Chicken (or turkey) & ginger on spinach:

Chicken (or turkey) & ginger on spinach:

Prep:           2 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Main

Serves:         2

Rating:         3:  Moderate

This is a steam/stir-fry dish.       The steam/stir-fry is a bit of a cheat (well, there’s a surprise), in that you let the poultry cook in its own steam whilst you get on with something else (probably down the pub or trying to get your wicked way with the opposite-sex) before you do the stir-fry bit.  Clever, eh?    

However, it’s actually a good way of saving a bit of energy, as while the pan is turned off but hot, using the accumulated heat inside the lidded pan, it’s not costing you any money in gas/electric/coal/wood/peat/horse dung…

Find for two people:

  • 2 chicken breasts or Turkey breast fillets or slices
  • 2” (5cm) fresh ginger root, peeled & finely grated
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 fresh carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Half a conventional red/yellow/orange pepper (a bell pepper/capsicum)
  • Packet of fresh baby spinach leaves – or even freshly picked new crop spinach cadged from your neighbour’s allotment (remember always to be around the allotment when there is a glut of anything fresh – you can do them a favour by using it – saves it going to waste)
  • A knob of butter
  • Frying pan with lid
  • Colander
  • Saucepan

Method:

  • Peel the red onion, cutting, not chopping, into rustic sized bits, peel and slice the carrots into half inch (15mm) long chunks as this is a chunky-type dish.
  • Throw those into a hot frying pan (with lid, but don’t use the lid yet……) with some olive/groundnut/vegetable/sunflower oil and turn down the heat to a gentle warming. Let the contents fry, but not aggressively, for about ten minutes or so.  They must not burn.  You are ensuring that the carrots will be cooked and the onions nice’n’soft.
  • Wash the spinach leaves in the colander and let them drain.
  • Cut up the chicken/turkey breast into big chunks (a size just about manageable to eat with a fork – according to size of mouth), cutting the pepper into long thin strips.
  • Cut/peel the outer skin from the root ginger and grate most of it finely. Some ginger can be sliced into thin slices, and then cut the slices into very thin strips, like the pepper (Julienne).
  • Peel the garlic (see Tricks’n’Tips for the easy way…).
  • Throw all this into the pan and stir around for a mo. Turn up the heat and fry the chicken/turkey until just starting to show signs of browning.  Don’t allow the garlic to start to burn at all – it turns bitter.
  • Put in a quarter of a cup of boiling water from the kettle, bring to the boil and put on the lid. Turn off the heat.
  • Let it sit there and cook whilst you do something more interesting for a while (20 mins +, or on your return from the pub).
  • When you get around to thinking about cooking again, put strong heat under the frying pan until the water has just boiled away, turning it down to a medium heat for the stir-fry stage.
  • Stir-fry the meat mixture in the frying pan for a few minutes and, at the same time, pop a knob of butter into another saucepan and put onto a gentle heat (yes, you can do ‘do-it-at-the-same-time’ cooking).
  • Put the baby spinach leaves into the saucepan and stir them about a bit. Yes, they will all fit – spinach just vanishes like the pound in your wallet as it wilts.                                                                               Put more in, you’ll need it.  Come on….  
  • You’ll see that it just reduces down to a lovely lush, dark green veg… oooooh, wonderful. The buttery liquid produced in the spinach saucepan (give the spinach a good squeeeeeeeze) should be drained into the meat mixture and stirred in.  Ready to plate up?
  • So, put a dollop of the lovely spinach in the middle of the plate and serve the meat mixture onto it, allowing it to spill over onto one side of the plate so that the spinach bed is still quite visible. Just for prettiness.

Now, just you make sure that you do the washing up straight after you’ve finished the eatin’ of it.  Yes?

Cheep Chicken/Turkey Casserole 2: (Peasant’s Poultry Pot)

Cheep Chicken/Turkey Casserole 2:  (Peasant’s Poultry Pot)

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      2 hrs.

