Chicken with a Tarragon Cream Sauce

Chicken with a Tarragon Cream Sauce

Following my last post’s unusual tarragon and lamb combo comes a much more traditional one of tarragon and chicken, courtesy of my work chum Laura who tipped me off to this delicious recipe while we were raving about our mutual love of tarragon and James Martin, whose recipe this is. As you might expect from the cuddly host of Saturday Kitchen this dish doesn’t stint on the cream, but it’s absolutely luscious as a result and after one mouthful Hubby was already demanding that I make it again!

The only change I’ve made to Mr Martin’s original recipe was to halve the amount of chicken used so that we could have all that lovely sauce over rice for two 🙂 Hubby and I are a pair of ‘jup’ monsters after all…

It’s possibly one of a handful of supper recipes that doesn’t use onion and/or garlic which I have to admit gave me a wee cause for concern, but the wine base and the tarragon are so full of flavour that I didn’t miss the otherwise ubiquitous bulbs a bit.  The lack of the usual vegetable prep work also makes this a really quick and easy supper to rustle up which, given how damn tasty it is, only makes this recipe better still!

Getting the chicken skin crispy on the hob is essential, not quite duck skin crispy but make sure it’s browning up nicely before it goes in the oven. The honey will do the rest of the work, not to mention adding a lovely sweet note to the dish without overpowering it.

Thanks again Laura, this one’s definitely a keeper 🙂

Chicken with a Tarragon Cream Sauce
Serves 2
Chicken in a too-easy-to-be-so-tasty tarragon cream sauce.
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Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 2 chicken breasts, skin on
  2. 1 tbsp runny honey
  3. 75ml/2.5fl oz medium dry white wine
  4. 150ml/5fl oz chicken stock
  5. 2 sprigs tarragon
  6. 150ml/5fl oz double cream
  7. 2 tbsp chopped tarragon
Cook!
  1. Get the oven on and preheat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
  2. Place a roasting tin or shallow casserole over a high heat and brown the chicken breasts in a little oil, making sure the skin side starts to crisp. Season, turn skin side up, and pour over the honey.
  3. Pop in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Turn the oven off, and then remove the chicken breasts to a plate and cover with foil before popping back into the now turned off oven to keep warm while you make the sauce.
  4. Pour off any excess fat from the roasting tin (or shallow casserole) before placing on a high heat again. Add the wine, scraping the pan to make you sure you get all the lovely juices from the chicken, and bring to the boil. Reduce until the alcohol has all burned off and there’s only a couple of tablespoons of liquid left in the pan.
  5. Add the stock and two sprigs of tarragon and bring to the boil again, until the stock has reduced by a third. Next, stir in the cream and bring to the boil again, allowing it to reduce a little before removing the sprigs of tarragon.
  6. Finally, add the freshly chopped tarragon to the sauce and check the seasoning, adjusting if required, and then serve over the chicken.
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Tarragon Lamb Meatballs in a Tomato Basil Sauce

Tarragon Lamb Meatballs in a Tomato Basil Sauce

We seem to be eating a lot of lamb at the moment, not that I’m complaining as it’s such a fave in our house, and since we’re smack bang in the middle of Scottish lamb season it seems a shame not to indulge!  So here’s another recipe from my #whambamthankyoulamb afternoon with QMS, and one I’ve been looking forward to making again to check it was as tasty as I remembered. It totally was if the happy smile on Hubby’s face is anything to go by 🙂

This recipe wins on taste and effort and really is perfect for a midweek make. The meatballs take next to no time to roll up and can even be done in advance and left in the fridge for a few hours until you’re ready to cook. The cherry tomatoes and fresh basil lend the sauce a freshness that I promise you’ll come back for, and if – like me – you’re thinking that tarragon and lamb is an odd combination let me assure you that it really really works. Really.

