Category Archives: Chicken

Roast Chicken 2.0 : Chicken Stock

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Chicken Stock

 

I feel I am on a mission.  After somebody telling me not to post about roast chicken – how dare they.   Well I posted my favourite ‘how to’ roast a chicken yesterday and I feel it is my duty to follow up.  What better way than with a recipe for chicken stock.

Stock is one of those things that people tend to think is only for the cook with either too much time or lots of skill.  Ok, it takes time to make stock, but not ‘active’ time.  And skill?  Well, if you can fill a pa with vegetables, chicken and water, then you have enough skill to make stock.  It only takes you 10 minutes to set the stock going in a pan and then that’s it.  Since I have started making my own stock (I do mostly chicken and vegetable), I can honestly say I’ve never looked back.  I used to rely on those horrible little cubes (you know the ones) to add flavour to my soups, stews and broths, but no more, and what a difference.  I think my personal light bulb moment came when I read the ingredients on the side of those mass produced stocks and it really put me off.  They are basically little pellets of salt and transfats – could there be a worse combination? Yeah, maybe, I once ate a so-called dessert of marshmallows melted in the microwave poured over the ice-cream.   Somebody gave it to me at a dinner party – what do you do?  Anyway, chicken stock.

The other thing about stock is that it appeals to my frugal food nature – I hate to throw food away.  I get a very satisfied feeling (smug actually) when I use every bit of my chicken before discarding the bones.

So, on the next rainy Sunday afternoon, put the stock on to simmer gently, get the newspapers out and kick back.

Chicken Stock Recipe
Ingredients for about 30 frozen ice-cubed sized blocks or soup, stew, or broth for about 15 to 20 portions

Carcass of one chicken (all bones and skin)
1 x large onion, quartered and studded with 5 x cloves
1 x leek cleaned well and cut into 4 pieces
2 x large garlic cloves, crushed with skin
3 x celery stalks (or celery heart) chopped in 3 parts
2 x large carrot chopped in 3 large pieces
3 x bay leaves
1 x handful of thyme
4 or 5 sprigs of rosemary
1 x small handful of black peppercorns
2 x tsps of salt
If you have roasted a chicken on top of onion or other vegetables and herbs, put this all into your stock pan too.

Method

  1. Place all the above ingredients in your biggest pan, and cover with water from a recently boiled kettle.
  2. Bring to the boil and then turn to a gentle simmer for at least 2 hours.
  3. Squeeze and mash the stock with a potato masher a few times, just to release as much flavour as possible.
  4. Strain the mixture, making sure it is clear, place it back in the pan and boil until it reduces to about a third of its original volume. The amount you reduce kind of depends on how you are going to store it. If you want to make iced cubes as this recipe suggests, you can reduce further, but you may wish to use it straight away for soup or another recipe in which case I usually go by taste. When the reduction has reached the concentration off taste that I want, I stop there.
  5. It will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, but if you want to keep it, portion it out and freeze it.

Tips and Variations

  • My stock actually starts when I am roasting a chicken. Underneath the chicken in the oven, I place thickly sliced, one onion, maybe a couple of crushed garlic cloves. Then I cover the bottom of the roasting tin with water, so that this chicken is on top of the onion, and not in the water.
  • Use other parts of vegetables to create this stock. For example, I often use broccoli stalks. They are packed with flavour, and it’s better than throwing them away. Basically any leftover vegetables, or vegetables that are not looking their best are great.
  • When reducing, to decide on the amount, I usually think about what I want to use it for, how concentrated I want the flavour and also how much space I have in the freezer. I find the best way is to reduce until it fills an ice-cube tray (or two) this gives me handy little blocks of flavour that I can drop into any soups or stews.       Once frozen, I empty the cubes into freezer bags.
  • If you reduce it too much by volume, it won’t freeze properly – I think because of fat content.
  • I sometimes skip the freezing in ice-cube containers and just pour (once cooled) a little stock into freezer bags and place those directly in the freezer or small Tupperware containers.