Course:        Main

Serves:        See text

Rating:         3:  Moderate

Find:

  • Cheap chicken quarters, one per person + one extra

( Ah yes, now this is quite sensible advice – if you are making this using turkey, don’t buy one quarter of a turkey for each person…… use turkey thighs instead – just thought I’d better say, otherwise you might find that you’ve over-catered; just slightly).

  • A couple or more red onions (or onions of any other colour, should you wish…. Found any blue ones?)
  • Garlic – probably about one clove per person.
  • A cheap can of tomatoes, or two if making the meal for 4 people +.
  • Mixed herbs (Provencal if possible)
  • A tablespoonful of flour
  • Oven tin
  • Saucepan
  • Oven dish

You’ll need one cheap chicken quarter per person, plus one extra, so for four people use five quarters.  You can actually use turkey instead, or even make a combined chicken & turkey casserole.  Turkey drumsticks are quite cheap, but they do need a bit more preparation (see Tricks’n’Tips for how to deal with a turkey drumstick) as they have an amount of stiff bone-like bits to deal with after it has been oven-cooked.

 

Method:

  • No need to do anything to the meat before popping the quarters/turkey legs into a deep oven tin, they’ll get all the attention they need when they’ve been cooked for the first time.
  • Drizzle the meat with a little water and oil (don’t drown them) and oven-cook for about 45 minutes on gas 4-5, just checking occasionally that they’re not burning. They should roast nicely, producing their own juices.
  • Get them out of the oven and put them onto a cold plate to cool. It may help to speed the cooling process by pulling them apart using two forks back to back and levering apart…….

(oh yes, and you can use this same method in the garden when dividing the rootballs of perennial plants in the winter to propagate more plants and make your garden all nice and summery, in the summer – when else? – but you don’t use table forks for that job, ‘cos they’d bend; you’d have to use two use garden forks…… er  ……  I think that I’m digressing again; I can see the glazed look in your eyes….ooops)

  • ………or simply pulling some bones out, generally allowing the heat to escape.
  • While they are cooking or cooling off (depending on how urgent the meal is – and how organised you are) you should prepare the veggie bits for the casserole.
  • Peel the onions (see Tricks’n’Tips) and slice, not chop them to leave large chunks.
  • Peel the garlic, crushing slightly with a wide bladed knife to aid skin removal, and chop finely.
  • In a pot or casserole dish suitable for use on the hob as well as in the oven (Le Creuset, or similar) start to soften the red onions in about a tablespoon (a good glug) of olive oil over a medium flame.
  • Peel the carrots cutting them into inch-long chunks and throwing them in with the onions to cook gently for about five minutes.
  • Add the flour and mix to make a roux to thicken the dish.
  • Turn up the heat, open a cheap (supermarket ‘Value’) can of tomatoes and pop them into the pan before it gets too hot, just squashing the whole ones so that they cook down in the oven.
  • Add a few good pinches of Mick’s Terbs (see Tricks’n’Tips) and give it all a good stir. If you have any, add a good and generous dollop of tomato puree (see Tricks’n’Tips) from a jar or a good long squeeze from a tube.
  • Pull the flesh from the chicken bones with your best-washed fingers. If it doesn’t pull off, it’s either bone or something else grotty.  You can put in all of the flesh straight into the pot, as long as you don’t include the skin or anything like the cartilage from the ends of the bones.  Certainly salvage the brown messy bit found next to the chicken backbone as it flavours the casserole beautifully.  Try to keep the flesh in quite large chunks.
  • If you are using turkey instead as or as well as the chicken, pull the flesh off the drumstick whilst feeling carefully for the stiff bone-like bits that are to be found within the flesh. Pull these stiff bits off the ends of the muscles they are connected to – they will come away if you do each one in turn.  You might prefer to use a knife but it really is best to pull it away.  You do not want to discover these bits in the final casserole, believe me.  Go on; get yer ‘ands mucky
  • Give it all a good stir, perhaps adding just a little water or even left over wine of whatever colour to almost cover the contents of the pot. You don’t want too much fluid.  If you have the stock jelly from a cup you’ve poured unwanted fat into previously (see Tricks’n’Tips), now is the time to stir that in too.  Don’t add any salt yet as you might overdo it.  Try it later.
  • The oven is already hot, so cover the pot and put it in at about gas mark 5 for an hour. Don’t worry about it, disturb it, check it or otherwise concern yourself.  It’ll just sit there cooking nicely.  Look after your guests as they arrive – they’ll wonder how you’ve managed to be so dammed organised – as long as the house is clean and tidy.              It is, isn’t it?
  • After the hour has passed, give it a good stir with a wooden spoon and taste the liquid with a teaspoon (remembering that each taste you make needs a fresh spoon, as you don’t want to put the spoon you’ve just put into your gob straight back into the pot, do you?) If you wish, you can add a chicken stock cube or a veggie one, or both if the pot is for a number of people or just add salt.

