Bsked Chicken and Jersey Royals

Roast Chicken and Jersey Royals with Lemon, Golden Raisins and Pine nuts

Jersey Royal Potatoes growing at Trinity

Roast Chicken and Jersey Royals with Lemon, Golden Raisins and Pine nuts. All across the fertile fields of Jersey, you can now see acres of plastic sheets . These are covering the wonderful Jersey main season potato crop. The earliest growers would have been harvesting from polytunnels and glasshouses in late February. The outdoor potato harvest lasts from early April through to June depending of course on the climate conditions. The valuable growing land here is in such short supply that the potatoes are grown and harvested on near vertical fields. But don’t worry you don’t have scramble up a cliff side as Jersey Royals are available all over the island and in supermarkets around the UK.

Jersey Royal Potatoes

What makes Jersey Royals so special?

The above average temperature of Jersey, the easy draining soil and the use of the abundant local seaweed as fertilizer, all helps to shape the flavour of this most wonderful of root crops. However, we need however to go back to 1878 ( fear not, this is only a minor historical digression and an essential part of our tale ) for the origin of the Jersey Royal or to be more precise the Jersey Royal Fluke. A pair of abnormally large potatoes were purchased and later cultivated by Hugh de La Haye. They were the forerunners of the modern Jersey potato industry. Today over 1500 tonnes a day are exported during the season’s peak and the Jersey Royal enjoys EU protected status.

The Recipe

Many purists would say that all you need to eat Jersey Royals with is lashings of Jersey’s finest butter ( I’m a big fan of Classic Herd’s ) and a generous sprinkling of Jersey sea salt. They are the perfect accompaniment to the islands finest seafood, wonderful in salads. I want, however, to suggest to you something a little different. A one tray oven-baked dish that would be perfect served with a dressed green salad and a nice cold beer. The Jersey Royals have a great texture when roasted and are perfect with the chicken. Enjoy.

Bsked Chicken and Jersey Royals
Roast Chicken and Jersey Royals
If you cannot get hold of Jersey Royals you can use any firm early new potatoes Cornish are an idea substitute. If you don’t like chicken drumsticks just substitute four extra thighs. This recipe is Gluten Free.
My Kung Pao Chicken

Chinese New Year and Kung Pao Chicken

Chinese New Year and Kung Pao Chicken.  Today we welcome in the Chinese New Year 2019 the year of the pig. This year to celebrate I have made a trio of Sichuan inspired dishes. A vegetarian Mapo tofu, spicy Sichuan Salt and Pepper Prawns and today’s recipe the classic Kung Pao Chicken. Now you should beware many western versions of this lack the serious dual hit of fiery red chilli and the mouth tingling Sichuan pepper. In fact Sichuan peppers were banned from America for quite sometime? The US version is often just a variant of General Tso’s Chicken with carrots, onions and bell peppers in a sweet and sour sauce. You will find Western versions are often much tamer than the authentic dish.

Why is it called Kung Pao Chicken?

Kung Pao chicken (  宫保鸡丁 ) is believed to be named after a Governor of Sichuan province who held the official title ‘ Gongbao ‘ or palace guardian. I’m sure you have seen the similarity already. Because of this Imperial connection it was renamed during the famous Cultural Revolution. The new name was the rather less catchy ‘ fast fried chicken cubes ‘. It’s more famous name was restored in the nineteen eighties.

Authentic Kung Pao Chicken

You make real thing from stir-fried soy marinated chicken, leeks and raw peanuts. Your flavour comes from Sichuan peppercorns and red chillies. They are first heated in hot oil with perhaps some ginger and garlic. Then you serve the finished dish with simply steamed rice.

Sichuan Pepper
Sichuan pepper

Happy Chinese New Year

If you find my Sichuan recipes a little too fierce remember you can always reduce the amount of Sichuan peppercorns and / or red chillies. If you you like something less spicy altogether why not try some of my other Chinese recipes over the celebrations? Classic roast Char sui Pork, my version of sweet and sour Cantonese Pork, and the perfect bowl of rice. Or what about delicious Beef in Black Bean and Garlic sauce and slow-braised Lamb with Ginger. Whatever you choose I wish you a prosperous Chinese New Year. Watch out it won’t be long before I post another recipe from one of my favourite cuisines.

