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Posts Tagged ‘chilli’

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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Chilli Con Carne

Chilli con carne

I like to vary the carbohydrates that I eat during the week, alternating between rice, potatoes, pasta and bread. When we’re thinking of something to have with rice, chilli frequently comes to mind. It’s delicious, simple to make and keeps well in the freezer – although my leftovers are often taken to work for lunch the next day. For some reason there’s no mention of chilli con carne on this blog so I thought I’d change that.

Chilli is similar to bolognese in that everyone has their own recipe and secret ingredients. Sit a few cooks down together and bring up the topic of the ultimate chilli con carne recipe and you’ll have hours of conversation over the best meats (either ground or diced chunks), whether beans should be added or not, the amount of tomato to use… I’m going to give my recipe but don’t take it as gospel. Use more or less beans, diced beef instead of minced beef, more or less chilli – it’s up to you.

This time I used British Cherry Bomb chillis – they’re pendant shaped and can be quite potent. Any other type of fresh chilli, or even dried chilli flakes will do.

Chilli also tastes better when made a few days in advance. Once cooked, leave to cool then put in the fridge and reheat gently before serving.

Chilli Con Carne
Serves 2 to 3 people
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: at least an hour

1 onion, half sliced, the other half diced
1 cherry bomb chilli, diced (include the seeds if you want it hot)
1 large clove garlic, minced
350g lean minced beef
1 beef stock cube
1/2tsp cumin
1 tin good quality chopped tomatoes
1/2 tbsp tomato puree
1tsp chilli powder
1tsp oregano
dash of red wine (optional)
olive oil
salt and pepper

Start by dry fying the mince in a pan until browned, strain then set aside.

Fry the onion, garlic and chilli in a little oil over a low heat until softened – this will take between 5 and 10 minutes. Add the cumin, chilli powder and oregano to the onions and stir before adding the cooked minced beef. Next add the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, beef stock cube and some salt and pepper and stir well. Pour in the red wine if using – I often freeze leftover red wine in an ice cube tray and use a couple of cubes in this dish.

Leave to simmer uncovered for at least an hour – add some water if it gets too dry. Serve with some boiled rice, a jacket potato or even some nachos.

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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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Mexican bean soup

A quick dinner tonight. Erika and I have been busy recently, so it’s nice to have something which tastes good but doesn’t take too long to cook. I’d also had a tasteless, watery chicken fajita for lunch from the work canteen which didn’t satisfy my craving for mexican food so was delighted when Erika suggested having this!

I used the same Mexican bean soup recipe as before, but used some leftover cooking chorizo instead of the bacon and left out the roasted pepper.

Once again it tasted lovely, although it did need a pinch of chilli flakes as the red chilli I used didn’t pack enough heat. There was spice from the chilli, paprika-y saltiness from the chorizo and heartiness from the beans and spaghetti. Next time I’d like to make a huge pot and take it for lunch at work to have instead of the awful canteen food!

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Chicken arrabiata

We’re trying to use up things in the freezer at the moment and needed some way to use up a lone chicken breast. We reasoned that it would probably stretch furtherst in a pasta dish and decided upon making an arrabiata sauce to go with it.

A quick Google search tells me that our sauce wasn’t entirely authentic, but we just chose to make up a spicy tomato sauce and go with it!

Chicken Arrabiata
Serves 2
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins

1 chicken breast
160g pasta (we used conchiglie, but would have used penne if we’d had any!)
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 green chilli, minced (red’ll do too!)
1tbsp tomato purée
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tsp dried oregano
olive oil
salt & pepper
Grana Padano/Parmesan, to serve (optional)

1. Put the chicken breast in a pan and cover with boiling water. Bring to a slow boil and poach for 10-15 minutes or until cooked. When cooked, remove it from the pan and leave on a plate to rest.
2. Meanwhile, soften the onion in olive oil for 5 minutes before adding the crushed garlic and minced chilli. Cook for a further minute.
3. Add the herbs and then stir the tomato purée through. Leave it for 30 seconds or so before adding the chopped tomatoes. Season to taste and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
4. While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta according to the instructions.
5. When everything is ready, shred the chicken with your hands (or a couple of forks if it’s still too hot!), drain the pasta and then mix everything in together before serving with a sprinkling of Grana Padano/Parmesan.

This was the first time we’d poached chicken and it worked really well, cooking it through whilst keeping it soft and moist. The sauce had a pleasant warmth from the chilli (if you want more of a kick, you’ll want to add more) and was all in all a really nice, quick and easy meal.

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