Some great tips on how to carve your chicken like a pro.
Some great tips on how to carve your chicken like a pro.
This is not a recreation of a chicken dish one might buy from the takeaway. This is in fact chicken that is made using leftover takeaway. Blergh I hear you sound. Not bleurgh. And not a health hazard. All will become clear.
I have an aversion to throwing ANYTHING away. I mean anything. Things I do to avoid waste:
Anyway, make this when you have zero time and want masses of taste. It’s zingy and fiery and could possibly ward off colds.
Preheat the oven to Gas 5/190C and take a lidded casserole dish big enough to easily fit your chicken into. Pop the onions onto the bottom of the casserole dish and place the chicken breast side down on the top. They act as a kind of rack for at least some of the cooking. Then mix the other ingredients (except the rice) together in a bowl and pour over the chicken. You could massage with your hands but I decided against this move for fear of chilli hands. Put the lid on the casserole dish and place in the oven for about 90 minutes. Give the chicken a prod and a stir every 30 minutes to make sure the mango marinade works its magic.
Once the juices are running clear turn the heat down to keep warm level and then put the basmati rice on to boil. Once it’s done, drain and put back into the saucepan. Then add a load of the oniony-mangoey-chilli mixture from the casserole dish, put a tea towel over the saucepan, then the lid and leave for 7 minutes. Take the lid off, fork through the rice gently and serve with the chicken. If you have fresh coriander then chop and scatter to add some healthy green colour.
Mr B battles through the snow every evening (and any other weather condition thrown at us throughout the year) to make sure he’s home for doing bath time. Given that by 6pm I need either a stiff G & T or a hour without children, this makes him my hero. And on an especially cold evening like last night he deserved something warming and spicy and sweet.
This is my completely inauthentic version of a chicken tagine and Mr B said it was rather good. Serves 2 – 3 dependant on hunger. In fact could serve 4 normal people.
Preheat the oven to Gas 6 (200C/400F) and put the chicken thighs onto a metal tray skin side up in the top of the oven. In the meantime make the sauce.
Fry the onion on a medium heat in the oil, mixed spice, ginger and cinnamon stick for about 5 mins. Add the tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, apricots with 1tbsp of juice, carrots, olives and sugar and continue to cook on a medium heat for about 20 mins. The mixture should reduce a little but not too much. If it looks like it’s reducing too much turn it down and add a little water.
Remove the chicken thighs from the oven (they should be browned and sizzling with lots of juice swimming about in the tin.) Now, if you’re a healthy type you can discard the chicken juices, but we are not, so I added it to the sauce on the hob. Next put the thighs into a large casserole dish with a lid, pour the sauce over the top and then top up with boiling water until the ‘tagine’ is covered. Pop back in the oven on a high shelf and turn the heat down to Gas 4 (180C/350F.) Leave for about an hour or so.
I made my ahem, Ainsley Harriott cous cous with the ‘tagine’ sauce and then added some flaked almonds to disguise this fact. Pour the chicken stew over the cous cous and serve with a glass of something equally warming but alcoholic.
I love using up leftovers. I think it’s the culinary equivalent of having a disco nap in the afternoon before you go out, waking up and feeling like it’s morning again. 2 days for the price of 1. Or rather in this instance, 2 meals for the price of 1.
Anyway, for me the important thing about leftovers is that they should never feel like a not-quite-as-good-meal as the original they came from. In fact, I’d go as far as to say they should usurp the original meal in a needy, ‘love me’ fashion.
These little pot pies were conjured up from leftover roast chicken. I bloody love roast chicken and find it hard to improve upon, however adding a sausage hit to pretty much anything can only make it better in my humble opinion.
Preheat the oven to Gas 5 and pop a baking tray onto the top shelf. Heat the teaspoon of butter in a frying pan and add the onion. Fry gently until soft, then add the sausages and continue to fry until browned. Just before you take them off the hob turn up the heat and add the mushrooms giving the whole mixture a quick flash of intense heat. Set aside.
Whilst the sausages and onions were gently frying you can make the mustardy sauce. Melt the 25g butter in a small saucepan, add the the flour and whisk on a medium heat until it looks yellow and thick. Then add the milk, a little at a time, stirring furiously to avoid lumps. Keep the temperature medium to high. Add milk until the mixture looks like thick gravy, then add the wholegrain mustard and a bit of salt and pepper if you like.
Add the sausage mixture and chicken to the sauce, then divide between two pie dishes. Next top your pies! I used some leftover mashed potato and swede for one (Mr Bs) and some frozen wholemeal breadcrumbs for the other (mine, in an altruistic fashion.)