Tarragon Lamb Meatballs in a Tomato Sauce
Serves 4
Lamb and tarragon meatballs make for a quick and tasty supper.
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Prep Time
50 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
50 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 500g lean lamb mince
  2. 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  3. 1 large white onion, finely diced
  4. 1 slice of stale white bread, grated or zizzed into crumbs
  5. 1 egg, lightly beaten
  6. handful of fresh tarragon leaves, gently chopped
  7. 25g fresh basil
  8. 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  9. 200g cherry tomatoes
  10. pinch of sugar
  11. splash of balsamic
  12. 400g penne pasta
  13. salt and pepper to season
  14. 50g parmesan shavings (optional)
  15. CSI-style vinyl gloves (optional)
Cook!
  1. Mix the lamb, half the garlic and onion, breadcrumbs, egg, a pinch of salt and pepper and tarragon leaves. Get those CSI gloves on if you have them and roll yourself 12 golfball-ish sized meatballs. Cover with clingfilm before popping into the fridge for 30 minutes or so – the fridge bit is optional and you can skip it if you’re rushed, but it does help the meatballs hold together better when you’re cooking them. Not a mealbreaker if you can’t.
  2. While the meatballs are chilling, preheat your oven to 200 °C/400 °F/gas mark 6. (If you’re skipping the chilling then probably best to do this bit first.)
  3. If you have a casserole that is as happy in the oven as it is on the stove (and vice versa) then you can do this all in one pot. If you don’t, do your frying in a standard frying pan and then transfer to a casserole for the oven, or just cook the whole thing on the stove.
  4. Put some oil in your casserole or pan and cook the meatballs in batches until they are mostly browned all over but not cooked through. Remove to a plate (with kitchen roll to soak up some of the excess oil) and set to one side.
  5. Drain the oil from the pan, then gently sauté the rest of the onions and garlic for a couple of minutes before adding the chopped tomatoes. Season with salt, then add a pinch of sugar and a goodly splash of balsamic vinegar to cut through the acidity of the tomatoes. Bring up to the boil and leave simmering for 3–4 minutes.
  6. Next, return the meatballs to the pan along with the cherry tomatoes and basil. Give it all a gentle stir so as not to break your meatballs, and bring to a simmer. Once it’s simmering, pop a lid over it and place in the oven for about 20–25 minutes (or leave on top of the stove for the same amount of time).
  7. Cook your pasta according to the instructions on the packet and drain so that it’s ready when the meatballs are.
  8. Remove the pan of meatballs from the oven. For best noms, remove the meatballs from the sauce onto a plate and then add the drained pasta to the pan and mix well with the sauce. Add the meatballs back in and mix again so that everything is coated in the tomato sauce.
  9. Plate up, sprinkling over some parmesan shavings and a few sprigs of basil. Serve up, and marvel at the unusual but totally tasty marriage of tarragon and lamb 🙂
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Lemony Scotch Lamb Fillets

Lemony Scotch Lamb Fillets

Lamb is my favourite red meat, hands down. Roast has to be lamb, curry has to be lamb (but pathia or kofta?), and the pie has always got to be shepherd’s, never cottage. So when I got invited by Quality Meat Scotland to an afternoon of sharing their new recipes for cooking Scotch Lamb with Scottish food bloggers I couldn’t say yes quickly enough! And what a fantastic afternoon it was, and not just because it culminated in a plate of this 🙂

Hubby works for Scotland Food & Drink so we usually try to shop the Scottish options when we can (he makes me put things back if they’re not Scottish, honestly!!) but I learnt a couple of things at the Scotch Lamb afternoon that made me even more determined to shop Scottish when it comes to lamb.

Did you know…

1. that to qualify as Scotch Lamb, the wee bleaters have to have spent every day of their lives in Scotland – born, raised and processed?
2. that Scotch Lamb was one of the first red meats in Europe to have been granted the Protected Geographical Indication status?
3. that apparently we Scots eat only half as much lamb as the English…! #gobsmacked!