Remember that stock cubes normally contain salt, so only add salt after you’ve finished with the stock cubes and tasted it to see if further seasoning is necessary. 

  • Whatever you do, don’t forget to add good ground black pepper as this will bring flavours to the fore and add life.
  • After you’ve cleaned the outside of the pot with a damp bit of kitchen roll, give the pot a little time on the hob, just simmering on the lowest of low heat whilst your guests seat themselves and then take off the lid and put it on a heatproof mat in the middle of the table.
  • Serve with roast veg, new spuds with their coats on, baked spuds in their jackets…. whatever you like.

Just enjoy, sit there and modestly accept the praise that will come your way:  “Oh this? . . ..It’s just something I threw together today…”

Dragon’s Chicken & Tomato Casserole 1:

Dragon’s Chicken & Tomato Casserole 1:

Dragon?  Yes, my Dragon (my mother-in-Law) used to do this dish quite often, and it is with great respect that I name it after her.  She’s no longer with us and in the last few years, sadly fell foul of Altzheimer’s.  However, she’ll always be remembered for her generosity of mind and determined attitude.  Best Dragon I ever ‘ad! (I only had 2, but….)

PICTURE 19

 Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      60 mins. +

Course:        Main

Serves:        4

Rating:        2: Easy

Find:

  • 4 chicken leg quarters
  • Tin chopped tomatoes
  • Chicken stock cube.
  • A little wine if you have it
  • Flour
  • Seasoning
  • Oven dish

Method:

  • Prepare the chicken in the flour as in Fried Pepper Chicken.
  • Put the four pieces into the oven dish and pour on the can of chopped tomatoes, rinsing out the can with about half a can more and putting that in with the chicken stock cube.
  • Cover with foil and put into a pre-heated oven at gas mk 4 for around an hour or more.  2 hours would be fine. Check that the chicken has cooked through.
  • Serve with anything you like, but a good super-smooth mash works well with it, especially if you do a nice herb mash (see Tricks’n’Tips).

Fried Pepper Chicken Pieces:

Fried Pepper Chicken Pieces:

PICTURE 18

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      20 mins  + .

Course:        Main

Serves:        4

Rating:         3:  Moderate – but you do need to ensure that the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Find:

  • 4 chicken portions – normally leg quarters
  • Flour
  • Seasoning – you could use black/green/red peppercorns cracked in a pestle & mortar
  • Oil
  • Frying pan

Method:

  • Trim the fat and loose skin from the edges and underneath.
  • Split the skin between the thigh and what would be the body of the chicken if it was a whole chicken – but of course it’s not – and pour a little oil in the gap.
  • Mix a little flour, a good amount of ground black pepper (no, don’t skimp with the pepper….. more than that…. It is pepper chicken after all….) and a little salt in a mug, mix well and turn out onto a plate.
  • Roll the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour ensuring that they are fully coated all over – back and front.
  • Heat a frying pan, add a little oil and put the chicken in.
  • Keep the frying pan on quite a low heat for 20 minutes, turning the chicken over every five, basting it occasionally with the juices from the pan. You can keep an eye on the pan to avoid it burning as you will be doing the veg whilst the chicken is cooking.
  • Inspect the chicken to see if there is any evidence of red at all in the joints. If so, cook a little longer – chicken has to be thoroughly cooked through.  If in any doubt, pop it into the microwave for 1 or 2 minutes to make sure; you must not serve chicken meat that is still red.
  • Serve with chips and a nice light chicken gravy!

