Boursin-stuffed chicken wrapped in Bacon

Boursin-stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon - blog header 150915

We eat a lot of chicken in our house and sometimes I get a little bored with my regular recipes.

The recipe I’m going to share below was cooked up by my good friend Lozza and it has been mentioned so many times in my circle of friends that it has turned into a bit of a mystical beast. A few had tasted it during a round of postpartum meal rotas and raved about it. Others, like me, had only heard just how tasty and easy to cook it was, and I thought it a bit unfair to have to listen to the tones of near reverence of those who had been lucky enough to try the dish.

Anyway, I had all the ingredients at home last week, so I thought I would give it a go. I reached out to the author herself and she confirmed there’s really nothing to it. Despite the presence of Boursin, it’s not a strictly a French or British recipe, instead, we are making a foray into European cuisine, darlin’.

Ingredients

Boursin chicken ingredients

  • Four chicken breasts (or boneless thighs)
  • One garlic & herbs Boursin
  • smoked streaky bacon, enough to wrap around each piece of chicken
  • 150 mls chicken stock

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.
  • Slice a side of the chicken breasts into a pocket and put a generous spoonful of Boursin (or just open the thigh and roll it in).

Step 2

    • Wrap bacon around the chicken tightly to keep it closed.

Step 3

    • Place the chicken in a casserole dish.
    • Pour the chicken stock over the meat.
    • Close the lid tightly over the dish and bake for an hour.

Step 4

  • Serve with Dauphinoise potatoes, new potatoes or rice and some green vegetables of your choice.

I wasn’t sure how the girls would respond to a garlic-flavoured cheese but they both devoured it and asked for extra sauce. It’s fair to say this recipe was a complete success and I am adding it to my regulars. Thank you Lozza!

Even better, there is still half of the Boursin left…

Boursin stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon

Yes, I like my potatoes. Two whole dinners you say? Naaah

 

Indian food for beginners: the Biryani night

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It’s been a while since I last posted about my Indian food experiments, mostly because we haven’t hosted a curry night since moving. This one was very much a spur of the moment; apparently I’m an impulsive cook, in as much as I try to make the most of my ‘I really fancy cooking’ moments and invite someone as soon as possible, preferably before the creative rush has faded. In the space of one afternoon, I went from ‘I don’t know what we’re having for dinner’ to ‘let’s have a guest over and eat chicken biryani I’ve made from scratch’. Because I like to live on the edge, there was no chicken in the house so I prepared everything hoping Badgerman would come back from his band practice early enough with the chicken…

I love hosting around food.  We were in excellent company and I think chicken biryani might be my favourite. I don’t know what it is about a good meal that relaxes people, but it’s always helpful to gather people around a focal point, and food always works, whether it’s crisps or a barbecue. It does help when the recipe is solid and basically fool-proof as well, and again The Spicery didn’t disappoint. I’ll be forever surprised by how glossy their chutneys turn out, and I would never have guessed the rose petals on top of the rice would be anything but overkill. Seriously, why would you want to make rice glamorous? The answer is simple actually: because it works.

biryani ingredients

chicken biryani ingredients (minus the chicken)

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the tomato chutney and chicken marinade

the tomato chutney and chicken marinade

Indian Food For Beginners: October Butter Chicken Night

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For his 40th birthday, my gift to Badgerman was to host a Curry Night for four, once a month for the next 6 months, cooking everything from scratch using the recipes and fresh spices provided by The Spicery. As I am a complete novice at making Indian food and generally using spices, this was definitely going to be a labour of love and also the perfect foil for a blog series, which I introduced a couple of months ago.

My baptism of fire came in the form of a Tandoori Night in September. Today is the second installment.

I’m really pleased that I have started this journey into using spices with what are considered to be simple classics like tandoori and butter chicken. I don’t know how I would have felt if I had to jump right in with, say, the Lamb Dhansak that’s coming up at the end of November.

A NEW DESIGN

Before I get into the dishes proper, I just have a couple of thoughts about the new design, which was introduced this month.

new spicery design 271014

Instead of a cardboard box, I received a colourful folder made of sturdy plastic designed to contain the recipes and easily fit on a shelf with other cookery books, as well as cunningly double up as recipe holder. I think it’s a very attractive piece of kit.

