Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Paprika and Honey Marinaded Chicken

I've been sitting on this recipe for months. I first made this back in December, but was in the middle of a blogging slump so it just sat on my camera, waiting for me to write it up. If you make it in advance, it's a reasonably quick and very delicious weekend meal. The lovely smokey warmth of the paprika infuses the chicken while the honey adds a subtle sweetness.

It is basically comfort food. Smokey warmth and tender chicken that falls off the bone. Perfect for cold, rainy, so-called "spring" days when all you want to do is curl under a duvet, watch the rain fall against the window panes, and huddle up under a blanket while watching old films.

 Ingredients (Serves 2):
1 spatchcock chicken or two half chicken pieces
125 ml olive oil
125 ml lemon juice
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons honey
1 dsp smoked paprika
1 dsp mixed herbs

In a mixing bowl, add the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, smoked paprika and mixed herbs and crush in the garlic. Mix together until well combined, then place the chicken skin side down in a roasting tray and pour the marinade over the chicken.

Marinade the chicken for at least an hour at room temperature, or alternatively, cover and place in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before roasting.

Preheat the oven to 180°C, flip the chicken so the skin faces upwards, baste, cover the roasting tray with foil and then roast for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove the foil, baste the chicken and cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Recover and leave to stand for 5 minutes, then serve. I served this with a cous cous, butternut squash and tarragon salad, which was delicious. 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Duck with Red Wine and Cranberry Jus

I must admit, normally I hate the word "jus" - it is pretentious and really, little more than a fancy word for gravy. So I apologise for using it here. In my defence, this isn't really gravy, as gravy to me has some of the juices from the bird or animal roasted and sauce just doesn't seem to quite cut it in this instance. So, pretentious "jus" it is.

This was the main course for the husband's birthday meal. I had asked my uncle for inspiration, and he came back to me with a wonderful salmon and cauliflower recipe, but sadly R hates cauliflower so it wasn't to be. I resorted to an old French bistro classic - duck with savoy cabbage and mash (I later learned that R doesn't much like cabbage either. Fusspot).

The beauty of this recipe though, is that it is surprisingly quick to prepare if you've done your prep. I made the sauce in advance and just heated it up when ready to eat, and had the cabbage sliced and potatoes peeled and boiled ready for mashing. If you prepare properly, the dish can be put together in 20 minutes, so it is worth investing a little extra time.

Ingredients (serves 2):
For the duck:
2 Gressingham Duck breasts

For the mashed potato:
2 medium baking potatoes
50ml whole milk
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
25g butter

For the cabbage:
1 Savoy cabbage
50ml of tap water
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp butter

For the red wine and cranberry jus:
300ml chicken stock
300ml of beef stock
200ml red wine
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tsp redcurrant jelly
Salt and pepper

Begin by making the red wine and cranberry jus.  Add the chicken and beef stock, red wine, thyme, bay leaf and redcurrant jelly to a pan and simmer until reduced by two thirds. season with a little salt and pepper, then strain out the thyme and bay leaf. Set aside until ready to use.

Next, make the mash: peel the potatoes and boil for about 20 minutes or so, until tender. While the potatoes are boiling, preheat the oven to 180°C, ready for the duck. Push the potatoes through a potato ricer or mouli - I pushed it through twice, once on a larger setting and then a second time through a fine mesh for a silky smooth mash. Beat in the milk, mustard and butter, then cover and keep warm.

Finely slice the cabbage ready for cooking, then score the skin of the duck with a sharp knife and  heat a frying pan with a little oil. Fry the duck skin side down for 6-8 minutes dependent on the size of the breast, then flip over and seal the other side for 30 seconds. Place the duck breasts skin side up on a baking tray then roast for a further 6-8 minutes.

Once the duck is roasted, remove from the oven, cover with foil and leave to rest for 5 minutes. While the duck is resting, warm through the jus and the mash, place a couple of plates in the still-warm oven to warm up, then melt the oil and butter together in a sauté pan, then add the cabbage and 50ml water and cook for 2-3 minutes, until just tender.

To plate up, remove the plates from the oven, place a scoop of mash on the plate, then add the cabbage and then arrange the duck, sliced, neatly on top of the cabbage and carefully pour the jus round the edges of the plate.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Scallops with Butternut Purée and Sage

My husband doesn't really do birthdays, which for a long time has caused a little bit of a struggle between us. My family sees birthdays as an excuse to spoil and pamper the birthday boy or girl, which R is somewhat unused to. I think we've finally managed to strike the right balance, with me cooking him a nice meal and giving him not too many presents.

On previous years, I've taken him out to various restaurants to celebrate, but having finally realised that he would actually rather not go out, I thought I'd bring the restaurant experience in-home and have a go at a much more refined style of cooking.

For a starter, I made the recipe below. I absolutely adore the combination of sweet, roasted butternut squash and crispy, fragrant sage. Scallops too are a little mouthful of heaven when briefly seared on either side so they melt in your mouth. As a combination, all three go deliciously together, and it looks delightful too. For me, perfectly cooked scallops will always have that "wow" factor.

Ingredients (serves 2):
300g squash
olive oil
50ml chicken stock
6 scallops
a few sage leaves
25g butter
1 tsp pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 160°C, then peel and dice the squash into approximately 1" cubes. Coat with a little olive oil, and season with salt and pepper then roast for 30-40 minutes until tender. Push the squash through a potato ricer or whizz it up in a blender with a little chicken stock then sieve it and keep warm.

Dry fry the pine nuts until golden and set aside, then pat dry the scallops and season with a little pepper. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan and when sizzling hot, sear the scallops for about 90 seconds on each side. While the scallops are cooking, melt the butter in a pan and fry the sage leaves until crisp.

Arrange the scallops on a dollop of butternut puree, then drizzle with the sage butter and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top. Serve with a delicious glass of crisp Viognier.