Fried Mustard Chicken Pieces:

Fried Mustard Chicken Pieces:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      20 mins  + .

Course:        Main

Serves:        4

Rating:         3:  Moderate – but you do need to ensure that the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Find:

  • 4 chicken portions – normally leg quarters
  • Whole grain mustard
  • Oil
  • Seasoning
  • Pastry brush if you have one – if not, use a clean finger
  • Frying pan

Method:

  • Trim the fat and loose skin from the edges and underneath.
  • Split the skin between the thigh and the body of the chicken and pour a little oil in the gap.
  • Mix a little oil and a dollop of whole grain mustard in a mug and paint the skin and the underside of the chicken with the mixture.
  • Heat a frying pan, add a little oil and put the chicken in.
  • Keep the frying pan on quite a low heat for 20 minutes, turning the chicken over every five, basting it occasionally with the juices from the pan. You can keep an eye on the pan to avoid it burning as you will be doing the veg whilst the chicken is cooking.
  • After 20 mins, Inspect the chicken to see if there is any evidence of red at all in the joints. If so, cook a little longer – chicken has to be thoroughly cooked through.  If in any doubt, pop it into the microwave for 2 minutes to make sure.
  • Serve with mash & veg?

Turkey & Mushroom Pie:

Photo:  Chris Wiles Photgraphy

Turkey & Mushroom Pie:

 (Could use chicken, but then it would be chicken & mushroom pie……..  I used a mixture, so that was Churkey & Mushroom Pie!)

Prep:           20 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins, plus any cooking of the turkey/chicken

Course:        Main

Serves:        6-8

Rating:         3:  Moderate

This is a great way to use up Xmas turkey – a good New Year’s recipe.    A pie needs a lid.    A lid is normally puff pastry.    Don’t be put off by that pastry thing, as you can buy chilled, ready-made, ready rolled-up puff pastry.  Don’t try making your own because it simply is not worth the time, cost or the effort.  Life’s too short to make pastry!

Find:

  • Pack of ready-made puff-pastry from your supermarket chiller (it may be in a block – or even better, in a rolled-up sheet)
  • 500g turkey pieces – could be turkey breast or thigh meat. Alternatively, use chicken thighs.  If the meat is uncooked, cook it before putting it in the pie – see the method.
  • Onion or two
  • Can of Bachelors/Campbell’s condensed cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
  • If you can cadge ‘em from somewhere, a dozen capers (optional, but they do make it nicer…. Make it two dozen)
  • 500g mushrooms
  • Egg or milk as a surface wash for the pastry
  • Rolling pin (see Tricks’n’Tips for how to roll out pastry, and how to use a lemonade bottle instead of a rolling pin – not necessary if you use rolled-up pastry!)
  • Oven dish
  • Frying pan

Method:

  • If the turkey/chicken is not already cooked, oven-cook (180 C) it under foil or a lid in a little oil and tablespoon of seasoned water for 40-50 mins.
  • Cool and remove the meat from the bones (see Tricks’n’Tips for the best way to remove the meat from a turkey drumstick).
  • Heat a little oil in the frying pan and add coarsely chopped onion then the cooked meat, the contents of the soup can (remember to rinse it out using a very tiny amount of water and pop that in too) and the capers (squashed with a fork) as well.
  • Wipe the mushrooms if dirty, then slice them and pop them into the meat mixture. Mix it all up.  (Never wash mushrooms)
  • Season to taste. Pour it all into the oven dish.

