chicken

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Where have I been?

chicken kiev

I’ve been in 70s, researching the feasibility of pine as a material for constructing kitchen cupboards. Fortunately, an eddy in the space-time continuum opened up due to the Large Hadron Collider allowed me to return to the present. Anyway they’ve got these things called Chicken Kiev and if you mash up a couple finely minced garlic cloves with some sage thyme and parsley and a splash of tabasco into some butter and then insert it into a pocket made with a boning knife in a chicken breast, then dust, egg, and crumb; brown in a pan and finish in a hot oven – then you’ll have it.
Cook the veges in any leftover garlic butter.
We’re using panko.

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lemon and garlic chicken


As a child in the Eastern Wheatbelt, we would get up early to milk the cows, running home with the still warm cream on our lips, checking our geese for eggs on the way back. Walking to school we would greet the baker and, if we were lucky, he’d hand us some warm buns, fresh from the ovens, which we’d eat with hand-made sausage from the butcher. Mother would pick us up and we’d visit the market, offering our advice as to which were the ripest pears and the juiciest oranges.

Lunch at LamontsAlright, alright that’s crap. The Eastern Wheatbelt was pretty rubbish for food. I think the most exciting thing to come to town was pressed chicken. I’m sure things have picked up but when Mon (on the right in the middle at Lamonts with Wozza, someone called Toni, and a couple whose wedding I went to a few years back) asked me to do a hearty rural dinner for farmers wives that didn’t involve lamb or potatoes, I imagined the worst case minimalist shopping scenario. As military strategist von Rumsfeld might have put it “you go to the kitchen with ingredients you have, not the ingredients you might want”. So don’t blame me if it all goes all pear shaped.

The first thing I’d do would be to get a bunch of plastic containers, make a bunch of stock and pop it all in the chest freezer. This is already culinary gold. Stock. Stock. Stock. Did I mention this before? Stock. Stock. Stock. Stock. Then I’d get some wine, great for cooking and it makes me happy. I’d have a herb garden. Lots of butter. Meats in the freezer. Ingredients that have a shelf life of more than a few days. And a copy of Richard Olney’s Simple French Food (he bags the city a lot). What’s for dinner? Provincial French cooking.

This is another recipe that takes a while but is reasonably straightforward. I’ll explain what happens to each ingredient separately.

Chicken Stock- three chicken carcasses, a couple of chopped carrots and celery sticks, half a chopped leek (or a couple of onions), a handful of parsely, half a dozen peppercorns, a bay leaf, .and a glass of white fine. Cover with water and simmer for at least two hours. Strain, pressing out the solids and put the stock on the boil until it reaches the strength you like. Remove any fat on the top. You can use a paper towel but the easiest way is to let it chill and take the congealed fat off the top.

Garlic- peel 20 pieces of garlic, keep their shape. Cook in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove and then let them simmer for 40 minutes in chicken stock.

Chicken – the recipe uses the legs, which is the drumstick with the thigh attached. I got a whole free-range chicken. Removed the frame, which I used for the stock. And detatched the chicken legs and wings and put the breasts in the freezer for another time. You can cut the knobbly end off the drumstick and the tips off the wings.

Brown the wings and the legs in some butter, remove them and drain the pan, leaving two tablespoons of fat to make the roux.

roux


Roux – add two tablespoons of plain flour to the leftover fat and stir in well over a low heat. Add a half a glass of wine* and stir over a high heat while scraping the bottom of the pan. Add 600ml of chicken stock. And then (this is the Richard Olney hint) – transfer it to a small saucepan as “the small surface permits a more rapid skimming and degreasing of the sauce while preventing an exaggerated reduction”. Skim off any fat or particles with a paper towel for 15 minutes.

*The recipe recommends white wine but I had some light red wine handy so that would do. It says the French Catalan’s use fortified wine like port so there’s a bit of flexibilty.

lemon and garlic chicken


Assembly-place the chicken pieces at the bottom of a casserole pot, add the garlic, and one peeled and finely sliced lemon, and the cover with the stock. Place in a 170C oven for 40 minutes and serve.

I served this on some pasta (rigatoni). Very enjoyable from ingredinets not very different to what you might use in a Sunday Roast. I’d like to try it again with white wine and one mistake was to place the lemon on top of the chicken rather than in the stock so it didn’t blend as well as it could have (it should dissolve). The garlic is the best part, soft and creamy and not at all garlicky like you’d imagine. Oh and the garnish was done with a lemon zester. If you press hard and run it along the side you should get some nice lengths. Otherwise slice the peel thinly and put in ice cold water.

