Chicken is a mainstay of many people’s diets but until recently it was not something that I ate very often. On the boat we eat quite a lot of chicken though, we always have lots of it on standby and when it isn’t requested by the guests, I cook it for the crew instead. And so, I have had to find some interesting recipes that make eating chicken once a week delicious and new every time. Here are four recipes that make people excited when I say we’re having chicken tonight.
Honey, Mustard and Balsamic Glazed Chicken
Chicken breast (bashed a little to make it nice and tender)
For the glaze: 2 tsp wholegrain mustard, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 2 tsp honey, 2 tsp balsamic glaze (or 1 tsp balsamic vinegar and an extra tsp honey), rock salt
Whisk together the ingredients for the glaze and then coat the chicken breasts in it. Bake for thirty minutes in an oven at 180 C. Do not turn or cover as the glaze needs to get sticky and thick. This is super simple and lovely with a bit of mashed potato and some green beans.
Mediterranean Baked Chicken
Chicken breast cut into strips (or boned thigh), artichokes in oil, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, red onion, whole cherry tomatoes, garlic, oregano
Slice the onions into wedges, pop them in a bowl with a jar of artichokes (retain the oil), a few sliced sun-dried tomatoes, and a handful of black olives and whole cherry tomatoes. Tumble together so the oil from the jarred veg coats everything. Put the veg into a roasting pan and put it in the oven at 180 – 200 C. Meanwhile. Griddle or fry the chicken to seal, season with lots of rock salt, black pepper and oregano, and then toss with the vegetables roasting in the oven. Roast until the vegetables are soft but crispy on the outside and the chicken is cooked through (depends on the size of your strips, but about fifteen minutes). Serve with quinoa, cooked to the instructions on the packet. I always cook it in stock rather than plain boiling water as it gives it a little more flavour, or I add the zest and juice of a lime once it has finished cooking.
Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pie
A rather scrummy winter warmer and one of my favourites. Can be served hot with mashed potato and greens or cold with some Autumn Chutney for lunch.
Leftovers from last night’s roast chicken OR a selection of thighs and legs, leek, lots of assorted mushrooms (freshly foraged perhaps?), tarragon (fresh is best), garlic, pre-made puff pastry sheet (the stuff is great kept in the freezer…stop looking at me like that, even my Baking Queen Nan uses it now), stock, flour, butter.
If you haven’t got cooked meat from your leftovers, roast the thighs and legs in the oven with lots of seasoning and a glug of white wine. While that’s roasting make the sauce for the pie. Make a roux from the butter and flour, equal quantities of each, melt the butter then stir in the flour and cook gently for a few minutes, then add hot stock a little at a time, whisking continuously over a low heat to avoid lumps. Set aside. Slice mushrooms and leeks, fry in a little butter with the garlic. Add a glug of white wine to this too as the mushrooms will soak up any moisture and taste fantastic. Add the tarragon and simmer gently until the wine has evaporated. Add the leeks and mushrooms to the sauce, with the pieces of cooked chicken (picked from the bones of the roasted legs and thighs if necessary) and mix well. Put in a pie dish and then top with the puff pastry sheet. Bake in the oven according to the pastry instructions, usually around twenty minutes at 200-220 C.
Chicken Caesar Salad
A classic salad that makes a tasty, healthy and filling lunch. Along with the pie above, its a great way to use leftovers from the Sunday roast chicken.
Chicken breast, cut into strips and bashed flat with a meat hammer OR strips of cooked chicken from last night’s dinner, anchovies, lettuce, rocket, Parmesan, croutons.
For the dressing: 2 tbsp mayonnaise, 1 tbsp mustard, 3 garlic cloves (chopped super fine, minced, or bashed in a pestle and mortar), handful of grated Parmesan, 3 anchovy fillets (mashed into a paste – possibly with the garlic), 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 cup of olive oil
Whisk all the ingredients together, except the olive oil, until smooth and creamy. While continuing to whisk, add the olive oil in a steady stream until the dressing is loose enough to pour but ensuring it has emulsified. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
Griddle the chicken if using chicken breast, season and set aside. Mix the salad leaves together with large shavings of Parmesan and top with a few anchovies. Pour over the dressing and toss together well. Top with chicken and croutons. Season well and add an extra drizzle of EVOO to serve.
Always buy free range, happy chickens from a reputable source. Your food will only taste as good as the ingredients you put in it so use the very best you can afford. Buying a whole chicken and roasting it at home can give you several meals with a variety of different ‘cuts’ of meat. Use the breast meat for your roast dinner and the thighs, legs and wings for leftovers. The bones will make a great stock for your gravy. sauces and soups. Its all about making the most out of the food you buy, and I can guarantee you’ll feel better about it if you use up the whole bird, respecting the animal that has died for your dinner.