My university pals came to stay. We did that thing everyone does at Christmas with their family, where we all revert to our childhood script. Except we reverted to our young adult script.
I was always a young fogey, hating clubs and absinthe. So just like back in 1999, I sent organisational emails, picked people up from the railway station, called cabs and booked tables. I also cooked the food. I spent much of my free student time moaning that I was REALLY BUSY whilst avoiding bending the spine of the one book I had to read per week (yes, I studied English) by cooking big roast chicken dinners with all the trimmings. (Three types of potatoes anyone? Essential in my book).
I’d like to say much has changed, but last weekend I spent a lot of time saying how busy I was with work (whilst avoiding it) and cooking up huge vats of this chicken, potato and aubergine curry. So really, I’m still moaning and still chicken obsessed.
Now, onto the serious bit. And if you like chicken you need to listen up.
Did you know it’s Food Safety Week? Campylobacter is the most prevalent form of food poisoning in the UK – it causes more illness than salmonella, listeria and e.coli put together and it’s carried by raw poultry. You can read a bit more about it here.
The FSA, quite understandably, wants to halve campylobacter by the end of 2015. You can do your bit by following the 4 main ‘chicken rules’:
- Bag it separately from other food, and store it separately, covered, chilled and at the bottom of the fridge.
- Wash everything that’s come in contact with raw chicken properly in soap and hot water, from your hands to chopping boards and any utensils.
- Don’t wash raw chicken, you can splash germs up to a metre either side of the sink.
- Check it’s cooked properly, with no pink meat and until it’s tender and steaming hot all the way through, and the juices run clear.
You can show your support by joining our campaign, posting your #ChickenChallenge photos and videos and nominating a friend to do the same. There’s also a competition to enter. Here are the details:
- The Food Standards Agency is looking for the country’s biggest chicken fan. Just create an image, video, song, joke – anything you like, to show the world why you love chicken – and post it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the #ChickensGotTalent hashtag.
- The very best entry will win a five day culinary skills course at Leiths School of Food and Wine (travel and accommodation included too – this is a seriously good prize, and having been to Leiths I can vouch for their fabulous kitchens, great lunches and friendly knowledgable teachers).
- Visit food.gov.uk/chickenchallenge to find out more and view the competition T&Cs.
Now, onto the recipe…
Four years ago: Banana and custard melts.
Chicken, potato & aubergine curry
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 4 chicken quarters, skin on, bone in
- 400g new potatoes, halved
- 650g aubergine, stalks removed and diced into 3cm (ish) chunks (about 2 aubergine’s worth)
- 3 small onions, peeled and halved
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 40g fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin slices
- 2 chillies, stalks removed
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 50g coconut cream, grated
- 18g coriander, chopped
Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3 and find a large casserole dish with a lid. (You could use foil if you don’t have a lidded dish, but it must be tightly fitted).
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and place the chicken, skin side down. Fry until crisp and brown, this should take about 6 – 10 minutes depending on the ferocity of your hob.
In the meantime place the raw potato and aubergine pieces into the casserole dish. Blitz the onion, garlic, ginger and chillies in a food processor with 3 tbsp cold water until very finely chopped. Once the chicken is crisp and brown use tongs to place it on top of the potatoes and aubergines.
Fry the cumin, garam masala and turmeric in the olive oil and chicken fat for 1 minute then add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli mixture. Stir well and fry for 5 minutes before adding the tinned chopped tomatoes. Fill the empty can up with cold water and add that to the pan. Lastly, add the coconut cream, stir and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
Pour the curry sauce into the casserole dish, pop the lid on (or foil fitted tightly if you don’t have one) and bake in the oven for 1 hour 15 miutes before turning the temperature up to 200°C, removing the lid and baking for another 45 minutes to thicken the sauce. Serve with basmati rice and sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander.
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