Tuscan cooking was the essence of simplicity long before minimalism became a fashion. Golden roast chicken and a nutty, creamy split pea purée are linked with a ribbon of Tuscan olive oil. Resist the impulse to add any garnish, any sauce, or any sundried tomato, and leave the lily ungilded.
Wash and dry chicken pieces and arrange in a large bowl. Add olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, sage, salt and pepper and toss with your hands until well coated. Leave to marinate for an hour or two.
Rinse split peas under cold running water. Place in a pot with water and bring to the boil. Skim off any froth, then reduce heat and add olive oil, onion and salt. Cover and simmer for 1½ to 2 hours, without stirring, until the peas form a thick purée. Beat peas with a wooden spoon to amalgamate into a paste. Add salt and pepper to taste, and keep warm.
Heat oven to 200°C (400°F). Pour any remaining marinade into a heavy-bottomed frypan and fry the chicken in 2 batches until golden. Arrange chicken in a baking pan. Place pan in oven and roast for around 15 minutes until skin is golden brown and meat is tender and cooked through.
Serve on a bed of split pea purée with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
© 1998 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.