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Archive for the ‘Meat (Poultry)’ Category

Mulligatawny is such a strange sounding word, but it simply means pepper water.  Rather than being rooted in India, it is thought that Mulligatawny probably originated in Sri Lanka, although it could possibly have come from the Tamil speaking people of South India.  ‘Mulligatawny’ or ‘Milagu Thanni’ is an amalgam of two Tamil words: ‘Millagu’ meaning pepper and ‘Thanni’ meaning water, although the soup we eat is probably closer to another Tamilian soup called Rasam.  Originally a thin soup, under the rulers of the British colonial Raj Mulligatawny became rich and dense.  A Mulligatawny soup recipe such as this one would have been familiar to those Britons who lived and worked during the Imperial Raj, the British rule of the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947.  Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon), a large island just to the south of mainland India, had close ties to Britain but was never part of the Raj.  The British tried to recreate familiar dishes, as far as possible using the new and unusual ingredients they found but the hot climate, lack of refrigeration and unfamiliar cooking facilities would have made this very difficult.  Originally Mulligatawny was served as a vegetarian ‘sauce’, but the British varied the recipe, including meat and other ingredients, often thickening it with rice and adding turmeric to give a yellow colour.  Recipes for Mulligatawny appeared in many Victorian publications including one in the 1870 Nabob’s cook book which featured the addition of ‘fowl’.  Although the soup was popular in India and Ceylon, it was not highly thought of back home in England but the resulting mixture of East and West has cast an influence on British cooking which can still be found today.

I have wanted to make Mulligatawny Soup for some time but when looking for a recipe, as you can imagine from the information above, there is  a great deal of choice.  I knew that I wanted to make a hearty and spicy soup which could be eaten in place of a main meal: the type that would be ideal when the weather is at its January chilliest.  I found two complementary recipes and this version of Mulligatawny Soup is a combination of the best of both.  The sources were Women’s Institute Soups for all Seasons by Liz Herbert and a wonderful recent find (from the secondhand bookstall at the church where my choir meets) The Ultimate Hot & Spicy Cookbook by various authors (published by Lorenz books), which I will certainly be revisiting again and again.  I certainly wanted to add meat, chicken from choice (but this could be varied) and unable to choose between adding rice as in the Women’s Institute Soups for all Seasons and lentils as in The Ultimate Hot & Spicy Cookbook I decided to add both, something I will definitely do again.  The second book also included sultanas, but as I do not like these in curries I have left them out.  The dollop of Mango Chutney (home made, of course!) made it sweet enough for me.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Mulligatawny Soup
(Serves 3-4)

10g/½oz butter
1tbsp olive oil
4 chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite size chunks
or
2 chicken breast fillets, cut into bite size chunks
or
about 8ozs/200g leftover turkey or chicken from a roast
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 medium sized carrot, diced
1 medium sized potato, diced
1 small turnip, diced (optional)
1 tbsp mild madras curry powder (or another powder of your choice)
1 litre/1¾pints chicken stock
2 large tomatoes, chopped (did not skin & deseed as in original recipe)
2-4 cloves (according to personal preference)
6 black peppercorns, crushed lightly
4ozs/100g rice (preferably Basmati)
2ozs/50g red lentils
2ozs/50g sultanas (optional – I left these out)
handful chopped coriander (reserve some for garnish) – or parsley
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Garnish
1tbsp per bowl natural yoghurt/crème fraîche/sour cream (more if you wish)
1tsp per bowl mango chutney
chopped fresh coriander (reserved)
grind of black pepper or light dusting of cayenne pepper/chilli powder

1.  Melt the butter and oil together in a large saucepan.  Turn up the heat and fry the diced raw  chicken quickly turning frequently until it has browned.  (Cooked leftover chicken should be added about 10minutes before the serving which should be just long enough for it to be thoroughly heated through.)  This should take about 2 minutes.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

2.  Stir the curry powder into the remaining oil and cook briefly.  Add the onion, garlic, carrot, potato and turnip (if using) to the oil remaining in the pan.  Stir well and turn down the heat.  Cover and cook very gently for about 10 minutes.

3.  Add the stock and stir well.  Add the cloves, crushed peppercorns and chopped tomatoes.  Bring to the boil and reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer gently for 2o minutes.

4.  Return the cooked chicken to the pan along with most of the chopped coriander, including the stalky pieces (use just chopped leaves for the garnish).  Add the rice and lentils and simmer gently until they are just cooked, adding a little extra water only if needed.  (If leftover cooked chicken is being used in place of fresh meat, this should be added about 10 minutes before the end of cooking time.)

5.  Remove the cloves before serving if you can find them. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve in warmed soup bowls topped with a dollop of natural yoghurt, crème fraîche or sour cream, a spoonful of mango chutney and a scattering of chopped fresh coriander leaves (or parsley).  This can be served with Naan bread if you wish.