How to deal with a block of ready-made pastry: 

  • Firstly, clean the surface on which you intend to do your rolling-out. Remember that you are going to eat the stuff that you are about to spread and slide all over this surface, so make the surface really clean – and remember, also, that you don’t want to taste the cleaner you’ve used either – so make sure it’s dried well too.  You could use a plastic pastry rolling-out sheet if you had one.  Don’t worry, the cleaned surface is fine.
  • Sprinkle a little flour onto the beautifully cleaned, now dry surface that you intend to roll out onto, place the block of read-made pastry in the centre, sprinkling a little more flour on top.
  • Use a rolling pin (or a lemonade bottle devoid of label, glue and muck; shaken up to full pressure so that it is hard – we used to use a milk bottle years ago) to exert a light pressure on the pastry as it rolls over. This will make it expand away from you.
  • Lift the pastry, turn it though 90 degrees and turn it over and roll again. This will roll it out the other way, again away from you, ensuring that the rolling out is even.  Lift, turn, turn over again, sprinkle more flour and carry on doing this until the pastry is about 8mm thick.  It should be far larger than your oven dish by now – don’t worry about it.
  • Put the rolling pin on the pastry and roll it all up ONTO the rolling pin to transport it to the oven dish – and unroll it into position.

Of course, if you have bought ready rolled-out pastry in a roll, all of the above has already been done for you!

  • Use a knife to slice the excess pastry from around the edges of the oven dish and roll the excess into a ball.

(The excess pastry can be pressed into a ball, wrapped in cling film and popped into the freezer, ready for use in something else later).

  • Press a fork lightly all around the edges, sealing the lid to the side of the oven dish. CAUTION!….The contents will heat up and cause pressure to rise in the dish, so use the knife or scissors to cut or snip a couple of air vents in the pastry.
  • Either milk-wash the surface of the puff-pastry using a pastry brush if you have one (use a clean finger if you have not) or beat an egg in a mug and wash with that. Milk costs less but doesn’t look quite so good.
  • Put the oven dish on an oven tray to catch the overspill (saves cleaning the oven).
  • Oven bake for 30 mins around gas Mk 5 or until the lid looks good enough to eat – ‘cos it is.
  • Serve with whatever you fancy – it suits spuds and veg to my mind. If you want to have it with flied lice, it’s your choice!

Popcorn Chicken:

Popcorn Chicken:

Ah!   Now this is DIFFERENT

You MUST certainly read the whole recipe before you embark on this journey……

 

I received this rather unusual recipe by email from a friend who is not known for her prowess in the kitchen, so I was more than a little surprised when it arrived.       A different roast chicken recipe with amazing results:       Thank you, Janet.  I have reproduced it just as you sent it to me.

(You should know at this point that I have not yet actually tested this recipe;…..I really must try it out when can I summon up the courage.…..)

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      For duration in the oven, see method.

Course:        Main

Serves:         2-4   (If they are good at cricket or baseball)

Rating:         2:  Easy (Well, it must be easy if this friend says it is………..!)

A chicken recipe that uses popcorn?        This is what she sent to me:

When I found this recipe, I thought it was perfect for people like me, who are not sure how to tell when poultry is thoroughly cooked, but not dried out.

Give this a try.

Find:

  • 1 chicken of whatever size you wish, to feed 4
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup Popcorn (unpopped)
  • 1 cup stuffing
  • Seasoning

METHOD:

  • Preheat oven to 220 degrees.
  • Brush chicken well with melted butter, salt and pepper.
  • Fill cavity with stuffing mixed with the popcorn.
  • Place in baking pan with the neck end toward the back of the oven. Close the door.  (This is starting to sound suspicious…..)
  • Listen for the popping sounds.
  • When the chicken’s arse blows the oven door open and the chicken flies across the room and lands on the table, it’s done and ready to eat.
  • Serve with pride!

And you thought I couldn’t cook ……..!

 

Hmmmmm…. Perhaps I was wrong to include this recipe?

Ham stuffed Chicken breast:

Ham stuffed Chicken breast:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Main

Serves:         2

Rating:         2:  Easy

As the ‘Goat’s cheese stuffed……..’, but use ham and a little Philly cheese just to keep it moist.

Goat’s cheese stuffed Chicken breast:

Goat’s cheese stuffed Chicken breast:

PICTURE 16

Chicken breast stuffed with anything at all uses the same method, so if you wanted chicken breast stuffed with Politician, you’d use the same process…. Oh, hang on, no.  Politician would be far too bitter – well, they always leave a sour taste in my mouth…. Let’s try again.