 

 

Fail Safe Delicious Roast Chicken

RoastChicken

I was reading an article written by  a food blogger about what she had decided were the most annoying things that other food bloggers and recipe writers do.  One of the things she asked us all to do was to stop posting recipes for Roast Chicken.  She said that if your readers didn’t know how to do that, then there’s not much hope for them.  I didn’t like the comment or the tone.  It wasn’t so many years ago that I didn’t know how to roast a chicken.  I didn’t consider myself hopeless, but I was just lacking in knowledge.  I understand all to well what it’s like to be a beginner cook, when everything seems overwhelming.  The thing is about roasting a chicken, it is easy, but like so many things in life, if you don’t know how, then it might as well be rocket science.  You don’t know what you don’t know – right?  The other thing is about roast chicken, for me anyway, was that the result looked and tasted so fantastic that I thought there must be some kind of complicated technique to achieve this.  It is a really simple process, and many cooks and chefs play around with it, trying to make it better.  That’s not my thing, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  My method is simple, and I get a fantastic result every time.  So if you’ve never tried it before or if you have been bamboozled by overcomplicated recipes, start here.

And then go to my recipe for Chicken Stock.

 Perfect Roast Chicken

 This really begins with the quality of the chicken you buy. The things I look for are:-

  • A chicken that doesn’t look as if it has been pumped up with a bicycle pump.
  • A proportioned bird, not one with a huge breast section and tiny legs.
  • Some small fat deposits under the skin.
  • On feeling the skin it feels a bit lose – there is some movement – its not tight.
  • A good poultry shop.
  • Free range is a good indicator of quality.

To Cook the Chicken

Ingredients

1 x good quality chicken ( a bird of about 1.5kg will give you 4 good portions)
Salt and Pepper to taste
One lemon (optional)
One large onion
A little olive oil (about 2 x dessert spoons)
5 or 6 sprigs of each Rosemary and thyme (optional)

Method

  1. Use a roasting tin that can comfortably hold the bird.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.
  3. Cut a large onion into 5 thick, equal rings, place them in a 2, 2, 1 formation in the roasting tin.
  4. Cut the lemon into 4 wedges and place this inside the chicken along with Rosemary and thyme.
  5. Place the chicken on top of the onion slices.
  6. Rub the oil onto the palm of your hands and then rub it over the chicken.
  7. Sprinkle with Salt and pepper.
  8. Add water to the roasting tin, just out of the tap. Enough to take the water level up to the top of the slices of onion.
  9. Place the chicken in the oven for about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Check after about 50 minutes.  When it’s an even golden brown, take the chicken out.
  10. To test if it is cooked through take a slim knife or a skewer and press it into the place where the leg joins the body. If the juice that comes out is clear and you see no pink flesh, the chicken is ready. If you do see traces of pink, put back and check again after 10 to 15 minutes, repeating this until there is no trace of pink or red.

Cooking time may vary depending on your oven and the size of the bird.  You may also see that one side of the chicken cooks quicker than the other.  This is due to hotspots in the oven, so all you need to do is turn it around.

Southern Fried Chicken Recipe

ChickFriedSouthern2

This is my tribute to my trip to Savannah and to my first ever taste of southern fried chicken at Miss Wilkes restaurant.  Yes, honestly, I have never ever had southern fried chicken –  and no, I have NEVER even been in a KFC!  This was my first time.  I think it’s safe to say that I saved the best for first! Oh, if it’s a healthy meal you want, look away now.

Marinating Time: Up to 8 hours
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Serves 4 to 6
1.2kg / 2.6 lb. chicken legs and thighs. This weight usually gives me 4 legs and 4 thighs.
500ml / 1 pt. buttermilk
1 x tsp salt
150gr / 5 oz. plain flour
½ tsp salt
2 x heaped tsps of spicy smoked paprika powder (you can also use the mild version, but I like spice)
2 x tsps dried thyme
1 x tsp freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil to fry the chicken (I like to use rapeseed oil or sunflower oil)