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I don’t know what your favourite Chinese dish is, but anything containing duck seems to rate very highly in our house.  Duck with pancakes is regularly ordered when we visit a Chinese restaurant but I don’t think I would attempt the crispy duck or the special pancakes. Duck with Plum Sauce is just as popular whilst being much less complicated and when I came across this simple recipe I knew it would be well received.  The aromatic spiced sharp sweetness of the plum sauce is a perfect contrast for the rich flavour of the simply pan fried and beautifully crispy duck.  I first made it last November for my husband’s birthday supper using duck legs and then once again in this March as part of the Chinese banquet I served for mum’s birthday, instead using duck breasts.  I know I will be making it again.

The original recipe for Duck Breasts with Plum Sauce came from the November 2010 issue of the ASDA Free instore magazine.  It is a useful dish as the sauce can be made in advance and the duck cooked fairly quickly just before it is needed, initially on the hob before being finished in the oven. The amount of sauce is very generous and is enough for at least 8 people, if not more (though 6-8 if you like a large serving).  On both occasions I ended up freezing half of the sauce for later use.  I need to remember to halve it on another occasion but meantime I have sauce to use up!  The sauce would also be delicious with pork, whether a roast joint, chops or belly strips and also with chicken.  It could also be used as a pork marinade in a similar way to that used in the recipe for Aromatic Finger Lickin’ Pork.  As one of several dishes, I served this on a bed of shredded lettuce, cucumber sticks and tomato wedges.  As a single main dish I would serve it with plain or egg fried rice and a dish of stir fried vegetables.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Duck with Chinese Style Plum Sauce
(Serves 4)
4 small Duck Breasts (as a main course – one or two breasts if serving several dishes)
1tbsp sunflower oil
1 garlic clove, choppedcrushed
1cm/½inch piece fresh root ginger, peeled & grated
350g/12ozs plums, halved & stoned
2tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp white sugar
1tsp Chinese five-spice powder
2tbsp Soy Sauce
1tbsp sweet chilli sauce

1.  Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6.

2.  Remove the duck from the fridge and pat the skin with kitchen paper to remove any moisture before leaving it at room temperature, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

3.  Make shallow, parallel cuts in the duck breast skin, being careful not to slice right through the skin to the meat.

4.  Heat the oil in a pan and gently cook the garlic and ginger on a low heat for 1 minute.

5.  Add the plums, vinegar, sugar, five-spice, soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce.  Cover the pan and gently simmer the sauce for 5 minutes.  Remove the lid and simmer the sauce for a further 5-10 minutes to reduce.

6.  Liquidise to make a thick smooth sauce and return to the pan to keep warm.

7.  Meanwhile, gently heat a large frying pan and cook the duck, skin-side down, on a medium heat, for 5 minutes.  Thee skin should become golden brown and start to crisp.

8.  Drain off the fat and reserve – it is delicious for roasting potatoes. Turn over the duck and cook on the other side for 1 minute more.

9.  Transfer the duck into a roasting tin and place in the pre-heated oven, skin-side up, for 9-15 minutes, depending on how pink you like your duck meat.

10.  When cooked, leave the meat to rest for 10 minutes. Then slice and place on a serving dish on a bed of lettuce, cucumber and tomato.  Alternatively place unsliced onto a plate and serve with Chinese style rice and stir fried vegetables.

11.  The sauce should be reheated to serve with the duck, either poured over or alongside in a small serving jug .

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The Peanut, or groundnut as it is sometimes known, is both versatile and protein rich.  Peanut butter, a popular spread, has filled the sandwiches of generations of schoolchildren as well as being a mainstay for expeditions including those to the South and North Poles, plus peanut based paste products have been used to help feed malnourished children in developing countries.  Here in the UK, though, peanuts rarely feature as a cooking ingredient.  Apart from in peanut butter, they are more often thought of as a party snack item, although they are sometimes added, ground and/or whole in biscuits and very occasionally cooked into a nut loaf or nut burgers.  In other parts of the world, including South America, South East Asia, India and parts of Africa, the peanut is widely used either whole, ground into flour or with the oil used for frying in both savoury and sweet recipes.  In India peanuts are eaten in a number of ways: roasted and salted, sometimes with chilli powder added, they can be a savoury snack – and a sweet version when processed with sugar; they can be boiled or give added crunch to salads.  The peanut is native to and almost certainly originated in Peru where specimens can be dated back several millennia.  One well known Peruvian recipe, Papas con Ocopa, is a smooth sauce of roasted peanuts, hot peppers, roasted onions, garlic and oil, served poured over boiled potatoes. On the other side of the world the Indonesians have a number of spicy peanut based sauces, the most well known being Satay and Gado-gado.  In Africa too, where this recipe originates, the peanut commonly appears as an ingredient in stews, both with or without meat.

