Though it only opened in its current iteration in 2016, the Unicorn Hotel in Paddington feels like a relic – in a good way. Its wood-panelled walls are decorated with illustrations and paintings of Australiana, and its star menu items are plate-sized chicken schnitties and parmas.
The pub – which is owned by the Mary’s crew, Young Henrys’s Oscar McMahon, and Porteño’s Elvis Abrahanowicz and Joe Valore – also serves nostalgia-inducing fare such as Vili’s pies, Jatz crackers with French onion dip and buttered white bread. Jake Smyth (also of Mary’s, Mary’s Pizzeria and the soon-to-be-opened Mary’s Underground) told Broadsheet that it’s “simple pub food, but we're just going to take some extra care”.
Their barbeque chicken stays true to that ethos, and fittingly for a venue co-owned by a brewer, makes good use of cider and the tin it comes in. The recipe has been masterminded by Jimmy Garside (the Mary’s group’s executive chef), and sticks to the same philosophy that has won the group success: making “trash” food, but doing it with love and top-notch ingredients.
Fire up your barbie about an hour before starting this one.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
200ml olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ bunch thyme
1 Bannockburn chicken
3 fresh bay leaves
1 can Young Henrys cider, opened
½ brown onion, finely diced
3 sticks celery, finely diced
1 ear of corn, kernels removed
1 tbsp fresh or fermented green chilli, finely diced
150g sour cream
Mix 150ml of olive oil with 2 cloves of garlic, ⅔ of the thyme (leaves only), salt and black pepper.
Rub the mixture inside the chicken, then rub over the skin, making sure it’s covered evenly, then season with more salt.
Put the bay leaves inside.
Insert the cider can into the cavity of the chook, then place it standing on the barbeque with the rest of the thyme inserted into the top of the chicken. Close the barbeque cover and cook for around 45 minutes. If you don’t have a barbeque, roast at 200°C for 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the onion, celery and garlic in the remaining olive oil on a low heat to soften, then add the corn, which can be taken off the cob by running a sharp knife down the side.
Slide the chicken off the can and rest in a warm place for at least 15 minutes.
Add the leftover cider to the corn mixture along with the chilli and sour cream. Gently stir through. Divide the mixture between four plates, carve the chicken and add a quarter to each plate. Serve immediately.