Posts Tagged ‘chicken’

…or the dish that’s going to harm our relationship with our favourite Chinese takeaway!

Sweet & Sour Chicken with Egg Fried Rice

Sweet and sour chicken is a bit of a favourite of Rob’s; throughout university he spent many an evening with a jar of Uncle Ben’s and since discovering the joys of cooking from scratch has always intended to give it a go properly. Personally, I’m not really a fan – I find the sauce can often be leaning too far to the sour side and, let’s be honest, it can look rather radioactive at times! When Rob suggested trying it for dinner I could have just let him go ahead and made myself some pasta, but I was feeling lazy and as he was easily convinced to throw some egg fried rice into the bargain I thought I’d take the risk. Very glad I did, it was absolutely delicious!

We’ve made chicken chow mein before but, while it was very nice, the lack of takeaway greasiness actually felt like a bit of a shame! With tonight’s sweet and sour chicken though it was a completely different story. The freshness of the ingredients really lifted this; chunky pieces of tender chicken breast, crunchy peppers, juicy pineapple (okay, that was from a tin) and perfect egg fried rice.

The sweet and sour chicken was adaptation from Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook (an adaptation in so much as we didn’t have all the ingredients!) while the egg fried rice was just something Rob had filed into his head at some point!

Sweet and sour chicken with egg fried rice
Serves 2
Prep time: 20 mins (plus 30 mins for marinating)
Cooking time: 25 mins (you can reduce this by cooking the chicken and rice simultaneously – we have only one wok!)

For the chicken:
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (diced – approx. 300g total)
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 small can (227g net) pineapple chunks in juice (drained and juice reserved)
1 tbsp cornflour
1.5 tbsp groundnut oil
1/2 green pepper (seeded and cut into chunky pieces)
1/2 red pepper (seeded and cut into chunky pieces)
1 medium white onion (cut into chunky pieces)
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
salt and pepper

For the rice:
1/2 cup (approx. 90g) basmati rice
1 medium egg
a handful of frozen peas (defrosted)
groundnut oil
salt and pepper

If, like us, you intend to cook the sweet and sour chicken before the egg fried rice, preheat the oven to low temperature so the chicken can be kept warm.

1. Prepare the marinade by mixing the soy sauce with a teaspoon of the pineapple juice. Stir in the chicken pieces until they’re well-coated, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Cook the rice using whatever method works best for you and set aside.
3. Make the remaining pineapple juice up to 150ml with water, stir in the cornflour and set aside.
4. Heat the oil (for the chicken) in a wok, add the chicken and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until golden all over. Lift out and set aside.
5. Add the peppers and onion to the wok and stir-fry for about 5 minutes.
6. Add the pineapple juice/cornflour mix and ketchup and cook for a few minutes until thickened.
7. Return the chicken to the wock along with the pineapple chunks and heat through. Season and then transfer to a ovenproof dish and keep warm in the preheated oven.
8. Clean the wok (or get another one!) and add a generous amount of oil (you can add more later if necessary). Bring to a medium heat (you don’t want to burn the egg!).
9. Beat the egg and add it to the wok. Allow the egg to cook for a couple of minutes until it resembles a small omelette.
10. Stir the rice and peas into the egg, breaking up the cooked egg in the process. Cook for 3-4 minutes, continually stirring.
11. Serve up the rice with the chicken and enjoy!

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Chicken Enchiladas with a Smoky Tomato Sauce

Fajitas are a popular dish in our household. In fact I’ve stopped blogging about them now because there’s only so many photos you can take of the same dish! I just adore the spicy chicken with the charred vegetables, salsa, sour cream..yum yum yum. However, Erika and I thought we’d try something different but still stay with the mexican theme, so turned to a recipe on our delicious for chicken enchiladas with a smoky tomato sauce, which we halved to serve both of us generously.

The recipe blurb suggests that it’s not too spicy and is suitable for kids. Not being a child I added a bit extra smoked paprika in order to get more of that smoky flavour across. I also dropped the cocoa powder as I thought the use of it would make the sauce taste a bit too hot-chocolatey. Furthermore we poached then shredded a chicken breast and used that instead of the shop bought stuff as I find that has absolutely no flavour whatsoever.

Overall – very good. Spicy sauce, tasty filling with the stringy melted cheese on top, all in addition to the wraps which go wonderfully crispy after coming out of the oven. I still prefer fajitas but I’d be happy to alternate between the two!

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Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken

The Mayor’s Thames Festival was a few weeks ago and Erika and I spent some time there browsing the stalls and tucking in to some of food and drink that was on offer. We looked out for the amazing jerk chicken stall that we visited a couple of years ago but were unable to find it – eventually we got too hungry and settled for some lukewarm chinese food which was very disappointing.

This restarted the fire in my heart for jerk chicken. We tried it once before and despite the number of ingredients it tasted quite bland. Some surfing online revealed a recipe from Levi Roots (I adored his ‘Caribbean Food Made Easy’ series that was recently on TV). Initially the number of ingredients put me off but I soon realised we had most of them in the cupboard.

I made the marinade and covered the chicken with it. This went into the fridge overnight and the next day cooked it under the grill, regularly basting with more of the spicy marinade. I served the chicken with some corn salsa (sweetcorn, spring onion, chilli, salt and pepper and a dash of olive oil) and roasted sweet potato wedges which I sprinkled with all-purpose seasoning.

Overall it was a huge improvement on last time; still not as good as the jerk stall at the Thames Festival though. I think that is because they smoke the chicken as it is cooked on the barbeque, something which cannot be reproduced under the grill. The wedges were great (except for the use of all purpose seasoning), and although they didn’t crisp up up they were lovely and soft inside, and the corn salsa provided a zingy accompaniment to the dish.