The original recipe for Chicken & Peanut Stew, comes from the Tesco website as part of a series of international recipes to celebrate World Cup 2010.  Its flavours originate from West Africa and the recipe was taken from the book The Soul Of A New Cuisine: A Discovery Of The Foods And Flavours Of Africa, by Marcus Samuelsson.  In the end I used mostly the same basic method and ingredients with a few slight variations: less chilli and ginger, though more of both would be fine, and I used poached pre-cooked chicken (although chicken thighs would be a good alternative) and added a sweet potato for good measure.  I was concerned that cooking the peanuts would make them lose their crunch but I need not have worried.  The stew was mostly soft in texture but with a delicious peanutty flavour and crunch.  It is a delicious and unusual recipe, not difficult to make and one which I will definitely be repeating.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

West African Style Chicken & Peanut Stew
(Serves 4)

2 medium onions, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2·5cm/1in pieces
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2·5cm/1in pieces
½-1 small chilli – deseed and remove membranes
2.5cm/1inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 bay leaves
6 peppercorns, white if available
900ml/1½ pints of water
1tsp chicken stock liquid/½stock cube (unless using fresh chicken pieces)
12ozs cold cooked chicken
or
4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs
200g/7ozs peanuts, salted or unsalted (seasoning can be adjusted later)
3tbsp olive oil
2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut into 5cm/2in cubes
4 tomatoes, cut into quarters
500g/1Ib spinach, tough stems removed, washed
Salt, if needed

1.  Put the onion, carrot, sweet potato, chilli, ginger, bay leaves and peppercorns, along with the water and the stock powder/liquid/cube into a medium sized saucepan.  Bring to a boil over a high heat and then reduce the heat to medium.

2.  If using fresh meat it should be added now – previously cooked meat is added later when the potatoes are cooked.  Add the chicken thigh pieces to the pan.  Simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

3.  Toast the peanuts in a dry frying pan on medium heat, shaking occasionally, until you can smell them roasting and they are golden brown.  Once cool, grind 100g /3½oz (half) of the toasted peanuts to a powder.  (This will be used to thicken the stew. The remaining peanuts should be kept whole.)  Put the pan on one side to use later for frying the potatoes.

4.  Remove the chicken from the cooking liquid and put on one side.  Throw away the bay leaves.  Liquidise about half of the vegetable and stock mixture until smooth and then re-combine with the unliquidised mixture and set aside.  If you want a less chunky stew then liquidise all the vegetable and stock mixture.

5.  Put the oil in the frying pan used for roasting peanuts over a medium heat.  Put in the potato pieces and sauté for about 10 minutes until golden brown.

6.   Add the chicken pieces that have been set aside or the pieces of cold cooked chicken and toss for about 10 minutes so they start to brown a little, adding a little extra oil if needed. Remove the pan from the heat.

7.  Return the vegetable purée mixture to the saucepan and bring to the boil.  Stir in both the ground peanuts and the remaining 100g/3½oz whole toasted peanuts until well combined.

8.  Add the tomatoes, browned chicken, potatoes and spinach.  Simmer for around 5 minutes until completely heated through and the spinach has wilted.  Remove from the heat, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

9.  Serve with rice or crusty bread, if required, as an addition to the potatoes already in the stew.

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Sometimes I think it is useful to add simple techniques to this site, especially if they are as versatile as this one for portions of pre-cooked chicken conveniently available for use in recipes or to eat cold.  Some weeks ago I needed to make a batch of Mexican Style Chicken & Pepper Salad large enough to feed 50 people.  It seemed obvious to poach the chicken first, along with onion and herbs for flavour, letting it cool before refrigerating until needed for the recipe.  All I needed was some instructions: I did not feel I wanted to trust guesswork with such a large and expensive quantity.

After some research I found a very clear method for poaching chicken at About.com along with another linked page giving additional information.  The method is for cooking boneless, skinless, chicken breast pieces, a healthy option that does not require oil or fat and relatively low in salt as the amount used is controlled by the cook.  There is no salt in the ingredients list for the recipe below which is simply flavoured by the onion and herbs.  The resulting chicken is full of flavour, soft and juicy.  The meat can then be used in any chicken recipe.  It can be used hot in chicken pies, soups, stews and curries, though if adapting a recipe for uncooked chicken the pre-cooked meat should be added towards the end of the cooking time, providing enough time is given for it to be thoroughly reheated.  It is just as good cold in sandwiches and salads (though unless necessary I would not choose to use meat from frozen batches as the taste is affected, albeit slightly).  Poached chicken can be substituted in any recipe using cold meat leftovers from a Sunday roast or a shop bought pre-cooked chicken.  Poaching liquids can be varied: usually just plain water, the advantage being there are no strong flavours to clash with those in the recipe in which it is used.  The water can also be flavoured, for example with herbs (as with my version below which uses onion and Herbes de Provence), pieces of root ginger or other spices.  Alternatively substitute chicken or vegetable broth, white wine, cider, tomato or other fruit juice, coconut milk or other liquid.   My sister in law uses a similar method pre-cooking belly pork pieces with root ginger to tenderise them, before using them in, Chinese Style Belly Pork & Greens/Broccoli/Bok Choy, a Chinese style stir fried pork dish and I am sure this method could be applied to other meats.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Basic Recipe: Poached Chicken Breasts
Serves 3-4 people

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
1 medium sized onion, peeled & roughly chopped
2 tsp herbes de Provence or dried mixed herbs
1 bay leaf (optional)
around 1½-2 cups/12-16 fl ozs or ¾pint/450ml water
(enough to cover the meat by at least half inch)

NB: It is important to:

  • use a pan in which the pieces can snugly sit in a single layer;
  • completely cover the meat with the poaching liquid;
  • follow the cooking temperatures and timings;
  • carefully observe the instructions for use and storage once the meat is cooked.