My Kung Pao Chicken
My Kung Pao Chicken
You can exchange the thighs with chicken breast if you prefer just cook a little less.

the Perfect Christmas Roast Turkey Dinner

The perfect Christmas roast turkey dinner. Most families in the United Kingdom traditionally sit-down on Christmas afternoon for their festive Christmas Dinner. Today you find the centerpiece is usually a roast Turkey served with stuffing, sausages wrapped in streaky bacon ( pigs in blankets ), crisp roast potatoes, parsnips, Brussel sprouts and lots of other vegetables, and cranberry sauce. This is followed by Christmas pudding and brandy sauce, maybe sherry trifle and mince pies. But how have we got here?

The perfect Christmas roast turkey

A bit of Christmas Dinner history

‘If he is to get on in life, he must get on umbly, Master Copperfield!’ In medieval England, if you were very rich you might have eaten venison for Christmas. Killed in your hunting grounds and the bits or umbles – the heart, lungs, liver, tongue, and kidneys would be chopped, mixed and baked in a pie to be given to the poor. The original [h]umble pie. Down the pecking order ( sorry ) you might find goose or woodcock covered in butter and saffron and roasted. For dessert, you would find frumerty a thick, spiced porridge. This was made with currents and enriched with egg yolks. Alternatively there might be a boiled plum pudding. The ancestor of today’s Christmas pudding made with suet and dried fruit. It would be flavoured with clove, ginger, and cinnamon. Plum is an old term for raisins.

A boar’s head would be the centerpiece of the Christmas feast for a Tudor nobleman. It is believed that the tradition is centuries-old. It came from pagan celebrations of the Norse god of the harvest. If you could not get hold of the highly prized head, you would have a ham which is now a staple of many Christmas meals. Sugar, spices, and nuts were considered highly exotic and very expensive. Highly decorated marzipan sweetmeats were a sign of your wealth and importance.

Gingerbread Men

Christmas Traditions

‘My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know.’
During the 17th century, turkeys started to become part of the Christmas feast. Although goose would remain the most popular roast well into the Victorian era. It was common for goose “Clubs” to be set up, allowing working-class families to save up over the year towards buying a goose. Sherlock Holmes solves a tricky case involving the theft of a precious stone the blue carbuncle when it is found in a Christmas club goose.

Gingerbread has an incredibly long history, near to a thousand years. Originally it was often sold in monasteries, pharmacies, and markets. Gingerbread was prized for its supposed medicinal properties and was used to aid digestion. It became so popular its manufacture was highly regulated in Germany and supervised by a guild. The guild lifted the restrictions on who could bake gingerbread at Easter and Christmas. By Victorian times Gingerbread men were baked and hung on the Christmas tree.

A dickens of a christmas

In the 18th and 19th century, Twelfth Night, the fifth of January, was one of the most important dates in the festive calendar. Twelfth Night was the last feast of the Christmas celebrations ( Epiphany ). The centerpiece of the parties, which involved eating, drinking and playing games was a cake. A forerunner to today’s Christmas cake it evolved from an enriched fruit bread to a more familiar fruit cake decorated with almond and sugar pastes. A dried bean was included in the recipe. Whoever found it was crowned ‘Lord of Misrule’ or ‘King of the Bean’ and presided over the festivities.

The perfect Christmas roast turkey dinner

When Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, the turkey was still an expensive choice, only for the very rich, for Christmas dinner. A famous Christmas dinner scene appears in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, where Scrooge sends Bob Cratchit a large turkey. In northern England, roast beef was commonly served on Christmas Day while in London and the south of England, a goose was still the favourite. Those too poor to afford beef or goose made do with rabbit. However, by the end of the 19th century, most people feasted on turkey for Christmas dinner.

