Pot roasted whole chicken with cannellini beans and potatoes

Chicken and Cannelini Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 tin cannellini beans 
  • 2 onions
  • One whole bulb of garlic, cloves pealed
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 10-15 peppercorns
  • 3-5 sticks cinnamon
  • 3-5 bay leaves
  • 2 Persian dried limes
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • Chicken stock
  • Herbs du Provence
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Method:
Fry the chopped onions and whole garlic cloves in olive oil
Add all the powdered spices and fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the tomatoes, canellini beans, bay leaves, dried limes, peppercorns and cinnamon.
Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
Arrange the chicken and potatoes in the pot and sprinkle with the Herb Du Provence.
Pot roast in the oven on 170c or 150c fan for 2 hours, then remove the lid for 20 mins.
Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Barbecued chicken breasts in a rosemary and garlic marinade…

Barbecued chicken breasts in a rosemary and garlic marinade, served with potato salad and steamed veg tossed in sage butter

Finally a chance to get the barbecue out. It was pretty much nice and cloudless all day, but predictably enough, when I actually pulled the contraption out of the shed a few clouds started to hover over head. However, after a few minutes of staring menacingly into the sky, I managed to persuade them to disperse (I’m not claiming credit for this, it’s merely the way I choose to remember it….)

Luckily though since I’d done all the preparation beforehand, I was able to concentrate all my attention into the tasks of cloud dispersal, and more importantly, firelighting –  and I definitely needed to concentrate on the latter.
I’m no Ray Mears, in fact any prolonged period in the wild would probably see me losing a substantial amount of weight before getting a serviceable fire going, even armed with a box of matches and a pile of tinder.

Anyhow, the first thing I did this afternoon was pop down to the butchers and get a couple of chicken breasts.
I’d decided to butterfly them so as to facilitate more even cooking on the barby, and to marinade them in something non acidic, since anytime I’ve used lemon juice, wine or vinegar for a marinade, it’s tended to dry the meat out more than anything….

So I decided to use rosemary (which we have an abundance of in the garden) and garlic.

Here’s what I did:

The chicken breasts needed to be butterflied. Here they are before:

Unbutterflied chicken breasts

To butterfly them, insert a sharp knife into the thick end, and cut lengthways stopping about 1cm from the edge. Then open them like a book. I decided to also bash them with a tenderizing hammer to even them out more and assure they took on as much marinade as possible.
Here they are butterflied but not bashed yet (hammer at the ready though)…

Butterflied but before bashing

And after being given a jolly good bashing:

After being bashed

Next it was time to prepare the marinade. The plan was to use lots of fresh rosemary and juicy chunky garlic:

Rosemary and garlic

I removed the stalks from the rosemary, and skinned and bashed (with the side of the knife this time) a few cloves of garlic.
Then chopped it all up roughly:

Garlic and rosemary chopped up roughly

Next I placed all the garlic and rosemary into my pestle and mortar, ready to apply some elbow grease:

Put the rosemary into pestle and mortar and apply elbow grease

Apply some more elbow grease….

Apply more elbow grease

Then add a generous few glugs of olive oil into the marinade and apply yet more elbow grease…

Add a generous few glugs of olive oil into the marinade and apply yet more elbow grease...

When the rosemary and garlic has been well ground into the olive oil, apply the marinade generously over both sided of the chicken breasts:

Apply the marinade to the chicken breasts

I then wrapped the breasts up in clingfilm and kept refrigerated for about 4 hours (longer is better if you can):

Wrap chicken breasts in clingfilm and refrigerate

So the chicken breasts were marinading in the fridge.

I then prepared my veg for steaming (just chopped up courgette and broccoli) and made some sage butter (by mashing chopped fresh sage into softened butter) in which to toss the veg before serving, and also prepared some potato salad by just boiling up some Jersey Royals, letting them cool and then mixing them up with some mayonnaise (Hellman’s I’m afraid not home made) and some fresh chopped chives.

Finally it was time to tackle the firelighting task.

As usual, I did my accustomed faffing around with newspaper, matches and firelighters unsuccessfully for about 1 and 1/2 hours before I managed to remember the technique of lighting a successful fire (ie. starting with smaller charcoals, arranging them tactically and tending it constantly), rather than my initial effort of just leaving it to get going of its own accord while I sipped beer. (In my experience thats a romanticized image of a barbecue anyhow…..or maybe I just lack the necessary alpha male skills required… who knows? but I suspect the latter somehow..).

Anyway, finally the barbecue was ready and I unwrapped the chicken, sprinkled each side with salt and placed over the coals.

Place the chicken breasts over the coals (note the rosemary bush in the background)

I kept the chicken on the barby for about 10 mins, turning frequently. I even added a few twigs of rosemary onto the fire so as to add some woody herby smoke flavour…

Cook the chicken for about 10 mins, turning frequently (don't get to close with that iphone camera though..)

Finally, when the chicken was cooked, I squeezed a generous amount of  fresh lemon juice  over both sides, and served, with the potato salad and the veg which had been steamed and tossed briefly in the sage butter…

Serve out with potato salad, and veg tossed in sage butter...

Goose egg!!! (and hens egg) Tortilla (Spanish style omelette)

1 Goose egg and 6 hens eggs

As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I was unashamedly excited the other day when I walked into my butchers to find the last of a batch of freshly laid goose eggs lying on the counter.
Needless to say I snapped it up before you could say  Ovo Branta Canadensis.
The fact that I now had a goose egg in  possession only affirmed my notion that the perfect lunch for a rare British summer’s day such as the one we were experiencing, given the contents of my larder (and now my shopping bag) would in fact be a Spanish style omelette commonly known as Tortilla.
Traditionally the basic version of this is made with sliced potato and egg, but as ever, I decided to embellish (or desecrate, depending on whether you’re a purist or not…) the dish and use a few extra ingredients….