1.  Place chicken breasts in the bottom of a heavy bottomed pot just about large enough for them to fit in one layer.  (Say how much in one layer and size of pot – see info on Mex chick recipe).

2.  Cover the chicken with water or poaching liquid.  The meat should be covered by at least a half inch and up to one inch.  Add the onion and herbs – and bay leaf if using.  (Alternatively root ginger or other spices.)

3.  Bring the liquid to the boil and then lower the heat until it is barely simmering – just an occasional bubble rising to the surface.

4.  Partly cover the pot and simmer very gently for 10 minutes.

5.  Turn off the heat and leave the chicken to finish cooking for 10-15 minutes longer.

6.  Remove the chicken from the cooking liquid and set aside.  Remove and discard the bay leaf if used.   Reserve the cooking liquid for use as stock – either strained or unstrained as the base of a soup.

7.  The meat can either be eaten warm or allowed to cool for a short while before refrigerating for later use.  The pieces can be left whole, sliced, shredded or cut into chunks depending on what you want to use it for.   It is economical to cook a good quantity in one go, which can then be frozen in portions providing it is thoroughly defrosted before use. 

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My last post was Chunky Vegetable & Pasta Soup: warming, satisfying and meat free.  I thought I would follow it with an equally warming and satisfying one that includes just a little meat: some chicken and bacon.  I am very fond of red lentils too, which cook down to give the soup a warming, slightly grainy thickness.  Although the original recipe specified fresh meat (a boned chicken thigh) I substituted leftover chicken, adding it later in the recipe as it was already cooked.  It is always good to have a variety of ways to use up the remains of a chicken – or even some of the Christmas turkey!  I suspect we will continue to have warming winter soups for some weeks yet so I am sure I will be making this again and very soon.

This is yet another hit recipe from my favourite soup recipe book, initially from the library but then bought with some birthday present money: Women’s Institute Soups for all Seasons by Liz Herbert. In the book it is called The Number One Winter Soup, a rather strange title and although I agree that it is a first class recipe, I did feel I wanted something more helpfully descriptive.  Apart from substituting leftover chicken as I had some available, in place of a chicken thigh, the recipe is more or less as it originally appeared.  I did add a few more lentils to make the portions a little more generous and I have included this information in the instructions below.  (The lower figure is the amount of lentils given in the original.)  This dish is easily adapted by adding a little more of any of the ingredients that are particular favourites plus, of course, it could be completely meat free if the chicken and bacon were removed, vegetable stock substituted and a tin of favourite beans added.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Winter Vegetable, Chicken & Bacon Soup (The Number One Winter Soup)
(Serves 4)

1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp butter
4ozs/125g streaky bacon (about 4 rashers)
1 boneless fresh chicken thigh
   or
4ozs/125g cooked chicken (or turkey)
2 onions, peeled & chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sticks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 parsnip, diced
2 leeks, sliced
3pints/1.7litres weak chicken (or turkey) stock
175g/6ozs red lentils (can increase to 225g/8ozs)
2tbsp chopped fresh parsley (plus a little to garnish)
¼tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

1.  Heat the oil and butter together in a large saucepan.  Cut the bacon into small pieces and gently fry until golden.

2.  If using fresh chicken cut into small pieces and add now.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on a gentle heat until it starts to brown.  (Pre-cooked chicken is added later to prevent it from breaking up.)

3.  Stir in the onions, garlic, celery, carrots, parsnips and leeks.  Cover and cook over a low heat for about 10minutes until they are starting to soften.

4.  Add the stock, lentils, thyme, bay leaf and parsley (remembering to reserve a little parsley to garnish).  Bring to the boil, cook for 10 minutes uncovered, then put on the lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 30minutes.  If using leftover chicken add this 10minutes before serving, which gives enough time for it to adequately heat through.

5.  Before serving check and adjust the seasoning.  Serve in warmed bowls, garnished with the reserved parsley and with some crusty bread on the side.