Pop onto the baking tray (to avoid spillages in the oven and also to conduct heat a little better to the bottom of the pies) and leave in the oven for around 25 mins until the tops are browning and the sauce is peeping out over the topping and bubbling up. Serve with peas or green beans or something else that offsets the sausagey pie naughtiness.
I really loved my pie. Mr B may not have been as keen. He commented that he’d never had sausage in a pie before. I commented that he’d never lived. Next time he’s getting chicken and mushroom and I’ll have sausage and sausage. A girl can never have too much sausage.
So, the kitchen is still unfinished and I am still pregnant with not very long to go at all. Two things that make for grumpiness and general disatisfaction at Bell Towers. We have quite literally survived on takeaways and the kindness of family and friends for nearly a month. I know, I know… I could have rustled up nutritious salads and utlilised the microwave to steam veggies and rice. Put simply, I couldn’t be arsed. I’m too big and fat and full of aches and pains and moans. I’m so moany I’m bored even of hearing myself moan. Anyway, I digress (into a mirage of moaning.)
To set the scene, rather than crave nutritious food stuffs when preggers I tend to crave McDonalds burgers, McDonalds sausage and egg McMuffins, takeaway Chinese, takeaway Indian and of course non alcoholic shandy. And then one evening recently I started to crave fried chicken. Even I couldn’t do KFC. It’s just not right. As anyone who’s ever read a red top knows, they fry beaks and heads and all sorts. (McDonalds would never do such a thing of course…) Luckily the kitchen is back to a semi working condition so an experiment was called for.
Having run out of frozen home made breadcrumbs I decided to experiment with ground almonds and the result was frankly, really rather nice. The almond crumb is dry and crispy but manages to completely encase the chicken so that it almost steams in the almondy jacket leaving it tender and moist and lovely. We ate it with cous cous but it would be equally good with chips and some tomato sauce. Or spicy rice. Charlie liked the chicken dipped in strawberry flavoured yoghurt but then he’s gone a bit Heston on us recently. He did offer me a try but I declined.
Preheat the oven to Gas 7 and find a baking tray. Pop it on the top shelf of the oven to heat.
Same rules as per any battering of fish, chicken etc – get a production line going. You need three small plates. One with the flour on, one with the beaten egg and one with the ground almonds. Be prepared for your hands to end up in a sticky mess.
Take a strip of chicken and dip in the flour first, then the egg, then the almonds. Make sure the strip is completely covered in almond – no little naked areas anywhere. Then pop on a large clean plate. Continue until all the chicken is gone. Then take the preheated tray from the oven and place the strips on it ensuring they don’t touch. Pop back in the oven on the top shelf and wait for about 10 mins. The strips are cooked when the almonds start to go a little brown in parts and when prodded they feel firm, rather than rubbery like raw chicken.
If serving to toddlers/babies let them cool first. They seem to hold their heat more than regular breaded chicken you see. Mr B and I felt that there’s scope for the flour to be played about with. Perhaps with a little ground chilli or smoked paprika or some tarragon. Depending on how Eastern your accompaniment is of course. Would be yum with home made ketchup too. Or good old Heinz failing that.
I recently spent the day with some of my lovely friends who I don’t often see these days. I dusted off my old Oyster card (and was relieved that it still works after 3 years in retirement,) I reserved my train seat as last time I had to stand for an hour and I arranged for Charlie to spend the day with my Mum, AKA Nan-neeee. This is no hardship for him as 1) he adores her and 2) her house is a kind of toddlers version of Alton Towers, though without the need to queue.
Spending the day without Charlie is a curious thing. I enjoyed choosing food because I wanted it, rather than because he might like it. I enjoyed having a conversation uninterrupted, without being presented with a small car or a book to read. I enjoyed going to the loo without an audience pointing and shouting ‘what’s that?’ Most of all though I felt like I’d lost a limb. I missed his sticky little hands gripping mine, his habit of humming nursery rhymes as he eats. I even missed his tantrum-face and vigorous head shaking every time I ask him if he’d like to help Mummy with something. Is it like this forever I wonder. Will I sit at home draining glasses of gin when he’s 25, feeling like I’ve lost an appendage and boring people with tales of what a beautiful baby he was?
Carrying on with the grown up theme, here’s a recipe with a hot chilli chicken kick perfect for the Sunday blues. Be more careful than I was when you handle the scotch bonnet chilli. The stuff is lethal. One brush on my index finger and it tingled for hours. I think sensible people advise wearing washing up gloves.
