Chefs' Recipes

Bianca Johnston’s crispy chicken and rice

A deeply flavoured dish that maxes out the flavour of chicken wings, with greens and lemon for freshness.
James Moffatt
2H 20M
2H 40M

Community is at the heart of Bianca Johnston’s cooking, as is practising clever waste-minimisation techniques. “I always want to cook honest food with peak-season ingredients,” she says. Cooking wasn’t initially on Johnston’s radar, but an appearance on My Kitchen Rules as a teenager sparked a new-found appreciation for food. “Cooking didn’t come super naturally to me. I guess that’s why it took me a long time to blossom,” says the 2019 Appetite for Excellence Young Chef winner, “but hard work gets you there.”

The 27-year-old first developed that work ethic as an apprentice at the now-shuttered Smolt Kitchen in Hobart, before she hit the stoves at Tom McHugo’s, a revitalised gastro pub in Hobart’s city centre. It’s there that she has really honed the idea of what kind of cook she wants to be. Now, she’s head chef at Igni, the acclaimed Victorian fine diner.

She says the crispy chicken rice is on heavy rotation at staff meals. “This recipe is about making the most of what you have. It came out of the need to use meat off the carcasses in a stock, but can also be made by poaching chicken wings.”



1.Preheat oven to 200°C. Place chicken wings in a single layer in a flameproof ovenproof dish. Roast until golden (45 minutes).
2.Transfer wings to a large stockpot and deglaze reserved oven dish over medium heat with enough water to cover base. Continue cooking, scraping and stirring to release any bits stuck to the base (3-4 minutes). Transfer mixture to stockpot. Add 4 litres cold water with coriander and reserved onion trimmings. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer until wings are soft, but not completely falling apart and stock is well flavoured (1 hour).
3.Strain stock over a large bowl, then transfer to a jug and place in the freezer until fat solidifies.
4.Meanwhile, when wings are cool enough to handle, remove meat (discarding bones). You should have 600-700gm meat.
5.Remove solidified fat from stock and reserve. Heat 500ml stock in a saucepan over medium heat and add rice (reserve remaining stock for another use, see note). Season with 1 tsp salt flakes. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low, cover with a lid and cook until liquid is absorbed (12-14 minutes). Set aside, covered, until needed.
6.Heat reserved chicken fat (add a little oil, if necessary) in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat and cook chicken meat, stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden (15 minutes). Add coconut and cook, stirring, until golden, adding a ladle of extra stock if over-browning (1 minute). Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant (3 minutes).
7.Add onion, coriander, mustard greens and wombok, and cook until lightly wilted but still retaining some texture (1 minute). Season with fish sauce and 1 tsp salt flakes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Serve with rice, topped with chilli oil, toasted coconut and extra coriander.

Leftover chicken stock can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.


Related stories