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Every year I try to find something new to try using the turkey leftovers from Christmas.  After the festive meal we strip the carcass of usable meat, reserving the remainder for turkey soup and stock.  We enjoy some of the meat cold, but the remainder is packaged up into meal sized portions (in our case to feed 3/4 people) and frozen.  We have favourites of course such as Midwinter Turkey Chilli Beanpot, Turkey & Bacon Fricassée and Turkey Flan with Leeks & Cheese .  I had been meaning to try pearl barley in place of rice to make a dish similar to a risotto, so when I came across this recipe I just had to give it a go especially as I needed a recipe that was quick and easy.  Since writing this post I have been reminded through the comments of the reported health benefits of Barley Water, often recommended for kidney health.  Barley Water is mentioned in Wikipedia as a remedy for cystitis, but does not specifically mention the kidneys:  there are numerous other sites which do make the link though, but to which I am not prepared to add a link.   My mother used to use the water in which barley had been boiled and flavour it with slightly sweetened lemon for a version of Lemon Barley Water that was so much better than any brand name bottled variety.  (You can also cheat and use it to water down a commercial lemon – or orange – squash.)

The recipe comes from the website Allrecipes.co.uk, which is a good source of ideas.  The original was called Lemon Barley Pilaf with Chicken.  This is my version which uses Turkey and Bacon.  It can be made with either fresh or pre-cooked turkey (I have given instructions for both) adding the bacon for extra flavour.  (Chicken can be used if you prefer.)  A smaller quantity of leftover meat will be needed than fresh meat and, of course, ready cooked meat is added towards the end of the cooking time as it just needs reheating.  I ‘tweaked’ a few of the other ingredients a little and also used baby Spinach in place of rocket.  The instructions for cooking the pearl barley did not seem to give it long enough, so in line with another recipe I make regularly (Pot Roasted Vegetables and Pearl Barley) I pre-cooked the barley for a short while (about 15 minutes) before adding it to the remaining ingredients.  This recipe got the thumbs up from my family, particularly because of its delicious fresh lemony flavour, so I shall definitely be making it again.  I think it could equally well be made as a conventional risotto using arborio or a similar risotto rice.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Lemon Barley Pilaf with Turkey & Bacon
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled & diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
225g pearl barley
600ml chicken stock, hot
1 tbsp chopped fresh or 1 tsp dried thyme
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
150g frozen peas
125g/40zs chopped bacon or leftover ham (optional)
325g/12ozs fresh diced turkey/chicken – extra if not using bacon
   or
250g skinned roast turkey/chicken, in small pieces – extra if not using bacon
50g baby spinach (or rocket as in the original recipe)

1.   Place the barley and stock in a saucepan.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until partially but not completely cooked.  Check liquid level reguarly to make sure it does dry out, adding a little extra water if needed.

2.  Put the oil in a heavy saucepan and heat over a medium heat. Stir in the onion and if using fresh meat add the diced fresh turkey or chicken and bacon (cooked meats are added later) and cook until it starts to change colour.  Add the carrot, celery and garlic and stir into the mixture.  Cook gently for about 1o minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften but without browning.

3. Stir in the cooked barley along with its cooking stock and bring back to the boil.   Stir in the thyme and lemon zest.  Turn the heat to as low as possible, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally until the barley is almost soft.

4.   Add peas and stir well.  Cover the pan and simmer for a further 4–5 minutes.The barley should be soft and the liquid should disappear but be careful the mixture does not stick so check and stir regularly.  Add the lemon juice.  If needed, a little more boiling water can be added.  Season to taste.

5. If using leftover ready cooked meat then dice it well and add to the pan.  Add the baby spinach leaves, lightly stir through the mixture and cook for no more than 1minute so it is just wilted.

6.  Serve immediately in a bowl with a scattering of grated parmesan (optional).

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Actually, I ought to start with a small confession…..  We ate Breton Chicken rather than Somerset Chicken, as I used a small bottle of cider from Brittany (it was what was in the cupboard and needed to be used).  I promise though that next time (and there will definitely be a next time) I will be authentic and put in the correct cider!  This chicken recipe is one of the best I have come across: with a delicious onion, apple and mushroom sauce including cider, cream and the piquancy of a very small amount of mustard.  One product that Somerset, a country in the West Country of England, is famed for is its cider.  Apart from being a popular and refreshing drink it can also be cooked into recipes in much the same way as wine or beer (think Coq au Vin or Steak & Ale Pie, for example) adding a delicious appley flavour.  I have previously posted a recipe for Sausage & Apple Cassoulet, with Pork Sausages cooked with a cider based sauce: Somerset chicken would I think also be good reinvented as Somerset pork.  This recipe also features a second product from Somerset.  Cheddar type cheeses are made widely across the world in places as far apart as Scotland, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand (and more besides) but Somerset is the home of real Cheddar cheese which originated in the town of the same name in the famous Cheddar Gorge.