Put on some gloves! Cut the tops off the chillis and throw away, then throw everything except the chicken into a food processor and whizz for 2 mins until finely chopped and mixed together. Cover the chicken with the marinade, remembering only to use a spoon rather than your hands to mix it and then refrigerate for 4 hours or preferably overnight.
Depending on the weather, cook for either 20 mins each side on the barbecue or 40 mins at Gas 5 on a baking tray. Crisp the chicken skin if you used the oven, by finishing under the grill for 5 minutes. Serve with something mellow like a simple green salad or some steamed basmati rice.
NB: The chilli mellows with time and cooking so that your mouth doesn’t explode or tingle or do anything else unpleasant.
I’ve been a stay at home mum for less than 2 weeks and already I’ve managed to introduce my own special stress and anxiety into the average mummy’s day. The issue is the park, or rather, park etiquette.
Having been raised by two police officers I probably have a slightly more acute sense of justice than your average person. Couple this with what can only be described as a bit of a temper, and a simple trip to the park results in extra cortisol coursing through my veins.
You see, the other mums, on the whole, don’t seem to be watching what their kids are doing. They sit and have a chat but don’t monitor the turn taking on the ever popular swings. One mother let her small daughter sit in one swing for 20 minutes, (without actually pushing her – the poor thing dangled inert, smiling inanely) whilst my son, being terribly British, sat on the floor and waited his turn. I started to mutter under my breath in anger. It seems so unfair that other kids are deprived of their turn just because some mums are oblivious, lazy parents. Charlie took the opportunity to have a Richter scale 10 tantrum which I thoroughly endorsed.
Now I know I should stop sweating the small stuff, and probably need to get out more (without a toddler in tow) but fortunately or unfortunately this is my reality. So Charlie and I now attend the park either at 9am when said annoying parents are probably still in their dressing gowns ignoring their children, or as we did yesterday, in the rain. We were drenched but happy.
On less wet days, this recipe works well on the BBQ and it’s easy to boot.
Right, first thing to mention here is that the thighs need ages to marinate so make sure you buy a pack with a few days left on their use by date and get them marinating asap.
Mix the garlic, oil and tarragon together, then cut all the lemons in half and squeeze. Don’t throw the lemon skins away, instead add them, along with the lemon juice to the oily marinade.
Take the tray of chicken and slice open leaving the cellophane top on, with one flap. Then add the marinade mix and make sure the thighs are coated on all sides and in every crevice. Give them a bit of a massage. Pop the cellophane top back over the tray and cover with more foil or clingfilm if required. Leave in the fridge at least overnight and if you can for 36 hours.
When ready to barbecue, remove from the fridge about 45 mins before to allow the fridge chill to wear off. You might see that the lemon has ‘cooked’ the chicken somewhat but don’t worry about this, carry on regardless. Take each thigh out and brush off the excess marinade so you don’t get a flare up on the grill. Barbecue the chicken on each side for around 10 mins. You need the skin to be crispy so don’t bugger about with the chicken constantly by moving it about. If you do then the skin will tear and stick to the barbecue rather than the chicken. Which means less calorific skin for the recipients.
Check the chicken is cooked before you serve it by cutting into one thigh. We had to pop ours back on as they were still raw inside. Serve with kitchen towel for juice mopping, and cold beer.
So it’s day two of being a ‘stay at home mum’ (as we’re called – so politically correct) and I’m being bullied by a toddler. Today, despite filling the day with all manner of joyful toddler activities, I was almost reduced to tears in public. I am essentially being punished for not being ‘Nanny’ ie/ my mother. It seems that a day filled with baby gym, lunch in town, bus spotting, the park and choosing books at the library does not compare to a day hanging out at Nanny’s.
Needless to say, not the most enjoyable day, so a comforting, creamy supper was called for. Something not overly complex, easy to make and restorative. After all, the bullying recommences at about 7.30am tomorrow…
Put a large pan on the stove and melt the butter on a medium heat, add the leeks and stir with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat to low and let the leeks soften for about 10 mins but don’t let them colour. They taste a bit funny if they do.
Add the risotto rice and stir into the leeks, almost dry frying the mixture. Add the salt, pepper and thyme and give it another stir. Turn up the heat and add some chicken stock, about 300mls. Have about a litre on standby, but you really won’t know how much you need until the end. Using the wooden spoon, stir away and continue adding stock until you have a risotto like appearance. You want some bite left in the rice, so when the rice starts to look like it’s changing shape (swelling) remove from the heat. Try a spoonful to make sure.
Add the cream cheese and stir, then add the chicken. I like to keep the chicken in fairly large slices as otherwise this dish, being pale in appearance, can look a bit like baby food. I like to be able to identify what I’m eating.
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