There is one flaw that is hard to pass by, and that is in the design of the recipe cards themselves. Instead of a rectangle of card, it folds into a ‘V’ shape that you cut to open to access the spices. Unfortunately, I lost a couple of lines of the method at the bottom as they ran into the fold I was supposed to cut so it’s a bit of a mess. Still it looks fab and on the whole works really well.

spicery design photo 271014

THE COOKING EXPERIENCE

I really liked this one, and got to cook Butter Chicken, Kachumbar Salad, Gobi Aloo, Pilau Rice and Raita.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a dish called Butter Chicken. I’d never heard of it before and it sounded a bit boring to be honest. Badgerman was equally confused and thought it would be similar to one of the heavier cream-based dishes like korma or passanda.  It turns out that butter chicken is what you do with your leftover tandoori and it’s amazing. There’s butter in it as could be expected, but also yoghurt from the tandoori marinade, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, a little bit of cream thrown in at the end and of course lots of other spices, in particular fenugreek, which I had never tasted before and was really delicious.

butter chicken pics

And this here is why this experiment is so satisfying to me. In the process of cooking these dishes, I am handling spices I’ve never heard of, let alone cooked with: fenugreek, Kashmiri chilli, amchur, ajowan, nigella seeds… Granted, I didn’t prepare them myself, but at least now I know what they smell like. I also cooked cauliflower for the first time in my adult life, having previously decided that life was too short to ever eat such hideous fare, and it was fine of course. I’ll still only ever eat it in a curry though, or at a push in a cheese sauce made by someone else.

I had a bit of a hairy moment when I realised that the chilli had completely split whilst cooking and I feared that the Gobi Aloo would be way too hot for me but my mouth survived pretty much unscathed.

IN SUMMARY

Badgerman and our two lovely guests (who provided ice cream for dessert, yay!) all loved this curry. This is definitely one I would do again. I also really appreciated the addition of the crunchy salad and raita to cut through the richness of the dish. The Pilau rice was nothing like what I usually make using the basic supermarket spices, and I didn’t ruin it, which is pretty good going considering my track record of turning rice into mush.

We finished everything off with the ice cream, and our guests left happy, which is all you can hope for, isn’t it?

On another note, Date Night anyone?

The Spicery have introduced a new Date Night deal that’s already got me thinking about next year’s Valentine’s dinner. The kit includes the recipes and spices to prepare a three-course meal for two consisting of a starter, main and dessert. Next month is Arabian Night with a mezze starter, marinated lamb with saffron rice and a rosebud and cardamom milk pudding. All I can think is: ‘I want to make that!’. That should warm the heart of their marketing director.

Indian Food For Beginners: September Tandoori Night

Tandoori Night Sept 2014

For his 40th birthday, my gift to Badgerman was to host a Curry Night for four, once a month for the next 6 months, cooking everything from scratch using the recipes and fresh spices provided by The Spicery. As I am a complete novice at making Indian food and generally using spices, this was definitely going to be a labour of love and also the perfect foil for a blog series, which I introduced last month. Below is the first installment.

We finally hosted our first Curry Night dinner party yesterday evening. I was a bit anxious because I would be cooking this entire dinner with the guests already in attendance but as it turned out, I shouldn’t have worried: it wasn’t at all difficult to make and was a complete success. So let’s just see what happened, shall we?

The dishes, the sights, the smells, the experience

 

I made Tandoori Chicken, Dum Aloo (a potato and tomato dish), Cucumber Raita, a Tomato and Onion Salad and Mango Chutney. I also made some rice on the side and we bought some Naans and Poppadoms.

The results were pretty phenomenal. The mango chutney in particular looked stunning with rich golden colours and an attractive gloss. It was also really simple to make (if you have the spices, that is).

Mango chutney

All the recipes were very easy to follow. Preparation included, it took only 1 hour and 30 minutes to make everything from start to finish. All the dishes were delicious and very fragrant without setting fire to my mouth. I am a complete lightweight when it comes to heat, and there was only a slight kick here and there (I did not break the long chillies into pieces on purpose, although I could have done). Badgerman, who can and will withhold a much stronger heat than I ever could, later admitted he was grateful that he would not be getting any curry sweats after the meal, as he is a teacher and that’s not something you want to burden kids with on a Monday morning.

I only had two issues, if you can call them that. One was with the mango chutney. I started the cooking process at medium heat and it probably was a bit too low and wasn’t caramelising or thickening the chutney properly. When I did turn up the heat, it transformed the dish into a very beautiful thing.