The Hairy Bikers Somerset Chicken was one of the recipes that appealed to my whole family as soon as they saw it on the Hairy Bikers Food Tour of Britain television series.  I was very pleased to find the recipe at Good to Know.  It took me a while to get round to making it, partly because I hadn’t realised how easy it was, however having done it once and discovered its simplicity I shall make it more often.  It would be a good meal to serve visitors either for a simple midweek supper or for a more special meal.  My only comment is that this rich dish is unnecessarily enriched by the amount of butter and oil used especially as the recipe also includes cream and cheese.  I have reduced both of these, however the link to the original recipe is above for anyone who want to consult the original.  As usual, I also removed the skins from the chicken, because we prefer it and substituted reduced fat Elmlea single cream for the double cream, none of which I felt detracted from the finished dish.  As for the cider, I used half a small bottle of Breton cider and the other half is in the freezer for next time: I find that leftover alcoholic drinks store well in the freezer and are fine for use in cooking, though I’m sure they would be no good to drink.  (I’m sure that others would find fault with this but it works well for us and is a great way to have wine or cider to hand when there are small amounts left after a party.  You don’t always have to drink it up!)

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Somerset Chicken
(Serves 6)

6 large chicken thighs, boned or left whole, with or without skin
   or
6 chicken breasts, with or without skin (as per original recipe – skin left on)
2-3tbsp olive oil
5g butter
2 onions, sliced
4tbsp plain flour
2tbsp grain mustard
2 dessert apples, peeled & chopped small
125g/4ozs button mushrooms, sliced
250ml/9fl ozs chicken stock
300ml/10fl ozs cider
250ml/9fl ozs single cream
1tbsp finely chopped fresh sage leaves – be generous
300g/10½ozs Cheddar cheese, grated
6 baked potatoes

1.  Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6. 

2.  Skin the chicken breasts or thighs, removing the bone and skin if you wish.  Season with salt and black pepper and set to one side.

3.  Place 2tbsp of oil and 10g of butter in a large frying pan and fry the chicken thighs or breasts for 1-2 mins on each side until they start to turn golden brown.

4.  Put them into a deep-sided oven tray and roast for 25 mins until the chicken is cooked through.

5.  Add the remaining oil to the pan, if necessary.  Cook the onions for about 5 mins until they have softened but are not coloured.  

6.  Stir the flour and mustard into the onions and cook gently for another 2 minutes.  Add the chopped apples and mushrooms.  Cook gently for 1 min. 

7.  Add the stock, blend in and bring to the boil stirring until thick before adding the cider.  Bring the sauce back to the boil, lower the heat and gently cook for 5 mins. 

8.  Add the cream and chopped sage.  Continue to cook the sauce for about 5 mins more before checking the seasoning, adding salt and black pepper as necessary.

9.  Preheat the grill to high. 

10.  Remove the chicken from the oven and place in a serving dish, pouring over the sauce so the meat is covered.

11.  Grate the cheese and sprinkle over the chicken.  Grill for 5 mins or until the cheese has melted and is golden and bubbling. 

12.  Serve with jacket potatoes and a green vegetable or salad.

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Fricassée is a French dish and is a stew of chicken or other poultry, but sometimes of other white meat, rabbit, fish or vegetables.  The meat is cooked in a white gravy, or sauce, which includes cream or (in my version) a similar dairy product.  Many versions add vegetables, particularly mushrooms, often with the addition of a little white wine or dry vermouth.  There is, I gather, a Cajun version which is much darker in colour and served, as I do, with rice.  All of this information was discovered when doing a little research for this preamble, having realised I did not really know what Fricassée was.  I am still not especially any the wiser, apart from confirming that I was right about its French origins.  Although there was no mention of using dark meat, I have a particularly good recipe for Lamb Fricassée, which I really must make again and post on this site.

I have been making my version of this recipe, a family favourite and a particularly good way to use up chicken leftovers from a roast dinner (or turkey at Christmas).  Fresh chicken can be used but it should be included earlier in the recipe once the onion and bacon mixture are partly cooked.  I like to add a little bacon to give extra flavour and often add a selection of the vegetables I have to hand, but always include mushrooms and some frozen peas.  I like to make my version as colourful as possible, the vegetables I include and selected to give a good variety of colour as well as balance of flavour.   I consulted a recipe to double check the ingredient list, but in the end made very few modifications to the one given below, which is mostly my original version.   I found a good one in a slim book of chicken recipes found in a charity shop: Pan-Cooked Chicken Dishes (Pub: IMP Ltd – no obvious author) in the Recipes from Around the World series.  I have often seen copies of this book for sale cheaply and wonder if it was originally given away free with a magazine, or similar.   

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Chicken & Bacon Fricassée
(Serves 4)

½oz/10g butter
1tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 stick celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 leek, cut into rings
4ozs/125g mushrooms, button if available – quartered or finely sliced
4ozs/125g diced streaky bacon – smoked or unsmoked
Small glass of white wine – optional (I usually omit this)
1tsp Herbes de Provence
1 bay leaf
Salt & pepper
1tbsp cornflour
150g crème fraîche, soured cream or single cream – or even milk!
8ozs/250g cooked chicken leftovers
   or
12ozs/375g uncooked skinned & boned chicken, cut into strips
Peas, courgette, red pepper (or other colour), sweetcorn – choose 2 or 3
1tbsp lemon juice – optional (for rice)

1.  Melt the butter and olive oil together in a frying pan.  Cut vegetables, apart from leek, into similarly sized pieces so they cook evenly.

