A not so good picture for a great dish.
- 100ml pernod (or other anisaldehyde licor)
- 4 tbs olive oil
- 3 tbs lemon juice
- 3 tbs orange juice
- 2 tsp grain mustard
- 2 tbs brown sugar
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, sliced into wedges
- 1 free range chicken, divided into 8 (see here for help)
- 3 mandarins, unpeeled, sliced horizontally into 1 cm slices
- a good few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- salt and pepper
In a dish combine the first 6 ingredients and mix well. Add the chicken, fennel, mandarins and thyme and let marinate for a few hours. If you’re not super organised (which I wasn’t) you can skip the marinating and just jump straight into the cooking.
Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Transfer the chicken, fennel and all its marinade into an oven proof roasting tray large enough for everything to sit in a single layer. Making sure the chicken is skin side up. Place the tray in the oven and roast for 35-45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked, and its skin is crispy and golden.
This has become one of my favourite dishes to take work for lunch. It is easy to make, healthy and very convenient to eat. It is also comforting… It is probably miles away from the real thing, but it still tastes good enough to pass every foodie standard of deliciousness.
Sweet and sour chicken (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
- 1 x 425g/15oz can pineapple chunks in natural juice
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp soft light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 medium onion, cut into 12 wedges
- 2 peppers, red, green, orange or yellow, deseeded and cut into chunks of about 3cm/1¼in
- 100g of Brazil nuts
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 25g/1oz piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
- freshly ground black pepper
To make the sauce, drain the pineapple in a sieve over a bowl and keep all the juice – you should have about 150ml/5fl oz. Put the cornflour in a large bowl and stir in three tablespoons of the pineapple juice to make a smooth paste. Add the remaining juice and 150ml/5fl oz water, then stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ketchup and chilli flakes until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
Cut each chicken breast into eight or nine even pieces. Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wok and stir-fry the onion and peppers for two minutes over a high heat. Drain the water chestnuts and cut them in half horizontally.
Add the remaining oil and the chicken to the pan and stir-fry for two minutes until coloured on all sides. Add the garlic, ginger, pineapple chunks and water chestnuts and stir-fry for 30–60 seconds.
Give the cornflour and pineapple mixture a good stir and add it to the pan with the chicken and vegetables. Stir well, season with some ground black pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook for 4–6 minutes until the sauce is thickened and glossy and the chicken is tender and cooked throughout, turning the chicken and vegetables a few times. Serve with a small portion of rice.
In short, this is such a good chicken pie, it is totally worthwhile to endure cooking process. It is arguably one of the best I have ever had. It is hard to believe this dish actually start from, God forgive, leftovers…
A few shortcuts, though: I used pre-made pastry. I know – home made pastry is not that hard to do. But, I didn’t feel brave enough for it… and, the one in the supermarket is also perfectly fine for this purpose… If you don’t have any chicken leftovers, and need to cook it from scratch, add some herbs and vegetables when boiling it (this recipe work just fine). Everything else is so tasty, it is a crying shame to put in some bland rubbery chicken.
2 sheets of basic pie pastry
Chicken Pie Filling
- 1 cup of potatoes cut in about 6cm pieces
- 1 1/4 of carrots cut diagonally in 6cm pieces
- 12 white pearl onions
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 24 black peppercorns
- 1 1/4 cups of 4-6cm of pieces of celery, cut on the diagonally
- 2 cups of shredded cooked chicken
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 3 cups of whole milk
- 1 salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
- Pinch of cayenne
- 1 egg, beaten
Roll out the dough and line the baking tray with one of the sheets. Put the other one a plate. Refrigerate both.
Place the potatoes, carrots and onions in a saucepan with the bay, thyme and peppercorns. Top with cold water to cover. Gently bring to a simmer. Cook until just tender, about 8-10min (the original recipe asked for each vegetable to cooked in individual pans, but I just put everything together in the same one). Once cooked, drain the water and discard bay, thyme, and peppercorns. Cut the onions in 2 and set aside to cool.