Mince Pies

Mincemeat was from Tudor times, when chopped meat mixed with dried fruits, sugar, and spices. This recipe continued right up to the Victorian era when less and less meat was included in the recipe. The mince tart you eat today is filled entirely with dried fruits, sugar, spices, and suet to keep it moist. Most premade mincemeat mixtures now use vegetable fats rather than the traditional suet in keeping with mincemeats origins.

Today’s Recipe

Traditional Roast Turkey Dinner

So today’s recipe is for the Christmas centerpiece a roast turkey. I have memories of my mum getting up at 6am to put the oven to prepare a monster of a turkey for the family. As in popular legend, it did seem that we ate turkey leftovers for days after. You should never put stuffing into a turkey cavity as it will not cook properly and could be a health risk but I do like to stuff the breast end of the bird which helps keep the meat moist. I have included my favourite stuffing recipe.

So today’s recipe is for the Christmas centerpiece a roast turkey. I have memories of my mum getting up at 6 to put the oven to prepare a monster of a turkey for the family. As in popular legend, it did seem that we ate turkey leftovers for days after. You should never put stuffing into a turkey cavity as it will not cook properly and could be a health risk but I do like to stuff the breast end of the bird which helps keep the meat moist. I have included my favourite stuffing recipe.

The Best Garlicky Roast Chicken

Parchment Roast Chicken
Delicious parchment roast Garlicky Chicken

Now I am a chef who loves his Sunday lunch and I cannot place the thinnest spatula between beef, lamb, and pork but as a family, we have a clear favourite, the great roast chicken. I am picky however and for the best taste, I prefer a nice free-range bird the skin crisp, the meat moist and succulent. In the depths of wet, windy Channel Island winters I love all the wonderful, traditional garnishes to go with the said roast. Bread sauce, sage and onion stuffing, bacon and chipolata rolls with mounds of fluffy potatoes roasted in duck fat and lashings of gravy.

But this glorious very hot summer and we are looking to our nearest neighbour, remember France is only a few miles away and serve up the roast chicken with some herbs and garlic, sauté potatoes and crisp green salad. Simpler, quicker and next time I must remember the chilled French wine or Normandy cider to serve with it! I stuff the cavity with a big handful of fresh herbs tarragon, parsley, thyme and lots of oregano, add a lemon, then sprinkle with Jersey sea salt and a good twist of fresh black pepper from the mill and add lots of sliced garlic.

Parchment Chicken

Garlic Roast Chicken                serves 4

The big secret is cooking the whole chicken in a baking paper parchment to keep it incredibly moist and flavourful. This method of cooking is called ‘en papillote’ and the poultry or fish is sealed in parchment or foil with herbs and other aromatics and cooks in its own steam.

4 lb ( 2 kg ) free-range Chicken from a reputable supplier

A handful of mixed, fresh Herbs, washed and dried

A couple of large knobs of Butter

A fresh Lemon cut in half

6 cloves of Garlic, peeled in sliced

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 F / 190 C / Gas Mark 5. Place a large sheet of baking paper into the middle of a roasting tray. The parchment must be large enough to fold around the chicken and seal. Place your chicken on the paper, fill the cavity with herbs and lemon halves, rub the butter over the skin, cover with the sliced garlic and season generously. Fold the parchment over the chicken and fold to form a loose parcel.

Place in oven and roast for one hour and a half to two hours depending on the size of your chicken or until the leg juices run clear when pricked with a small sharp knife. ( A meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh should reach 180 F ). Remove from the oven and cover in a T towel and rest for twenty minutes before carving. Simple.

Wine

What to Drink? Continental style Pilsner larger or bitter, hoppy I.P.A ale is a great match with the garlic chicken if you prefer wine try a classic White Burgundy or sparkling Rose wine.

 

Allergens in this recipe are;

Milk

Please see the Allergens Page

Butterflied BBQ Sticky Chicken Breast

BBQ Butterfly Chicken Breast – UK BBQ Week

My last recipe for this year’s National BBQ Week is a simple sticky BBQ butterfly chicken breast ( no bone so no need to worry about cooking the meat through ) with a nice simple sticky Kansas city style BBQ sauce which can be used on ribs and other BBQ meats. Don’t use it too early during the cooking process as it will easily burn due to the relatively high sugar content. For more information on how to BBQ successfully please read my post on grilling temperatures. When you make it use a good quality ketchup as I find cheaper varieties a little too acidic. Enjoy.