2.  Finely chop the onion and gently fry in the covered pan with the garlic, finely chopped carrot, rings of leek, bacon and mushrooms until the onion is transparent and the vegetables have softened.  

3.  Stir in the Herbes de Provence and add the Bay leaf.  If you are using wine it can be added at this point. 

4.  If using fresh chicken add it at this point, stirring well until it starts to change colour.  Put the lid on the pan and cook for 10 minutes.

5.  Add two or three other vegetables – I used peas, diced courgette and diced red pepper. 

6.  Season to taste.  If using pre-cooked chicken cut it into bite sized pieces and add.

7.  Mix (slake) 1tbsp cornflour in a little water and stir into the chicken and vegetable mixture.  Stir well over a low heat until the cornflour mixture thickens the fricassée.

8.  Stir in the crème fraîche, soured cream, single cream or milk and cook through.  It is important that this is done over a low heat otherwise the mixture could curdle. 

9.  Serve on a bed of white rice with a little lemon juice stirred through just before serving.

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This is one of those relatively simple dishes that is ideal if you only want a light meal on a hot summery day, but actually I would be happy to eat at any time of year!  Apart from the time taken to marinade the meat and prepare the kebabs, it is quick to cook in a preheated oven.  Accompany with a portion of boiled Jasmine Rice, plus salad or some peas served on the side, if you wish.  The tomato and chilli sambal is a perfect sauce to accompany to the dish.

Yet again this recipe comes from one of my favourite books: Hot & Spicy Cooking: Exciting Ideas for Delicious Meals with recipes by Judith Ferguson, Lalita Ahmed and Carolyn Garner.   The finished meat was spicy and fragrant but not especially hot.  I used ready made tamarind paste in place of soaking and preparing tamarind pods (although the sourness of lemon juice would give a similar flavour).  Now I know we like the recipe I may see if I can find some Indonesian Soy Sauce, Kekap Manis, but the first time I used a combination of dark soy sauce and dark brown sugar.  The only other change to the recipe was to thread the marinaded meat alternately with cherry tomatoes, cubes of yellow or orange pepper and green pepper or slices of pre-blanched courgette.  This gave extra colour and a healthier dish: anyway I love grilled vegetables in kebabs.   I grilled my skewers of meat but they would be ideal cooked on a barbecue.   A piece of meat and one or two small pieces of vegetable combined on a cocktail stick would also make a good starter or buffet dish. 

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Tamarind Chicken Satay
(Serves 4, 6 if using vegetables as well as meat)

4 chicken breasts, skinned, boned and cut into 1.25cm cubes
Cherry tomatoes, sliced courgette & yellow/orange pepper (optional)
1tbsp sunflower oil
5cm piece tamarind, soaked in 100ml hot water 
   or
2tsp tamarind paste 
   or
Juice of 2 lemons
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1tsp ground cardamom
½tsp ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon kekap manis sweet soy sauce
   or
1tsp dark soy sauce and
½tsp dark brown sugar or jaggery

Tomato & Chilli Sambal
1 red chilli pepper (for less heat remove the seeds and/or reduce the amount/size of chilli)
1 small piece fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed & finely chopped
450g/1lb fresh tomatoes, peeled & seeded
4 tbsps oil
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
Salt & pepper

1.  Put the pieces of chicken in a large bowl. Mix the marinade ingredients together and pour them over the chicken. Stir well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but longer if possible.

2.  Soak the skewers in a bowl of water.  This prevents them from burning: especially important if barbecuing.

3.  Grind the chillis, ginger and garlic together in a food processor or using a pestle and mortar. Chop the tomatoes coarsely, use the food processor if available and blend them into the chili mixture.

4.  Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan.  Fry the tomato mixture for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking.  To prevent sticking, add the lemon or lime juice and a spoonful of water, if the sauce starts to become too thick.

5.  Stir in the sugar and season to taste.

6.  If using vegetables as well as chicken cut each into similarly sized pieces, allowing the same number of pieces for each portion.  If using courgette the pieces need to be blanched: pour over boiling water and leave for 5 minutes, before plunging into cold water or cook for 1-2 minutes in a microwave oven.

7.  Thread the marinated chicken cubes onto thin wooden skewers.  If using vegetables as well then alternate the chicken with the vegetable pieces, using each colour of vegetable in turn.

8.  Brush the threaded kebab with any remaining marinade supplemented with a little extra oil if necessary.

9.  Preheat the grill and cook the chicken gently, turning frequently, until golden brown.  This should take 5-8 minutes.  Continue to brush the chicken with the remaining marinade during cooking.

10.  Serve with Boiled Jasmine Rice.  Peas and salad can be served as an accompaniment but if serving chicken and vegetable skewers a small side salad should suffice.

