Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle soupChicken noodle soup from a takeaway can be a gloopy, tasteless affair full of MSG but don’t let that put you off making it yourself.  The key to packing flavour into this soup lies in the quality of the stock.  Making your own is best, if you buy it you may need to boost it a little with a spoonful of vegetable bouillon powder.

I made this soup for a crowd (the recipe has been scaled down) so I started the day before with a whole chicken which I poached.  I then removed the meat from the carcass, roasted the bones for half an hour and returned them to the pot with a couple of bay leaves, a carrot, two celery sticks and a leek.  I left this concoction to simmer gently on the Rayburn for about 4 hours before straining and leaving to cool.  This gave me a great flavour base to start with and is worth doing if you have the time.  If you are only cooking for small numbers freeze any leftover stock and use the rest of the chicken in a salad or a pie next day.

The recipe below uses just a chicken breast (you don’t need much meat) and is a short cut to similar results.

Ingredients

(Serves 4 as a starter)

1 large Boneless Chicken Breast (skin removed)

900ml / 1 ½ pints Chicken Stock

100g / 4 oz Rice or Soba Noodles

Small piece of fresh Root Ginger

1 Clove of Garlic

100g / 4 oz Mushrooms (I used Shitake and Enoki)

2 Spring Onions

2 tsp Soy Sauce, (plus extra for serving)

1 Red Chilli

A handful of Coriander

Method

Pour the stock into a pan. Finely chop the ginger and garlic and add to the stock along with the chicken breast. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes until the chicken is just cooked. Remove the chicken from the pan and shred it using 2 forks.

Chop the spring onions, slice the shitake, separate the enoki mushrooms and add to the stock along with the shredded chicken. Season with the soy sauce. Add the noodles and simmer until they are cooked (just two or three minutes) .

Ladle into bowls and scatter over the remaining spring onions, herbs and chilli shreds if using. Serve with extra soy sauce for sprinkling.

 

 

 

Guinea Fowl with Puy Lentils

Guinea Fowl with Puy Lentils

I confess this was the first time I had either cooked or eaten guinea fowl. It’s not something you see in the shops every day but my amazing butcher got one in for me. You probably have an amazing butcher near you too – go in and make friends.

If I am honest, if I thought of guinea fowl at all, I thought of it as a game bird but it’s not – it is a domesticated, farmed bird and it is available all year round. And it is delicious.

How can I describe the flavour? You know how everyone describes new food as tasting like chicken? Well this does – only it tastes like the most chickeny chicken you have ever had – like condensed chicken, sort of chicken but more gamey. That’s all I have – try it and tell me what you think.

I made it using a recipe I have used many times before with chicken (and you can of course use chicken if you prefer – simply adjust the cooking time depending on the size of your bird). If I am honest it makes this dish very rich and if I made it again I would probably leave out the cream – it just doesn’t need it.

The other good thing about guinea fowl is that one bird is the ideal size for two people so this dish is perfect for a romantic dinner à deux.

 

Ingredients

1 Guinea Fowl

100g /4 oz Bacon Lardons

1 Carrot

2 Sticks Celery

1 Onion

2 Bay Leaves

1 bunch Tarragon (chopped)

1 tbsp Chopped Parsley

100g / 4 oz Puy Lentils

100ml / 4 fl oz Dry White Wine

225 ml / 8 fl oz Chicken Stock

1 tbsp Olive Oil

A generous Knob of Butter

1 lemon

2 tbsp Double Cream

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4

Wash and drain the lentils – set aside.

Heat a large frying pan and pour in the oil and butter. Season the guinea fowl all over with salt and pepper and place in the frying pan. Gently brown on all sides and then remove from the pan and set aside.

Fry the lardons in the same pan until golden and beginning to crisp. Finely dice the carrot, onion and celery (this is called a mirepoix – just in case you were wondering) and add it to the bacon. Cook for 10 minutes until the veg softens a little. Stir in the lentils, wine, chicken stock, bay leaves and half the tarragon. Bring to the boil then transfer to an oven proof dish (choose one that will look good on the table too).