And there you go, hope this is what you’re looking for. I’m actually a bit out of touch, not quite imagining everybody sits around making billy tea in akubra hats out of touch but well. A good chance to say hello in the comments lurking wheatbelt readers (yes you in Belka, and you in Hyden) and maybe suggest a fave.

lemon and garlic chicken


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boned chicken


Sunday roast, free -range chicken looking the most economical thing available. Baby zucchini and baby squash looking tasty. Couldn’t be bothered making breadcrumbs so couscous seemed a nice alternative and so it went from there.

I’d recently been taught how to debone quail so a chicken, in theory, should be easier because of its size. Bit too hard to explain it here but there are key points to keep in mind that should allow for reasonable latitude of success with messing about:

  1. Turn the chicken breast down and cut along the backbone from top to tail.
  2. Reach in an detatch what I can only describe as the two shoulder blades, just to either side of the backbone and a little back from the front.
  3. Cut along the frame of the ribcage until you get to the point where you can pull the frame out. Pop out the wishbone and dislocate the wings and legs.
  4. Remove the frame, trimming as necessary and reserve it for stock.

If it doesn’t work out, you can always barbecue it or chop it up into chicken curry. My new best friend is the Victorinox Curved Paring knife. Cheap and works well with fiddly stuff.

Marinated chicken in a mix of parsley, rosemary, tarragon, garlic, salt, lemon juice and olive oil. A sprinkle of paprika all over

Coucous with a mix of chopped baby zucchini and squash, pine nuts, chilli, garlic, half a finely chopped lime, one chopped tomato, salt, pepper, and a generous dab of butter and olive oil for internal moistiness. Placed inside the chicken. Bring the skin up around and close with a couple of wooden skewers and tie up with string to maintain shape.

Roasted in the oven and basted with a pan juices and olive oil until the juices ran clear. Give it a bit of a push with your thumb if you’re not sure, it should still have a little spring in it.

stuffed chicken

Deglaze the roasting pan with the chicken stock you made out of the bones. Put the excess couscous into the dariole moulds you bought last week. And serve.

stuff chicken plated

Moisty tasty joy.

and:Avast me chickens!

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lychini pork bean curd wraps crayfish and spring onion
szechwan pepper chicken garlic beef and tofu unsuccessful dessert

I like Chinese. The problem is that it’s an open ended dinner that doesn’t necessarily have to stop at three dishes, particularly as I usually decide that all major meat groups must be addressed, so it became five. They were:
Pork and Mushroom Steamed Bean Curd Rolls; Crayfish with Spring Onion; Szechwan Red Pepper Roast Chicken with Chinese Sausage Stuffing and Chinese Greens; Slow Cooked Beef and Tofu with Fried Rice; Unsuccessful Annin Dofu.

Afraid I won’t be listing all the recipes (I do have a life you know, no really, well lazy’s a bit harsh, I did make a garden bed the other week, no I know it’s not finished) but would like to point you in the way of Yan-Kit’s Classic Chinese Cookbook. It’s comprehensive, well detailed, and most of the recipes follow similar principles so it’s easy to adapt and improvise to use what you have. This allows you to have a rough idea of what you want to cook, go shopping with a bit whimsy, and nlow you’ll be able to make something. A few points.

Tapioca chips are great for pre-dinner snacks as an alternative to prawn crackers. All natural Maxi from Indonesia.

The pork and bean curd rolls were my own creation after I noticed some sheets of bean curd at the Asian grocery store and thought I could do something. It was pork cut into “matchsticks” and marinated in rice wine-splash, peanut oil-splash, sesame oil-teaspoon, soy sauce-splash, and potato flour-teaspoon. Next was a couple of sliced chinese sausages. They come in plastic packs and are sweet and tasty. Very roughly chopped Straw mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts and spring onions. All ingredients cooked together in a wok with some cooked glutinous rice mixed in for volume. Now lightly steam or moistened the bean curd sheets and cut into 15cm x 15cm, place a heaped tablespoon of the mix in the middle and roll like a very fat spring roll. Steam in a steamer for 10 minutes and serve. Very tasty but the mix of chewy, crunchy and soft textures is marvellous.

Hmm think I’ll finish this later. Tata! back later
….
Ah yes. The Szechuan chicken recipe is here. However this time I kept it whole and gave it a stuffing of chinese sausage, shiitake mushrooms, glutinous rice, garlic, and spring onions. Cooking it flat seems to get a better response but the stuffing was good. Forgot to put oyster sauce on the bed of steamed chinese greens which made them a little dry.

