between 20-30 minutes to cook at 200 degrees Celsius.
- Simple side salad: Use vegetables that are eaten raw such as tomatoes, cucumber and bells peppers. Chop into bite size pieces and drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. You may also crumble a fresh, local cheeselet (Ġbejna) on top.
Merill products used: tomato jam, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and a ġbejna.