Place the guinea fowl on top of the veg and lentils and cover with a lid or some tin foil and put in the oven for an hour. Once cooked remove from the oven and lift out the guinea fowl – set aside to rest for five minutes. Meanwhile taste the lentil mixture, adjust the seasoning and stir in a good squeeze of lemon juice, the rest of the tarragon, the parsley and the double cream.

Nestle the bird back into the dish and serve.

 

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Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken Recipe

This dish makes for a really simple, tasty mid-week dinner.

Chicken and lemon really are a match made in heaven and this is a really lemony chicken dish.  I used chicken legs because I like the rich flavour of the dark meat but also because chicken legs are so much cheaper than breasts which means you can buy great quality, free range chicken without breaking the bank.  If you prefer you can use chicken thighs – you can even use boneless chicken thighs if you don’t like to faff about with bones but the bones do add flavour.  This marinade also works well with chicken breasts or a whole roast chicken.

I originally intended to add garlic to the marinade but found that I had run out and not noticed – I don’t think that has ever happened before – no garlic in the house? Unheard of!  Even more shocking (well to me anyway) is the fact that I actually preferred this dish without the garlic – it lets the lemon really shine through.

I served the chicken with cavolo nero (because I think I am developing an addiction to it) and potato wedges (well the oven was already hot) but it would work just as well with noodles and pak choi.

However you make it, tweek it and adjust it – enjoy.

Ingredients

4 Chicken Legs (or 8 thighs)

2 Unwaxed Lemons

4 or 5 large Sprigs of Thyme

2 large sprigs of Rosemary

1 tbsp Honey

1 tbsp Olive Oil

Method

Season the chicken well with salt and pepper and put it into a large, sealable plastic bag.

Finely grate the zest from both the lemons and place in a bowl. Juice the lemons and add the juice to the zest. Strip the thyme leaves from their stems, strip the rosemary and finely chop the leaves; add the herbs to the bowl with the lemon juice. Stir the marinade and pour over the chicken, seal the bag and massage to work the flavours into the meat. Leave to marinate for 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6.

Remove the chicken from the bag and place on a trivet over a roasting tin and drizzle with the olive oil.

Roast for approximately 20 minutes then baste with the rest of the marinade. Return to the oven for a further 20 minutes. Drizzle the chicken legs with the honey and put back in the oven for 5 more minutes or until the skin is crisp and the juices run clear.

Chicken thighs will take less time to cook (approximately 30 minutes in total).

 

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Satay Chicken

Ingredients

4 skinless chicken breasts cut into thick slices.

1½ tbsp groundnut oil

For the sauce

3 heaped tbsp smooth peanut butter

1 tbsp chilli bean sauce

2 cloves garlic

A 2cm piece of root ginger

1 red chilli

A handful of coriander

2 limes – juice and zest.

2 tbsp light soy sauce

Salt & pepper

Method

For the sauce, put all the sauce ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until it is very hot, then add the groundnut oil and the chicken pieces and stir-fry for five minutes until the chicken is browned.

Turn the heat down to low, add the sauce and continue to stir-fry for another five minutes.

Arrange on warm plates garnished with cucumber and chilli slices.

 

Jerk Chicken

Jamaican Recipe

Ingredients

1 tablespoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes

2 teaspoons muscovado sugar

2 tablespoons runny honey

a small handful of flat-leaf parsley

a small handful of coriander

2 scotch bonnet chillies

1 garlic clove

a smallish thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

2 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 skinless chicken breasts

 Method

Put the chilli, garlic and ginger into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients except the chicken and pulse again until you get a thick paste. Don’t over do it – you want a bit of texture in there.

Put the chicken breasts into a sandwich bag and pour in the marinade. Massage well through the polythene – this saves you having to handle the marinade too much – those scotch bonnet chillies are pretty potent!

Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour or two – longer is better.

Place in a roasting tin in a hot oven (220°C / 400°F / gas mark 6) until cooked through but still moist around 25 – 35 minutes depending on the size of your chicken breasts.

Serve with mashed sweet potato.