To make the Dum Aloo, I first had to peel 1 kg of baby new potatoes. Have you tried to peel a potato the size of a golf ball? It’s a tedious pain in the arse, that’s what it is. On the other hand, my friend Jenny was wonderful and despite being the guest, lent a hand so we got the job done in no time. Other than that, it was actually my favourite dish of all. I cooked the potatoes and tomatoes in a large pan and the spiced water reduced and turned into a thick sauce in 30 minutes. I will definitely make this one again.

In Summary

The whole thing was superb, very fragrant without being too hot (for my taste). I can’t wait until next month when I make Butter Chicken, which is apparently ‘a more sophisticated version of chicken tikka masala’.

tandoori spread Sept 2014

A most versatile chicken stew recipe

chicken stew recipe

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while, as it is one of my go-to, most used method for making chicken stew. It is my own take on a Chicken Forestière, which is just a fancy French term for chicken and mushroom stew. The cunning thing with the cooking is that once you know the basics, you can bend it to your will by using any vegetable you have lying about the kitchen. If you don’t have any mushrooms or bacon or herbs, it will still taste good. You can make the most basic recipe with chicken, onions and stock and it will be lovely, or you can turn it into a dinner party winner by adding all sorts of delicious things to enhance it, like using wild mushrooms for example. You can even change the stock to a tin of chopped tomatoes and you have turned it into a Spanish chicken stew. It is literally the most versatile recipe I know.

Note for slow-cooker lovers: the prep for this dish is a little bit more time-consuming than just putting everything in a slow cooker but only by about 25 minutes, and the result will be worth the extra effort. It is still pretty much fool-proof, unless you are known for being able to carbonize fried onions, in which case, slow cooker all the way my friend.

Note on the ingredients: all the ingredients which are there purely to make it tastier but will not drastically change the recipe if omitted are in italics.

Note for baby-led weaning: this recipe is suitable for blw, just cut the carrots into long sticks and omit the salt.

In which you only get a picture of the pot because it was all gone by the time I remembered to take a picture

In which you only get a picture of the pot because it was all gone by the time I remembered to take a picture

Ingredients

  • 1 kg of chicken: the cheaper cuts i.e. thighs and drumsticks. They’re much tastier than the breast anyway.
  • 4 slices of smoked bacon, diced
  • 75 mls dry sherry or white wine (use water if you don’t have any, but it’s ‘almost’ required)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 350 g chestnut mushrooms
  • Assorted root vegetables: carrots are the best, but otherwise courgettes, swede, celery, red peppers, etc
  • 40 g plain flour
  • 500 mls chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 100 mls single cream (this one is the most optional of all)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Method

1. Season the chicken with salt & pepper. In a large flameproof dish (I use my Le Creuset but any deep casserole pot will do), heat the oil and a bit of butter to a fairly high heat and brown the chicken and bacon pieces on all sides. Transfer to a side dish.

Chicken1

2. Pour off any excess fat from the flameproof dish. Return it to the heat and brown the sediment. Pour in the sherry or wine and stir with a flat wooden spoon to deglaze. Pour the liquid over the chicken pieces and set aside.

Chicken4

3. Fry the onion with a knob of butter or a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil on a medium heat until they start to colour and soften. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently for 6-8 minutes or until their juices start to run.  Whilst this is happening, prepare the stock.

3.5 If you are going to go with a tomato base rather than the stock for a Spanish twist, ignore step 4 altogether, pour in a couple of tin cans of chopped tomatoes and a glass of water and head over to step 5)

4. Stir the flour into the onion and mushroom mix then remove from the heat. Gradually add the stock and stir well so the flour is completely blended in.

Chicken6

5. Add the reserved chicken, bacon and juices, return to the heat and stir to thicken. Add all your other ingredients (vegetables and herbs) and keep a medium heat. Once it starts to simmer, cover with the lid and leave to cook for at least one hour (one hour is sufficient, but I would recommend an hour and a half so the meat falls off the bone). It may feel like there is not enough liquid as it might not cover all the ingredients but don’t worry, the vegetables will generate their own moisture and add to the final sauce.

Chicken9.1

6. If you want a richer sauce, stir in the cream in the last 30 minutes. (not if you’ve put tomatoes though, that would be gross)

7. I would normally serve this stew with rice and baby corn but you can serve it with new potatoes, which you can add to the stew at the same time as the vegetables so they all cook together.