If you are like me and love BBQ food please follow my BBQ inspired blog here.

Butterflied BBQ Sticky Chicken Breast
Butterflied BBQ Chicken Breast

Brilliant BBQ Style Chicken Breasts

A butterfly chicken breast is sliced nearly through to open out the breast allowing it to be stuffed and rolled, batted out and breadcrumbed or simply cooked quicker.

4 large butterflied Chicken Breasts ( ask your butcher to do this )

A little Olive oil

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

For the sauce

400 ml quality Tomato Ketchup

100 gr Soft Brown Sugar

3 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

2 tablespoons Sherry Vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons melted Butter

1 teaspoon English Mustard Powder

1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

½ teaspoon dried Thyme

½ teaspoon Celery Salt

A couple of splashes of Sriracha hot sauce ( to your taste )

For the sauce, take a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan and sauté the garlic gently in the butter until tender and without overly browning which will make the sauce bitter. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer, stirring regularly to prevent the sauce sticking to the pan and burning. Cook out for five minutes and remove from the heat and set aside.

To cook the chicken breasts, brush with a little oil, season well and cook over a medium-hot BBQ for eight to ten minutes each side then baste with the sauce and cook for five to ten more minutes, continuing to baste until the meat is cooked and any juices run clear.

Alternatively, line a baking tray with aluminium foil and lightly grease. Place on the chicken and cook under a medium hot grill as above. After cooking either under the grill or on the BBQ brush the chicken breast generously with extra sauce and serve.

Wine

What to Drink? Continental style Blonde beers cut through the sweet sticky sauce and I like to pair the chicken with sweeter, lower alcohol Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc white wines.

 

Allergens in this recipe are;

Celery  Mustard

Please see the Allergens Page

 

Coq-au-vin

The very fact that you may have searched for, or indeed stumbled upon this post by accident, is an indication of the number of food blogs and recipe sites available on the net. However, it does not reach out as far as I can see as to have an explanation as to the origins of Coq au vin, that rich, satisfying, classic French peasant dish that is today’s dish. It is generally accepted that it has a long history as a rustic, rural, recipe, however, it only first appears in cookery literature in the late eighteen hundreds. The two most popular stories about the creation of the dish involve Napoleon and Julius Caesar, of the two, as a long-term Asterix fan I like the Caesar story.

Coq au Vin.jpg

After the conquest of Gaul, now part of modern-day France, the story goes that the natives presented the victor with an old gamey, rooster. The rooster is a tough proposition – excuse the pun and requires long, slow cooking. The rooster was cooked by Caesar’s chef simmered in wine ( a method of cooking extremely popular with the Romans, whatever else did they do for us ? ) and the end result was said to be very successful. Traditionally then, the rooster or any tough old bird benefits from first marinating in wine* then gently braising and the addition of the carcass adds a richness to the finished sauce.

A little Whine !

Again the Internet has failed to provide me the name of, at a cursory glance, the first person to say that if you would not drink a wine then you should not cook with it. I remember watching TV and the late, great and sadly missed Keith Floyd elucidating, sometimes less than clearly, that this indeed is the case. He certainly was a fan of checking the quality of the vintage he was cooking with at the time. Your Coq au vin does not need to be made with a first growth claret but will benefit from a full-bodied robust red. While it could be Australian or from Chile I am at heart a traditionalist and believe that a Burgundy is best.

Many regions of France have variants of Coq au vin using the local wine, such as coq au vin jaune (Jura) and coq au pourpre (Beaujolais nouveau). In some variations of the dish white wine is used, Riesling wine is popularly used in the Alsace region, with the addition of Morels and cream. In addition to the wine and chicken, Coq au vin is flavoured with the inclusion of fat bacon or salt pork, onion, garlic, mushrooms and a bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf, parsley). The chicken is first marinated in wine, then seared in hot fat, this is essential to flavour and colour the finished dish. The meat, vegetables, and aromatics are then simmered in the wine marinade until the meat is cooked and tender.