ChickFriedSouthern1

Method

  1. Pour the buttermilk into a tray or bowl add one teaspoon of salt, mix through and place the chicken pieces into the buttermilk. Depending on the size and shape of your bowl you may need a little bit more buttermilk in order that the chicken is covered. Cover with some cling film and place in the fridge for up to 8 hours. Remove before frying to give enough time to bring the meat up to room temperature.
  2. In a dish or bowl combine the flour, half teaspoon of salt, smoked paprika, thyme and pepper. Combine with your fingers or a fork.
  3. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk marinade and dispose of the marinade. Shake off most of the drips and then dredge the chicken in your flour mix making sure each piece is covered completely.
  4. Heat about 1.5cm / 0.5 in. of oil in a heavy bottomed wide pan. While this is heating up you can get a wire rack ready to drain the chicken. I do this by placing kitchen paper over the rack.
  5. The oil temperature should be about 170°C / 340°F for frying. I don’t check with a thermometer but by putting a piece of bread in the oil and it is ready when it fizzes and turns brown quickly. The time the oil takes to heat up will depend on the thickness of the metal of your pan, your stove top and the quantity of oil you have used.
  6. You will probably have to cook in batches so as not to over load the pan. I start with the thighs which need a little bit more time than the legs. Place each one carefully in the pan and fry, covered, on a good strong simmer for anywhere between 8 to 12 minutes on each side. The heat needs to be high enough to give you a nice brown colour and a crisp finish. Remove and set on the rack to drain. Then do the same with the legs, giving them a couple of minutes less than the thighs.

Tips and Variations

  • It is not necessary to marinate the chicken. I like to do it if at all possible because I feel that it gives a very slight background flavour and the buttermilk helps the flour and spice mix stick to the chicken. If you don’t have time to marinate the meat, I would still dip it in the buttermilk to give it that little coating.
  • The marinating time can be much longer than 8 hours if you wish, perhaps you may want to leave it overnight and fry off the next evening, that’s fine, but just be aware of the use by date of your meat.
  • The chicken is best eaten straight away as it loses its crunch if you leave it too long.
  • I like to serve it with Savannah red rice (see recipe) and some green beans or spinach.

Recipe for Chicken Piri Piri

Recipe for Piri Piri Chicken

Recipe for Chicken Piri Piri

My recipe for chicken piri piri recipe has been a long time in the making.  It’s origins lie way back in 1994 when I spent a summer working in the Algarve.  This was my introduction to frango (chicken) piri piri.  After a summer of eating only piri piri and sardines, I went off both of these dishes – but time passes, you get older, nostalgic.  Hungry thoughts went back to that summer and of course its food.  I found a couple of piri piri recipes from famous chefs, but it just wasn’t what I remembered.  I put it on the back burner for a while (not literally).  For some reason, the idea that I didn’t know how to make a good piri piri marinade really annoyed me.  So, this time I went for it.  I booked a flight to Portugal and spent a long weekend tasting various piri piri meals!  Extreme?  You be the judge…… tell me if you think it was worth it….

Chicken Preparation Time: 10 minutes, plus 1 hour marinating time
Time To Make the Piri Piri Marinade: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 to 45 minutes
Rice Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Rice Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients for 4 servings
The Chicken
1 x good quality chicken weighing about 1.5kg/3lb 5oz.
1 x lemon, quartered for  serving

The Piri Piri Marinade
3 x red chili peppers (more if you want it hotter – or less if you want it milder!
4 x large garlic cloves
2 x tsp paprika powder
2 x tsp cumin powder
I x red onion, quartered
2 x tbsp red wine vinegar
2 x tbsp honey
2 x tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lemon
½ tsp salt

For the Spicy Rice
300gr / 10.5 oz.  basmati rice
2 x tsp Ras El Hanout (North African spice mix)
½ tsp cumin powder
1 x tsp cardamom powder
1 x tbsp butter
A handful of flat leaved parsley chopped finely
Salt to taste