I started off with:

  • A small onion
  • A courgette (or zucchini for the Americans amongst you)
  • Asparagus (or asparagus for the Americans amongst you… about 8 stalks… I’d already started chopping by the way..)
  • 3 small potatoes
  • some cherry tomatoes (I only used about 3 or 4 of these)

Ingredients

And some smoked streaky bacon – about 6 rashers -which I sliced up as you can see below:

Bacon

I sliced the potatoes into 1/2 cm slices and par boiled them for 5-7 mins.
Meanwhile I chopped the rest of the ingredients as below……

Chopped ingredients

I also had at hand a few freshly plucked sage leaves from the garden….

Sage

I then fried the bacon in some olive oil for about 5 mins, until the fat started to crisp…

Fried bacon

When the bacon was cooked, I poured out as much of the fat as possible and drained the bacon on some kitchen towel.

Then I used 2-3 tsps of the rendered fat and olive oil from the bowl above to fry/soften/sweat down the vegetables for about 10 mins..

onion, courgette and asparagus in the pan

Meanwhile I prepared the eggs. I used the goose egg and 6 hen’s eggs. In the pic below, you can see the difference in the size of the yolks.

Goose egg and 4 of the hen's eggs

Beat them up….

Beaten eggs (some eggs were harmed in the making of this picture..)

Next I added the potatoes, tomatoes, chopped sage and bacon to the vegetables that had by now softened up nicely in the pan…

Tater's, 'matos and bacon in't pan

Poured in the eggs… and turned on the grill..

Eggs in

After about 10 minutes I could tell the egg had started to set underneath the top liquid layer. To test for this, gentle shake the pan from side to side, and although the top will wobble and slosh, just below it should look fairly solid…

Starting to set

I then put the pan under a medium grill for about 5 mins to set the top. It came out looking like this, ready to serve.

After being under the grill for 5 mins

Now came the most important maneuver of the whole process: getting the tortilla the right side up on a plate.
Having carefully removed the pan from the grill with a cloth due to the hot handle, I let it cool for a minute, since a clumsy accident at this stage would have resulted in the waste of the industrious efforts of the last 1/2 hour, and a precious goose egg…
Finding a plate which neatly matched the size of the pan, I held it over and upended the whole arrangement.

Luckily, it came out as pictured below:

The tortilla, ready to eat...

It had burnt a bit on the bottom as you can see, but in reality, although not to aesthetically pleasing, the onions and veg had caramelised nicely resulting in a sweet nutty flavour.

Although it’s probably best with a crisp green salad, on this occasion I chose to eat it with two generously buttered sliced of white toast. Any complaints about this can be left in the comments at the end of the post…. 🙂

Tortilla and toast...

A South Indian style pork and potato curry cooked with tomatoes and coconut

I was able to go home over Easter this year. Happily it fell conveniently between two tours. Marlena Shaw UK/Europe tour was the couple of weeks leading up and a few days after the Boy George UK tour started (just getting ready for that one now as I write this after the London dates).

I only made it home for 2 days, but was able to help my mother with the cooking a bit over that time. She normally makes a large chicken biryani, dhal and curry (this time it was a mince and cauliflower curry) for the Easter Sunday family meal. On the Saturday I insisted on cooking to give mum a break, so I just had a look what was in, and improvised. Here’s what I came up with. Was nice, although quite spicy. I like the different types of heat that dried red chillies and green chillies bring to the dish. More of a smokey flavour from the red, and a fresher one from the green.

You could easily adjust the amount of chillies for a milder version.

Ingredients:

  • 750g diced pork
  • 3 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 4-5 small dried red chillis
  • 15-20 curry leaves
  • 3 medium onions sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 inch pce ginger chopped
  • 4 green chillis chopped
  • 3 tsps ground coriander
  • 1tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinammon powder
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Salt
  • 2 tins tomatoes
  • 1/2 inch pce of creamed coconut dissolved in 1 cup of water
  • Juice of 1 lemon


Method:

Heat up some oil in a large pot.

When very hot throw in the mustard seeds and dried red chillis. Fry for 10-20 secs (the mustard seeds should pop and spit if the oil is hot enough. Also you may cough because of the chillis).

Throw in the curry leaves and fry for a further 10-20 secs.

Add the onions, garlic, ginger and green chillies.

Turn the heat down to medium and fry until onions and are soft.

Then add the pork and fry until it had lost it’s raw appearance as below.

Now is the time to add the masalas (ground coriander, cumin, tumeric, cinammon, mustard powder, black pepper).

Fry them round, keeping them moving so as not to burn, for about 2-3 mins until the dish appears as below:

Next add the tomatoes, potatoes and the coconut and bring to a simmer.

I left it simmering with the lid on for about 40 mins, then removed the lid and checked for and added salt.

If potatoes are cooked in a sauce after adding salt, they tend to have the effect of removing some of the saltiness, so I always add salt after the potatoes have had a chance to cook so as not to add to much.

I then added to frozen peas, and left it simmering with the lid off while I cooked the rice. Adding the peas towards the end of the cooking in this way means that they still retain a lot of flavour and juiciness of their own when served.

After the rice was cooked, I squeezed the juice of the whole lemon in, briefly brought back to a simmer, and served straight away.