Blanch the celery for just over a minute in a large pot of boiling salted water, until they are tender/crispy. Drain and let it cool in a bowl of iced water. Set aside with the other vegetables
You can now start the béchamel. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed so the mixture does not brown. Whisk in the milk, lower the heat to keep the bechamel at a gentle simmer, and cook, whisking ofter to ensure it doesn’t burn. It should take about 30-40minutes until the sauce has thickened and reduced to about 2 cups. Season to taste with salt, pepper, parsley, thyme, and cayenne.
Put the oven racks in the lower third and center of the oven and preheat the oven to 190 oC (about 375oF).
Remove the pastry sheets rom the refrigerator. Scatter the vegetables and chicken into the pie shell. Pour the béchamel over them. Moisten the rim of pie shell with some of the beaten egg. Cover the filling with the top crust and press the edges of the dough together to seal. Trim away the excess dough that overhangs the rim. Brush the top crust with the egg. Cut a small vent in the center of the dough with the tip of a paring knife to allow the steam to escape.
Bake on the lower oven rack until the crust is a rich golden brown, 50 minutes to 1 hour. If necessary, move the pie to the centre rack during the last 10 minutes of baking to brown the crust. On the other hand, if crust is browning too quickly, cover with aluminium foil.
Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 10 minutes.
Everyday food with low calories… Not sure why Hairy Dieters claim this is a Spanish style, though. Probably is the chorizo and the roasted garlic… In any case, it is cheap and cheerful with delicious flavours, from the sweetness of the baked onion to the spiciness of the chorizo.
Baked chicken with chorizo and roasted vegetables (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
- 1 medium onion, cut in 8 wedges
- 1 medium red onion, cut in 8 wedges
- 500g new potatoes, quartered lenghways
- 8 whole garlic, unpeeled
- 8 medium tomatoes, quartered
- 75g chorizo, preferably hot and spicy
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken tights
- ½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 green pepper, deseed and cut into strips
- salt and pepper
Pre heat the oven to 200oC. Put the onions, potatoes, garlic and tomatoes in a large roasting tin and season with salt and lots of freshly grounded black pepper. Toss everything together lightly and roast for 20min
While the vegetables are roasting, skin the chorizo and cut the meat into thin slices. Put the chickens on a board and carefully slash each one 2 or 3 times with a knife. Season all over with black pepper. Mix the paprika and oregano together and set aside.
Take the roasting tin out of the oven, scatter the chorizo over the vegetables and turn everything a couple of times. Place the chicken on the top of the vegetables and chorizo and sprinkle with paprika and oregano. Return to the oven and adjust the temperature to 220oC. Leave in the oven for another 20min, or until the chicken is golden and crisp. Every now and again, take the tin out of the oven drizzle the juices over the chicken. As you eat, squeeze the garlic out of the skins.
I have promised not to complaint about the weather on Facebook and extended the ban to all other social media outlets I normally hang out. In here, I shall just carry on posting Winter-appropriate dishes until the weather gets finally better, as a sign of protest. It is a good thing I have plenty of unpublished dishes, as it might be a while before we can move to lighter food… This casserole dish says comfort food all over – it is delicious, filling and feels like something my Mother could have done for Sunday lunch. What else would you want to eat while the snow is slowly pilling outside?
Chicken casserole (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 4 chicken thighs, skinned and cut in half
- 2 tsp of olive oil
- 4 smoked bacon stripes, fat cut off and cut cut into 1cm-wide bits
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
- 150g of button mushrooms sliced
- 500mL dry cider
- 300mL low fat chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 large carrots, cut into 2cm slices
- 1 large leek, cut into 2cm slices
- salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 180c/Fan 160c/Gas 4
Mix the flour and the thyme with a good pinch of salt and pepper into a large freezer bag or bowl. Place chicken into the bag, a few pieces at a time and shake until evenly coated. Reserve the left over flour.
Heat oil in a non stick frying pan until is piping hot. Add the chicken a few pieces at a time and let it fry until golden brown (saving any remaining flour in bag). Transfer to heat proof casserole, like a le creuset or equivalent.
In the same frying pan you used for the chicken, put the bacon, onions and celery . Sauté for 4-5 mins until lightly browned, stirring often. Add the mushrooms to the frying pan and cook for 2 more min. Tip everything into the casserole with the chicken pieces. Sprinkle with the reserved flour.