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I love roast chicken but strangely enough we rarely eat it.  Perhaps it is the knowledge that after the meal is over and the washing up done, there is still a carcass to pick over.  Perhaps it is that, although I know how it ought to be carved, in practice I usually end up with a pile of bits rather than neat slices: tastes good but looks awful.  From time to time however I do buy a chicken, especially as a whole bird is very economical and can be stretched to several meals, so when I saw this delicious sounding recipe I took the plunge.  (Sure enough there were leftovers which became Chicken Fricasee and a Chicken Salad for one, as well as delicious stock made from the remainder of the carcass – plus a few bits for our persistent puss-cat!)  I know I have included a recipe for Roasted Lemon Chicken in the past, but that was for chicken pieces (I usually use thighs) whereas this recipe is for a whole bird and includes spices and a lot of garlic as well, so it is a variation rather than a repeat.  I am sure that it would also be an excellent way to cook individual chicken pieces/thighs.

The recipe comes from Mediterranean Food by Christine France, an excellent charity shop find that originally came from Tesco supermarket.  I have given the original cooking times in the instructions below but all my Sunday Roasts have to fit around going to church (in our case leaving home at around 9.30 and not usually back until well after 1pm, such is vicarage life!)   I have to put any roasting joint in the oven on a much lower heat as I go out, turning the temperature up and (usually) uncovering the meat when we return giving it a final burst of heat before allowing it to stand for a briefly before carving.  Perhaps this is why my meat breaks up, however the flavour is rarely spoiled, just the appearance.

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Aromatic Lemon Roast Chicken

1.25kg/2lb 12ozs Roasting Chicken
1 whole head of garlic
2 lemons
4 cardamom pods
1tsp cumin seeds
4 cloves
2tbsp olive oil
Salt & black pepper
200ml/7 fl ozs chicken stock or water
1tbsp cornflour

1.  Preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4. For the original cooking times follow the instructions at Step 8. 
If cooking in the oven for a longer time, do not preheat the oven.  Follow the instructions in step 9

2.  Cut the garlic head in half horizontally. Cut the lemons into wedges.  Lightly crush the cardamom pods, cumin seeds and cloves in a mortar and pestle. 

3.  Lightly oil the roasting tin to stop the meat from sticking.  Place the half of the garlic with the root end and half of the lemon wedges in the bottom of the tin and sprinkle over the crushed spices.

4.  Check inside the chicken and remove any giblets.  These can be cooked gently in a little water for chicken stock and/or chicken gravy.  Carefully rinse the chicken, running water through the cavity. 

5.  Gently ease the skin on the chicken breast upwards to create a cavity.  It should be easy to put your fingers in at the edge of the neck/chest cavity.  Be careful the skin does not tear.  Push half of the remaining lemon wedges underneath the skin. 

6.  Place the remaining wedges inside the chicken along with the remaining half of the garlic.

7.  Put the chicken, breast side downwards, into a roasting tin.  Rub over the remaining oil and season well.  Add two tablespoonfuls of stock or water.  Cover with a well fitting lid or lightly oiled foil to prevent sticking.

Follow either the cooking instructions at Step 8 (original timings) or Step 9 (longer, slower cooking time – useful when going out)

8.  Cook for one hour at preheated temperature.  Turn the chicken over and baste by spooning the collected juices over the meat to help browning and moistness.  Return to the oven and roast for a further hour, or until cooked.  Remove the lid or cover for the last 30minutes to allow the chicken to brown and crisp, but watch that it does not burn and the tin does not go dry – add a little water or stock if necessary to prevent this.  When it is cooked the juices should run clear when a knife is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.

9.  If leaving this to cook in the oven for a longer period, then set the oven on to 140oC/275oF/Gas 1 when you put the chicken in. After about 2-3 hours take the chicken from the oven, turn it over and baste it well.  Be careful as it can start to break up while being turned.  Increase the heat to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4 and return to the oven, uncovered, for about 30 minutes to allow the chicken to brown and crisp, but watch that it does not burn and the tin does not go dry – add a little water or stock if necessary to prevent this.  When it is cooked the juices should run clear when a knife is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.

10.  Remove the chicken from the tin and allow the meat to rest, uncovered and in a warm place, for about 15 minutes before carving.  (The resting time can be omitted or cut short if necessary, but it does make carving a bit easier and is always recommended for meat.)

11.  While it is resting strain off the chicken juices from the pan, skimming off any excess fat.  This can be reserved for roasting potatoes if you wish and will give a subtle garlic and lemon flavour.  Dissolve the cornflour in a little water and gently combine with the strained juices and the remaining stock or water.  Cook in a pan over a gentle heat stirring all the time until slightly thickened.  Pour this gravy into a jug and keep warm.

12.  Carve meat and serve.  Excess meat can be kept for several days and eaten cold or cooked into other hot dishes.  The carcass can be made into stock along with the giblets if not already used: cover with water and gently cook with added vegetables (carrot, celery and a bay leaf, along with the roasted garlic heads if you wish) – freeze until needed.

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