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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Crispy Skinned Chicken Breast

The first time I ate crispy skinned chicken breast in a restaurant I thought that it was 2 things 1) really, really tasty and 2) difficult to cook. It is really, really tasty and contrary to my initial belief really, really simple to cook. The problem with chicken boob is, it has the potential to dry out and therefore really, really suck. If you keep your eye on it, it should be fine though. Apart from keeping an eye on it, use a large frying pan as overcrowding will stop the crispy bit. If necessary use 2 frying pans. The most user friendly version I found in my research was this one which I have altered to suit me. Either or, the result is great.

2 large chicken breasts with skin on
2 medium sized potatoes
3 garlic cloves sliced thickishly
Rosemary stripped
10 or 12 mushrooms halved
Olive oil
1 cup white wine
1 knob butter
Parsley chopped
Beetroot puree
Steamed greens

Slice the potatoes length ways and pre-boil until just cooked, remove and set aside. Pre-heat an oven to 180C. Salt, pepper and oil the chicken breasts. Heat a frying pan to medium high with 1 tbs olive oil and add the chicken breasts skin side down. After five minutes turn the breast on its back, place the cooked potato cut side down around the chicken, sprinkle in the rosemary and garlic. Place in the oven for 5 minutes, turn the chicken again and return for a further 5 minutes. Remove the chicken and check for doneness. If it is soft to touch, it needs more time in the oven. Place back in the oven for a few more minutes until it is almost firm to the touch. If the skin is not crispy enough, put it under a grill on high, watching carefully, until it is crispy. If it is cooked, remove to a plate and to a warm place to rest. If necessary, return the potato to the oven.
Remove the garlic from the pan and set aside. Place the pan on a medium high heat on the stove top and toss in the mushroom. When the mushroom has some colour deglaze the pan with the wine, scrapping up any sediment. Pour in any resting juice from the chicken. When the wine has reduced by half, add the butter (cream if you want), cooked garlic and parsley and check for seasoning, remove from the heat.
Serve the chicken topped with sauce on warmed plates with the potato, steamed greens and beetroot puree.

Beetroot Puree

I have used this idea in a few dishes, it is easy and great. This is fairly similar to the Beetroot and Feta Dip I have posted previously but sans cheese and mint and slightly more savoury. Increase or decrease the amount of ingredients according to your needs, just check for seasoning.

Beetroot, skinned and quartered
Garlic cloves with the skin on
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Parsley (or other herb)
Extra virgin olive oil

Coat the beetroot and garlic cloves in oil, salt, pepper and a little balsamic. Roast in an oven on a lined tray (easier for cleaning) for about half an hour. Keep checking that the garlic doesn't burst free from its skin and begin to burn. If it starts to leak out, just remove it to a clean plate. After 30 mins remove and allow to cool for a few minutes. Squish the garlic into a blender, chop a little and add the beetroot, add some parsley, more salt and pepper, a little more balsamic and about 1 tbs each of yoghurt and extra virgin olive oil. Blend the lot, check for seasoning adding more of whatever you believe is missing. If it is too dry, add more yoghurt, balsamic or olive oil, if it lacks flavour add salt, pepper, more garlic or more or different herbs.
Serve this on little toasts, an accompaniment to meat, with cheese, bung it through pasta or, as a vegetable alternative with dinner.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Watercress and Pear Soup

Normal soup with those two things thrown in. It was meant to be watercress and pea but the last minute addition of pear was stronger. Watercress is great gear when you can buy it, yesterday was the first time I had seen it in 6 years and it was cheap too. It is quite peppery and is great in salads and as a garnish. If you like the sound of this but can't find watercress, use rocket perhaps or, maybe even try adding some blue cheese. Blue cheese and pear together are awesome.

1 bunch watercress washed and cleaned
2 leeks cleaned and chopped
1 onion chopped
2 sticks of celery chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
4 or 5 small potatoes chopped
750 ml chicken stock
2 cups frozen peas
1 1/2 pears chopped
2 tbs yoghurt  (or more)
Salt and pepper
1 tbs butter
Extra virgin olive oil

Saute the onion, celery, leeks and garlic in the butter in a large saucepan. Add the potato and cover with the stock. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until just tender. After10 minutes add the pear. After 15 minutes add the peas. After 20 minutes, add the watercress, mix in and turn off the heat for a couple more minutes. Add salt and pepper, yoghurt and some lemon juice (start with about 1 tbs) and blend with a stick blender. Check for seasoning adding more salt, pepper, lemon or yoghurt as necessary.
Serve in bowls, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil, with some crusty bread.

Honey Roasted Pumpkin and Lemon Chicken Pearl Barley Risotto

Noice, and less effort than normal risotto. The pumpkin ended up mushing itself all through the whole shebang.

1/4 pumpkin skinned in 1cm dice
1/2 tbs honey
1 chicken breast
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Some Rosemary stripped
1/2 head of broccoli in small florets
1 stick of celery in small dice (reserve the woody end)
1 1/2 cups pearl barley
1/2 an onion in small dice
2 cloves garlic minced
1 cup white wine (optional)
1 litre of stock
1 knob of butter
Pecorino or Parmesan
1/2 handful of parsley chopped
2 slices bacon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Lemon for serving

Add the diced pumpkin to a large mixing bowl, add some olive oil and the honey and toss to combine. Place  in a single layer on a lined baking tray and roast in a pre-heated 200C oven for about 30 mins or until they have taken on some colour. Remove when ready.
With a large sharp knife, slice the chicken breast horizontally into three slices of even thickness . Combine the chicken breast with the lemon zest, lemon juice, some olive oil, pepper and rosemary and set aside for ten minutes while you prepare the rest.
Heat the stock in a small saucepan and add in the woody celery bit.
Fry the bacon over medium high in a large heavy based saucepan until mostly crispy then remove to a warm place (I use the grill with the door closed and not on). Cook the chicken in the same pan until just cooked then remove to a warm place. Reduce the heat and saute the onion, celery and garlic until translucent. Add the pearl barley to the pan tossing to coat and removing any sediment from the bottom. Add the wine if using and allow to absorb. Add in about half of the stock and simmer, adding more as it is almost absorbed. Stir occasionally.
While this happening, dice 2 of the slices of chicken and slice the other piece into strips. Chop all of the bacon.
From the time you add the stock it should take about 25 mins to cook, test grains of the barley occasionally after about twenty minutes. A couple of minutes before you think it is ready, add the broccoli florets. When you think it is almost ready add in the last laddleful of stock, as much Parmesan as you like, the butter, parsley, diced chicken, bacon and pumpkin and stir to combine. Add the lid, turn off the heat and allow to sit for a couple of minutes.
Serve in warmed bowls topped with sliced chicken and a squeeze of lemon.