Pour half the cider to frying pan and stir well to deglaze and remove all the sediments. Simmer for a few seconds, and add to the casserole. Finally, drop in the remaining cider, the stock, carrots and bay leaves.
Cover with the lid and place in the center of the oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and add in the leeks.
Return to the stove and let it cook for about half hour, until the leeks are soft.
An impromptu diner lead to a seriously good roasted chicken – my
poor suffering testers guests still talk about it. For bonus points, combine it with roasted potatoes, onions and romesco sauce.
Roasted chicken (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)
Ingredients (6-8 persons)
- 4-6 bay leaves
- 40 g dried rosemary
- 15g dried thyme
- Black pepper corns to tast (about 1 tablespoon)
- Olive oil as needed to brush the chicken
- A total of bout 4 kg whole chickens (I ended up with 3 chickens)
- 3 lemons (1 per chicken)
- 6 unpeeled garlic cloves (2 per chicken)
- 200 mL white wine
Preheat the oven to 220 oC.
Start the herb crust: put in a small blender the bay, rosemary, thyme and peppers. Process until you have a very fine powder.
Prepare the chicken to be roasted – wash, cut the tips of the wings and tail. Season with salt and pepper inside and outside.
Put the chicken on a roasting tray lined some olive oil, breast up. Brush the chicken with olive oil and finely great the lemon zest over it. Stuff it with 1 lemon cut in pieces and 2 garlic cloves.
Roast the chicken, breast up. After 25min, turn it around and let it roast for another 35min, or until golden and cooked through.
Remove the chicken and set aside covered with foil.
Poor the white wine and the water in the cooking tray to deglaze and remove all the sediments.
Collect all the cooking juices in a small pan and put on high heat. Boil the cooking juices until you have a gravy.
Carve the chicken and serve it with the gravy
It seemed like a good idea to cook this dish for the 10th anniversary of my doctoral exam. It is almost finger food, it is somehow Spanish and its recipe seemed straightforward enough. For an extra touch of nerdiness, I could even use the same species of mushrooms I used for my PhD (Pleurotus eryingii, if you really must know).
Then, I realized the recipe called for 30 (thirty) garlic cloves for 6 persons. Cook for twelve, and you’ll end up with 60 (sixty) of them to peel and slice. I.e. at an average of 10 cloves per head, 6 garlic bulbs. Or, if you want to be very precise, at an average of 90g per bulb, about 540g of garlic to slice. In total, it was a 1h long operation that left me with tears in the eyes, redness in the fingers and the taste of garlic in the back of my throat. Needless is to say that after that I just had to had a shower before I find myself ready to face the company of civilized people. It took a good couple of weeks until I felt the need of using garlic, either in major or minor proportions.
At some point, I was getting concerned this dish would actually work. For more drama, after having seen a big bowl of garlic being poured into the concoction, my
suffering testers dinner guests were showing an increasing preoccupation about its palatability. It was a wasted worry. It was indeed a delicious dish. A bit garlicky, but far to be the garlic overdose some catastrophists had anticipated. The white wine just cuts the grease, the thyme added some freshness to it, the chicken wings get soft and tender… Perfection on a small dish cooked with humble ingredients.
Chicken wings with mushrooms (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)
Ingredients (for 6)
- 18 chicken wings, tips removed and cut in half through the joint
- 100mL olive oil
- 360g of mushrooms, sliced (it can be button mushrooms, chanterelles, shitake, Pleurotus, all the above, other that is on season. On this occasion, I just got a mixed bag from my local supermarket).
- 30 (thirty) garlic cloves roughly sliced
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 3 fresh thyme springs, leaves pulled out
- 180mL white wine
- 150mL water
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Season the half chicken wings with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan until it is hot and add the chicken wings. Cook them gently for about 30min, turning regularly.
3. When the chicken wings are evenly browned, drop in the garlic and cook for 5 more minutes.
4. Add the bay leaves and the thyme and mix.
5. Poor in the white wine, and turn up the heat and let it simmer until the wine has reduced a little.
6. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes until they are well incorporated with the meat, garlic and herbs.
7. Poor in the water and let it simmer until it has evaporated and the mushrooms are soft.