* no jokes please

On a personal note, I find Coq au vin an ideal dish for the slow cooker. A good coq au vin improves immensely if you marinade the chicken overnight and improves further if you leave it when cooked, overnight, in the refrigerator. If you cannot get a piece of bacon try to use the thickest rashers you can find so the lardons will not break up during cooking. Celery is not a staple of many recipes for Coq au vin but I have stolen the idea from Nigel Slater and have included it below. If you want to peel baby onions you can but I find the result is in no way spoilt by using frozen baby onions. The dish is served in France with flat noodles or rice, it is equally appealing with steamed potatoes that you can crush in the gravy. Enjoy.

Coq au vin                    Serves 4

A large Chicken, jointed into 6 or 8 pieces, giblets and carcass saved

( ask your butcher if he can source a rooster and if he will cut it up for you )

For the stock

Saved Chicken giblets and carcass

1 onion, peeled and roughly sliced

1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

1 stick of celery, washed and roughly chopped

A bay leaf, a clove of garlic and a few peppercorns

For the Coq-au-vin

125 gr whole Pancetta or Unsmoked Bacon

2 medium Onions, peeled and finely chopped

2 large Carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced

3 sticks of Celery, washed and finely diced

3 cloves of Garlic, peeled and finely chopped

200 gr Button Mushrooms, washed and halved or quartered if required

75 gr frozen Baby Onions

A bottle of drinkable Red Wine, preferably Burgundy

2 tablespoons Plain Flour

75 gr Butter

4 tablespoons Cognac

A good handful of Curly Parsley, washed and picked and finely chopped ( keep the parsley stems )

A small bunch of Thyme

3 Bay leaves

Sea salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Butchers string

For the marinade

This is pretty important as it helps give the chicken the deep colour you are looking for. Place the chicken pieces in a glass bowl and add half of the crushed garlic. Make a bouquet garni – take one stick of celery and cut in half, into one-half place 5 or 6 stems of thyme, the bay leaves, and the parsley stems. Sandwich the herbs with the remaining half of the celery stick and tie tightly together with string. Add to the chicken and cover with the wine. Seal bowl with cling film and place overnight in a refrigerator.

For the stock, place all of the ingredients in a large heavy bottomed pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for three hours at a gentle simmer, then set aside to cool. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and drain thoroughly. Reserve the marinade. Cut the pancetta into chunky lardons or short strips, they need to be thicker than a match but not quite as thick as your little finger. In a large thick-bottomed casserole melt one ounce of the butter over a moderate heat and gently sauté the lardons until crisp and light brown. Remove using a slotted spoon leaving the excess fat in the casserole dish.

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and place them in the hot fat in the casserole, so that they fit snugly yet have room to colour. Sauté the chicken pieces and turn them over when the colour is a nice clover honey brown. It is this colouring of the skin, rather than what wine or herbs you might add later, that is crucial to the flavour of the dish. Remove the chicken and set aside with the bacon lardons. Do not clean the casserole dish as the fat and juices in the dish are important to the finished flavour of the coq au vin.

Add the onions and carrot to the pan and cook slowly, stirring from time to time, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the remaining garlic, stir and then return the chicken and pancetta to the pan, stir in the flour and let everything cook for a minute or two more before pouring in the cognac and marinade including the boquet garni. Strain the stock and pour into the casserole until all the chicken is covered. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down so that the sauce bubbles in a gentle simmer. Cover partially with a lid.

Melt the remaining butter in a small heavy bottomed pan and saute the mushrooms. Let them cook until they are golden, then add them to the chicken with the baby onions and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Check the chicken after 40 minutes to see how tender it is. It should be soft but not falling off its bones. It will probably take about an hour, depending on the type of chicken you are using. Lift the chicken out onto a large plate and keep warm.

Turn the heat up under the sauce and simmer vigorously until it has reduced by about a fifth and become shiny and glossy. Divide the chicken into serving dishes and cover with sauce, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Flour  Celery  Milk

Please see the Allergens Page