Glutinous rice is great but needs to be soaked for the good part of a day so keep that in mind. Otherwise leave to soak in hot water. I cooked one lot in the steamer to go with the beef and tofu, just wrap it in a towel. After drying a batch out on a tray and stir-fried it with garlic and spring onions in the fat from the chicken’s roasting tray. Yum. Beef cooked slowly with garlic for two hours, well you can imagine how good that was. And the fried tofu held up well.

Crayfish (from Rottnest from Doctor A) matched well with the spring onions, ginger, and rice wine and I like the idea of deep frying the crayfish pieces for 10 seconds before stir frying them.

Finally the Unsuccesful Annin Tofu started as a simple condensed milk and almond essence “tofu” became coconut milk thanks to the free banana giving shop lady’s persuasive powers. Then layers of kiwi fruit and passionfruit but I read that agar agar gives a tougher jelly so I backed off a little and ended up more on the soup end. Ah well.*

As for the dinner, well it was fun. Chris and Crafty came along. As did the doctor and Anna. A thank you to them all for the drinks, gifts and company. A diverse night of chat, neighbourhood yoof threatening (bone tweezers!), and an altercation with a coffee plunger.

dinner party seating

* feck!
Note: Those paying attention will have noticed that many of the ingredients are remarkably similar. Hey? Hey? See what I’m getting at here?

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hotsoursoup

Hot shopping day and felt like something spicy and limey that wasn’t a pertsovka, lime, and tonic. Made this little soup with what I had. You’re clever people, I don’t need to tell you how much of each thing do I?

Chicken Balls: (too late, joke’s been made) – hand minced free range chicken thighs; minced red chilli; minced spring onions; 1 tbs flour; 1 egg; sesame oil; soy sauce;. Mixed together well and dropped into soup with two spoons.

Soup: base of softened chopped onion, garlic, chilli and ginger. Then chicken stock; 2 star anise; fish oil; soy sauce.

Finish: Before serving put the stems of choy sum in the soup to cook a little. Serve the soup, add the leafy ends and two quarters of lime and serve.

Nice job, had the desired contrasts in a spaced out taste arena. Flaming Lips.

Also: Thanks to those who nominated spiceblog in a couple of categories* in the 2004 Food Blog Awards at the Accidental Hedonist. Made me turn bright red and coy. Nominating people is gut wrenching for me, it’s like Sophie’s Choice but without the accents.

And: a big hello to readers in Merredin and surrounding districts.

* -Best Food Blog / Best Post / Most Imporved Spelling. You can still get over there and say things like “yep” “hands down” and “without a doubt”.

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A pleasantly calm and warm spring evening had my sister and brother-in-law over for a BBQ. Feeling low maintenancy after discovering why I never make terrines, I thought I could give my charcoal burner a go and sit around and have some satay chicken. Still impressed by the Melbourne Gado Gado I was made, I thought I’d have that too.

I was going to just have bought sauce but I found this recipe on the net and the writer shamed me by regarding even using peanut butter as a “so-called shortcut”. Bastard. There are bits of peanut everywhere now but it was good. Pretty much as the recipe says but one lime instead of lemon and sambal olek instead of the chilli powder and shrimp paste.

Chicken Satay

3 Free range chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces with the following marinade one small onion, knob of ginger, 4 garlic cloves – finely grated; juice of one lemon; 2tsp sambal olek; 2tbs brown sugar; and

1/3 cup of soy sauce
. Served with a sauce of equal parts Hogan’s Satay Sauce and a small can of coconut cream simmered for 8 minutes.

Sat around the table and cooked the satay sticks and ate the gado gado with rice and then moved on to some top notch beef and bacon and then chicken kebabs made by Jean. Finished with a bottle of Krinklewood 2002 Botrytis and a rowdy game of Pop-Up Pirate.

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To reassure those who have come to the conclusion that my oven’s died and I’ve been stringing the inevitable out dead 80′s Soviet leader like a stream of consciousness dinner which turned out well enough was last night had mum cloud rabbit

What

2 free range chicken breasts – cut into large chunks; 3 cloves of garlic -chopped; 2tsp cumin; 4 large field mushrooms – sliced; olive oil; salt and pepper.

How

Saute garlic and chicken until coloured, seasoning with cumin and salt. Add mushrooms and stir occasionally until soft. Pepper. Served with steamed broccolini.

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