Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Smoke Box Chicken - Railway Recipes

I caught the up train from Campbell’s to Blaenau Ffestiniog to buy some provisions and the Saturday papers. When I got back from the shops the engine had been filled with water and the crew were tucking in to a roast dinner, eaten al fresco on the tender. When I asked what was on the menu, their reply was ‘Smoke Box Chicken’.

A Feast of Smoke Box Chicken
In these days of high energy costs it’s good to see the drivers of the Ffestiniog Railway making full use of their fuel. Burning coal creates the steam that drives the pistons and the surplus heat goes out through the chimney at the front of the engine. On its way, it passes through the smoke box.

I tasted a piece of the chicken pulled from the carcass, just right, tender and moist. 13 ½ miles uphill in the smoke box was clearly the optimum oven setting.

Naϊvely I asked whether the flavour was enhanced by the contents of the smoke box? ‘Not likely. There’s all sorts of noxious fumes in there. That’s why it’s triple-wrapped in foil’ said the cloth-capped driver. It turns out he’s a bit of a gourmet. One of his favourites is ‘a half leg of lamb, slivers of garlic, rosemary, potatoes and parsnips – give it about an hour of gentle shunting around the yard and then the journey up to Blaenau, and it’s really tasty…’.

He must be the Fat Controller’s favourite driver. Next time a steam train passes by, sniff the aroma and see if you can guess what’s on the menu.

Alternatively, call in to the newly refurbished Spooner’s Café at the station in Porthmadog. It's looking very smart.

No comments:

Post a Comment