Chicken breast stuffed with anything at all uses the same method, so if you wanted chicken breast stuffed with salami, goat’s cheese, preserved lemons…… well, it’s the same method.   So, please consider this to be an object lesson on getting stuffed

(Especially for politicians, solicitors and estate agents.)

Prep:           15 mins.

Cooking:      40 mins.

Course:        Main

Serves:         2

Rating:         2:  Easy

Actually…. There are three methods; but let’s not fall out over it.

Find:

  • 2 chicken breasts – I’ll let you agonise over whether you use free-range, light barn, deep litter or whatever animal welfare, freedom food or similar scheme you prefer or choose. I applaud what the TV chefs are doing; it’s just a pity that everything that they go for seems to push prices up.
  • Goat’s cheese
  • Seasonings
  • Mick’s Terbs
  • Oven dish
  • For method two: Cling film
  • For method two: Rolling pin or meat mallet (or, at a push, an empty lemonade/beer bottle with the label removed and thoroughly washed and dried)
  • For method 3: Rashers of bacon or pancetta

Method 1:

  • Using a sharp cook’s knife (that is a cook’s sharp knife, rather than the knife of a sharp cook) slice the chicken breast almost right through horizontally, to open up like a book.
  • Season lightly and then spread the goat’s cheese across one ‘page’.
  • Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil onto the cheese, sprinkle a few crystals of sea salt over the top, some dried (or even FRESH) thyme and close.
  • Rub a little olive oil into the surfaces of the chicken and place in a greased oven dish.
  • Splash a little water into the dish, then sprinkle more dried thyme and either cover with foil, or not (it’s your choice as to whether you cover it; covering will make them more succulent, but leaving it uncovered will brown them) and put into a pre-heated oven at gas mk 4 for 30 minutes.

Method 2:

  • Instead of slicing the chicken breast, put it between two pieces of cling film and gently beat it flat. The lack of connective tissue in chicken meat means that you don’t need to beat it within an inch of its life (actually, our dear chucky is already deceased), only to gently clout it flat.
  • Take it from its cling film home and lay the cheese, etc, on top, rolling it up into a…… a roll, or parcelling it up from the corners to the centre.
  • Cook as method 1.

Method 3:

  • As method 1 or 2, but wrap the chicken breast in bacon or pancetta just before going into the oven.

All methods:

  • Serve with veg, spuds, rice…… whatever sails your boat.

Cajun Chicken:

Cajun Chicken: 

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      20 mins.

Course:        Main

Serves:         2

Rating:         3:  Moderate

Fancy a bit of the spice of old French Louisiana? The food of the Cajun ethnic group is alive and well and living in your spice rack.  Well, in a little packet in your drawer, possibly.  Quite hot’n’spicy, Cajun seasoning is available in little sachets in the supermarket – avoid the jars, for which they willingly charge an arm, a leg and a hip.  You can buy a rack of the same jars, empty, at car boot sales for 50p to a quid, so that’s for your next outing.

For two people, find:-

  • 2 chicken breasts (see Tricks’n’Tips for thawing out chicken)
  • Cajun seasoning to taste (and there’s no way I can tell you how much to use, so don’t ask – just try it – be brave – a bit more or a bit less….).
  • Butter and oil
  • Rice, or salad – or both – to serve with it. I’d have both.
  • Frying pan

Method:

See Tricks’n’Tips for making chicken breast behave and eat better.

  • Rub the Cajun seasoning all over the chicken breasts (leave the skins on), being careful not to dislodge the mini-fillet from underneath unless the breast is so big that it can afford to be removed. (My supplier’s breasts are HUGE!……. No, not the person; just the chicken breasts, silly!)
  • Put butter and a little splash of oil in the pan, over a medium heat.
  • Fry the chicken, very, very gently, for about 20 minutes, turning it over a number of times to spread the heat evenly through. You can use a loosely fitting lid on the pan to keep the moisture in. Gently.
  • Douse with the juice of a lemon then serve it with plain rice, salad, rice and salad, salad and rice, new pots & veg….. whatever you like.