Friday, 11 December 2015

No-Fuss Chicken Casserole

It's cold. It's winter. You're short on cash and need to feed at least three people something warming, filling and reasonably healthy. Casseroles and Stews are staple diet for us all at this time of year, and Chicken Casserole is really simple and tasty, and best of all, it can make use of all the leftover vegetables in your fridge.

You will need the following ingredients:

1kg Chicken Thighs or Drumsticks (or a mix of both)
1 large Leek (you can substitute an Onion if preferred)
2 large Carrots
3 sticks of Celery
4 Garlic Cloves
2 Chicken Stock Cubes
Rapeseed Oil

Utensils Needed:

Large Casserole Dish with Lid
Frying Pan or Cast Iron Skillet
Chopping Board
Chef's Knife

First off, preheat your oven to Gas Mark 4 (350° Fahrenheit / 180° Celsius). Secondly, it's entirely a matter of personal preference whether or not you bone the chicken thighs first - i tend not to, as i find chicken on the bone turns out much more tender. Either way - you want to fry them in a little Rapeseed oil in the Frying Pan, just brown them on either side - no need to cook them all the way through.

While they're sizzling away, chop up the rest of your vegetables. Don't slice them too finely - we're looking for nice, hearty chunks.


Once you've finished chopping things, the chicken should be just about ready to turn over. Give it another 2 minutes or so, then transfer the chicken to the casserole dish, taking care to keep the fat you've just used in the pan. Add the Garlic, Leek and Celery with the Thyme and a grind of salt to taste. SauteƩ for at least 5 minutes - until the Leek is starting to caramelise (excuse the fat splatters - i swear i cleaned the hob just minutes before this! :( )

With the veg on the go, all you need to do now, is boil the kettle, add the stock cubes to a measuring jug and decant 400ml of water into it. Stir until the cubes are entirely dissolved, and add to the casserole dish with the carrots.

Put the lid on, and stick it in the oven for 1 hour. You can leave it a little longer if you want less liquid, but you need to at least check it beforehand to make sure the sttock hasn't boiled away - i've made this mistake and nearly ended up ruining it!

At this point, all that's left is to serve. You don't need to add anything as a side dish, but if you're wanting to stretch it a little further - a little rice goes well with it.

As always, enjoy yourself, and enjoy the casserole! :D

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Sweet Potato & Cumin Soup

Okay, i know i've been kind of slacking on this one. I've had the writeup done for a while, but every time i've made it i've always forgotten to photograph the steps. However, i have now actually taken at least ONE photograph (this post will be updated with more, when i make it on the weekend), here is the recipe at last!

Soups are usually classed as a winter warmer, unless of course you count Gazpacho. However, in hot weather, when you don't want to eat anything too heavy or rich - this fits the bill wonderfully.

Sweet Potatoes are plentiful, cheap and you can easily feed four people for less than £5 with this simple recipe.

You will need the following ingredients:

Two Sweet Potatoes
One Large Onion
One Red Bell Pepper
Olive Oil
Smoked Paprika
Ground Cumin
Chicken or Vegetable Stock Cube

Utensils Needed:

Large Chefs Knife
Wooden Chopping Board
Pyrex Oven Dish with Lid or Cling Film
Large Saucepan
Potato Masher
Hand Blender

To prepare the potatoes and skin them with ease - slice them through the middle and place face down in the oven dish. Add around 2cm of water to the dish and cover. Microwave on full power (700w) for 13 minutes. You may need to do this in two batches if your microwave/dishes are small enough.

Once removed from the microwave, the skin should be easy to remove - simply pinch the skin on one end and peel backwards. Leave the potatoes to cool a little and move on to the onion.

Chop the onion as fine as you can, and add to the saucepan with a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of ground cumin and a teaspoon of smoked paprika. Sweat the onions until they're soft and translucent & add a pinch of salt to taste.

At this point, add the potatoes and mash them.

Put the stock cube in a jug and add a litre of boiling water. Dissolve the stock cube and add to the pan with the potatoes and onion. Stir thoroughly and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Take off the heat and blend to a smooth consistency with the hand blender before serving.

For a nice finishing touch, grill some streaky bacon until it's crispy, then chop up finely, sprinkle on top and add a grate or two of parmesan and a teaspoon of single cream.