Method

  1. Firstly, this chicken needs to be spatchcocked.  This allows a quicker cooking time and works really well if you want to barbeque the meat.
  2. With the chicken’s back bone facing upwards, take a sturdy pair of poultry or game scissors and cut up each side of the back bone to remove it.  Then turn the chicken over, lean on the breastbone with the heal of your hand and press hard enough to break it so that the chicken is flattened.
  3. Make a couple of slashes in the thickest part of each of the legs of the chicken.  This will allow the piri piri marinade to penetrate the flesh and also aid even cooking.  Place the chicken skin side up in your roasting tray (if you are roasting in the oven) or on a dish ready to go to the barbeque.
  4. Place the piri piri marinade ingredients into the food processor and blend until you get a smooth purée.
  5. Smear the piri piri mix evenly over the chicken and place in the fridge to marinate.  Leave for a hour an hour, but longer if you can, overnight is great.
  6. To cook in the oven: Pre-heat to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 . Place the chicken in a roasting tray and cook for about 30 to 45 minutes.  Check after 25 to see if the juices are running clear.  If you want a more crispy finish, you can put the chicken under a hot grill for a few minutes.
    To cook on the barbeque: Once the flames have died down on your barbeque fire, place the chicken skin side down on the centre area and cook for about 15 minutes until nice and crispy.  Then flip the bird over for about another 10 to 15 minutes until cooked through.  The cooking times will vary depending on your barbeque, so the best way is to check by piercing the thickest part of the bird around the area where the leg joins the body with a knife, press and if the juice that comes out runs clear then the chicken is ready.  If the juices are pink or red, then you need to cook for longer.
  7. To make the rice, add the spices to the water you will cook the rice in and stir.  Cook as normal.  When ready, fork through the parsley, butter and some salt to taste.
  8. To serve, cut the bird with your poultry scissors into 4 pieces. Cut in half lengthways, then divide the 2 halves by cutting each one between the leg and wing.  Serve with the lemon wedges and a little more fresh parsley leaves sprinkled over the top.

 Tips and Variations

  • There is no need to spatchcock your chicken if it is not going on the barbeque, but it is easier, as it holds the marinade better and cooks quicker.
  • The marinade works well with chicken pieces too (thighs, legs, wings, breasts)
  • The chicken will blacken a little on the outside, this is how it is supposed to look.
  • If you don’t have time to let the meat marinade for an hour, just use whatever time you have.
  • Serve with a simple green salad and some crisp, fresh Vinho Verde.
  • I like to make extra marinade to keep in the fridge for the next time – it will keep easily for a good few weeks.

PiriPiriChick

Thai Chicken Broth

Thai Chicken Broth

Thai Chicken Broth

This was the first Thai recipe I ever tried and I still love it.  I can remember feeling quite intimidated by all those ingredients that I’d never used before, but it quickly became a standard recipe for me.  Really easy to make, keeps well, friends love it too.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time:  30 minutes

 Ingredients for 4 Servings

250gr skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
250gr chicken thigh meat cut into strips
800ml chicken (or vegetable) stock
1 large thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 x tbsp red Thai curry paste
1 x tbsp Thai fish sauce
Juice of a lime
2 x tsps honey
2 x garlic cloves, chopped roughly
2 x shallots, chopped finely
1 x red pepper cut into thin strips
1 x yellow pepper cut into thin strips
1 x tomato chopped into 6 wedges
6 x spring onions, chopped roughly
1 x red chili, chopped finely
1 x tin of coconut milk (400gr)
Optional – 250gr frozen peas (straight from the freezer)
A large handful of fresh coriander chopped roughly

Method

  1. Place the stock, ginger, curry paste, tomato, fish sauce, lime, honey, garlic, shallots, peppers, and the chili into a large soup pan, bring to the boil, turn down to a gentle simmer and allow to infuse for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken and poach it gently in the broth for another 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
  3. Add the coconut milk and spring onions stir through on a medium heat or so that the broth reaches a gentle simmer and cook for 7 minutes.
  4. If you want to add the peas, do this about 4 minutes before serving – you can add them straight from the freezer.
  5. Add the coriander, check for seasoning and serve.

 Tips and Variations

  • Serve over some rice noodles with some halved boiled eggs on the side for a heartier meal
  • Toast some peanuts to sprinkle over the broth for a bit of crunch.
  • Add some chives and mint just before serving for an extra burst of herby freshness.
  • You can use leftover chicken for this, saves on the cooking time, or even skip the chicken if you wish.

Thai Chicken Broth