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Balsamic roasted pepper chicken

The recipe for tonight’s dinner comes courtesy of Karina’s Kitchen: finely sliced peppers and onions, dressed in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, worcestershire sauce, olive oil, garlic and various herbs, piled high onto butterflied chicken breasts and then roasted in the oven. It’s an easy recipe to follow and can be prepared in advance.

The first time I made this, I was a little skeptical about the ingredients for the sauce, but I’d definitely recommend that you just have a little faith with this one – it comes out tasting great in the end as well as looking gorgeously summery and Mediterranean. We served it simply with some boiled new potatoes.

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Homemade piri piri chicken

Piri piri is the name that Angolans use to describe the bird’s eye chilli. The spicy marinade has been made famous over here due in no small part to the Nando’s chain of restaurants, where they serve up chicken, fries and coleslaw to thousands of hungry people every day.

You don’t have to go to Nando’s to have piri piri chicken. Indeed, it only takes a few seconds to make the marinade and you can prepare it in advance as it’s even better after a few days in the fridge. This stuff is perhaps less authentic than real piri piri as it uses red chillis instead of bird’s eye, but it still tastes great.

Both Erika and I much prefer this version to anything you can get from Nando’s. It’s a spicy, flavoursome sauce which tastes divine. Use chicken thighs instead of breasts as they’re cheaper and far far jucier and tastier. Pour the sauce over the chicken a good 12 hours before you want to start cooking as you want the meat to absorb as much of the fire as possible! We served ours with some coleslaw and corn.

Piri Piri Marinade
Makes enough for 2 large chicken legs
Prep time: 30 seconds

1 whole red chilli (including seeds), halved
1tsp oregano
1tsp paprika
good pinch of salt
clove of garlic
4tbsp olive oil

Put the chilli, oregano, salt, garlic and olive oil in a blender and whizz for a few seconds until you have a marinade. Leave it in the fridge until you need it – it improves with age and will be good for a few days.

Pour over chicken at least 12 hours before you need it then grill, griddle, fry or barbeque until cooked, basting with the leftover sauce regularly.

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chicken dhansak

For years and years I’d always order the same dish whenever I went for a curry. Chicken dhansak, a hot and sour parsi dish of chicken in a thick, spicy sauce with lentils, was recommended to me by a friend and afterwards I never tried anything else. Lentils make the sauce healthier than when cream is used, add to the fibre content of the dish and fill you up faster so you don’t eat as much… except that never happens to me when I go for a curry – papadums, naan, rice and of course a refreshing cold beer are all accompaniments and I rarely leave without consuming an entire day’s calories in one sitting.

I’ve tried cooking chicken dhansak few times in the past, but never with much success. The first time was when I was at university and after tearing the packet of lentils when trying to open them (and covering the floor with tiny red blobs) I eventually ended up making enough to feed an entire household as I got my quantities wrong and forgot to consider that lentils absorb water and expand. Sadly it didn’t taste too great either and I begrudginly ate the leftovers over the forthcoming few days, mostly because I couldn’t afford not to.

There’s a pack of split red lentils in the cupboard so I thought put them to good use and try making dhansak for dinner tonight. Whilst browsing the internet for inspiration and recipies, I came across a video on videojug called ‘how to cook chicken dhansak‘. Initially I wasn’t that impressed – there are plenty of recipes online and this one didn’t appeal – but after watching it again I realised that I know the restaurant that the lady in the video came from. It always used to be busy so, taking that into account, I thought it must be worth a try.

The recipe was simple to follow although I was confused about the order of some of the steps in the method. It states to start frying the chicken (which takes 20 minutes) before boiling the lentils (which take 30) and as such I ended up cooking the chicken for thirty minutes. Although it was over a low heat this was way too long and not surprisingly it ended up quite dry.

After an hour or so of cooking it was time for dinner. I was very impressed – it was the best dhansak I’ve made by far. There wasn’t as much sauce as I’d have from a takeaway so next time I’d add a few more lentils and a bit more water, but apart from that (and the dry chicken) there was not much wrong. In the future, I reckon it would be better frying the chicken 5 or so minutes before the cooked lentils are added.

Still not as good as the takeaway but it’s a start!

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Chicken and chorizo paella

One of my best food moments is sitting outside at a pavement cafe on Rambla de Catalunya, just around the corner from Guadi’s Casa Milà in Barcelona. We had a wonderful tapas lunch of chorizo, pimientos de Padrón, tortilla de patatas, pan amb tomaquet and patatas bravas in the late September heat just before heading back to the airport to return home. Nothing about that meal is reproducable in the UK: sitting outside always involves dirty buses, loud police cars and beggars, and getting good spanish food is nigh-on impossible, although I’ve not yet eaten at Tapas Brindisa so maybe I could be proven wrong.

Erika and I are also fans of paella, but unfortunately the time that we had that in Barcelona was one of my worst food experiences. I won’t ruin the moment by going into any more detail but let’s say that we were starving and tired and it was the closest place. Regardless, we’ve cooked paella a few times at home in the past and always enjoyed it, so when deciding on meals for this week it came up as something I’ve not had for a while.

The recipe I follow is from delicious magazine. It’s not totally authentic: as I’m not a great seafood fan I go for a meat version but it’s nice all the same. The recipe is a bit confusing as it produces enough to freeze but involves cooking two panfulls at the same time. I say scrap that, halve everything and there will be enough to feed 4 hungry people. After 30 minutes of cooking you’ll have a fresh, spicy dish with a variety of textures and flavours ranging from the crunchy beans to the soft, slightly sticky rice.

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