Monday, September 24, 2007

Copying the French

Well looking back I see I never posted about the lamb, which came out very tender and suprisingly mild for lamb this time of year. Minted dauphinois worked OK too, put layers of mint in between the potato, which gave the right effect. But what I was going to post about was chicken, again.

I was in France a few weeks back and had chicken in a bistro in Albert, which was so simply done but delicious. It was a thigh/leg with a dark sauce (best call it a sauce I guess - not sure the French appreciate the word gravy ...) served with rice, but not just any old rice but risotto rice with a little butter and parsley. It was so good I've been meaning to recreate it and finally did on Sunday.

In order to get the right effect I spit roasted the chicken with a pan underneath to collect the juices, so that they would get nice and dark and caramelised in the heat of the oven. As the chicken rested the arborio went on, and I deglazed the pan with some chicken stock and reduced it down to a rich coating sauce. Then just took the leg/thighs off the bird, a little fresh parsely and butter on the rice, sauce over the meat and done.

Haven't got a picture of the chicken yet, but here's the set-up before digging in ...

There's something about simple food like this which goes down a treat, and although I reckon the quality of the chicken was better in France it was a pretty good reproduction I reckon, and will become a regular on our table. Pretty healthy too ... so long as you ignore the vast quantities of cheese we managed to get through after lunch as the lazy Sunday afternoon got started!

... and the set-up very shortly after!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Chicken - always versatile

I write this with Lamb roasting downstairs, ready for this Sunday. Slow roast with onions and garlic, with minted dauphinois (something I'm testing out) and our own runner beans from the garden. Then a blackberry and apple pie to finish, with blackberrys we just collected this morning from around the village. But that's not what this post is about ...

I thought I'd quickly post about the chicken I did last Sunday. It was a biggie, and I did it using a Greek recipe from a magazine I had lying about that sounded tasty. Basically it contained a lot of olive oil, oregano, lemon and potatoes, and was very good, although I felt there was perhaps a bit too much oil involved! The potatoes did come out amazing though.

What was even more amazing though (as always) is what you can get up to with the leftovers. I'm always amazed when people say that good quality food is too expensive when you consider how far you can make it go. This Chicken was almost £10, but we have trouble trying to eat it all, we get so many meals out of it. In fact there is still some risotto left in the fridge! That made about 8 meals in itself, plus there was another old classic I like to do - Chicken and Avocado salad. What's nice about using left over chicken is the salad is always a little different, depending how I roasted the meat, and perfect for when the weather gets a bit warm again like now. It's simplicity itself to make - and I think chicken and avocado have a great relationship in the dish. Plus there's the dressing I always make - a mixture of honey, lemon, whole grain mustard, olive oil and seasoning, that brings everything together. I served this one with freshly based Focaccia (again really easy and cheap to make - enough bread for about 8 meals will cost less than 50p).

I guess I have my mum and gran to thank for being a thrify cook all the time. It's a real pleasure though to create something tasty from leftovers, and I think brings out the best in you as a cook - not too mention saving you money in the process!


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