Scotch Lamb is just coming in to season now and the season continues until February/March, so there really isn’t a better time to tuck in and support Scottish, ESPECIALLY since it’s Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight right now!  Not to mention all those nasty food miles you’ll be saving…

But back to the afternoon! It was held at the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School where we got to watch one of their chefs demonstrate three fairly different recipes, all using different cuts of Scotch Lamb. The first was a Lamb Biryani, which went against convention and used neck for a relatively quick cook – delicious! Second was Lamb Meatballs with Penne… I had never heard of of using tarragon with lamb before but it is a properly winning combination and one I can’t wait to try again – deliciouser! Last, and zomg not least, was the Lemony Lamb Fillet which was the most delicious dish of the three! It’s not a cut of lamb I’ve ever cooked with before, but that is going to change…

What I loved about all three of the recipes, other than the downright tastiness of them, were just how quick and easy they were to cook. And to prove it wasn’t just because the chef was good at her job we all got to pick one of the three dishes to try cooking ourselves right there and then (fyi, the Lemony Fillets seemed to be most everyone’s favourite!). It also gave all of us a chance to chat while we cooked, which was awesome as some of the bloggers were ones I’d been following for a while so it was kind of like meeting my blogging heroes 🙂

Socialising and eating aside, I came away from the afternoon wondering why I’d never really thought about cooking lamb for midweek suppers, but I realised that all of my lamb recipes are real labours of love that are better suited to the weekend. Not anymore! In fact, I’m already planning on making those tarragon meatballs tomorrow, they were that good.

If you’re interested in checking out the official recipe it’s here, along with all the other new Scotch Lamb recipes which I recommend having a peek at, but I’m going to write this up the way I cooked it on the day because it was absolutely lush, properly melt in the mouth stuff, and I don’t want to change a thing 😉

#WhamBamThankYouLamb

Lemony Scotch Lamb Fillets
Serves 2
Tender lamb, rubbed with garlic and lemon, cooked on the griddle and dribbled over with mint sauce.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 300g Scotch lamb fillet, all fat removed and sliced lengthways into three strips
  2. Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  3. 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
  4. 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  5. 2 tsp olive oil 300g new potatoes, halved if large
  6. 20g butter
Bought mint sauce OR…
  1. a large handful of fresh mint leaves
  2. 1 tbsp sugar
  3. 1/2 tsp salt
  4. 75 ml cider or malt vinegar
Other stuff you’ll need…
  1. pestle and mortar, or a small bowl and rolling pin (or spoon)
  2. griddle pan, or large frying pan
Cook!
  1. First things first, set your griddle pan over a high heat and leave it until it’s searing hot and literally smoking. Start a saucepan of water heating too – new potatoes, unlike their larger non-new brethren, should go into hot water and not cold apparently.
  2. While you’re waiting, rub the olive oil onto the lamb and then loosely sprinkle over half the lemon zest and garlic before pressing the flavouring lightly into place. Give it all a good grind of black pepper and then turn over and do exactly the same to the other side.
  3. As soon as the water is boiling, lightly salt and then drop in your potatoes and leave them on the boil for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until they’re tender.
  4. Next, make the so-ridiculously-easy-you’ll-never-buy-it-ready-made-again mint sauce. Finely chop the mint and put into the mortar or a small bowl, sprinkle the sugar and salt on top and then crush to release all that lovely minty juice from the leaves. If you don’t have a pestle and mortar, the rounded end of a rolling pin will do the job just as well, or failing that, squash it all together firmly with the back of a spoon. Add the vinegar – you might want to hold some back and taste first, adding more vinegar until you hit your preferred sweet/sour mix – and stir together well. Set aside until needed.
  5. By now your griddle should be smoking hot, perfect for searing the lamb fillets and giving them that lovely chargrilled flavour. Sear for about 2 to 3 minutes per side which should be enough to leave the middle perfectly pink but not bloody (if it’s too pink, just pop it back on the griddle pan for another minute or 2).
  6. THE IMPORTANT BIT! When you remove the fillets from the pan, cover with foil and leave to rest for about the same amount of time the lamb was cooking, so between 4 to 6 minutes depending. This allows all the lovely juices to be reabsorbed, giving you a far far juicier eat. Don’t be tempted to skip this and tuck right in, your lamb will be drier for it.
  7. While the meat is resting, drain the potatoes and then return them to the hot pan. If you’re not quite ready for them yet just pop the lid on to keep them warm.
  8. When you are ready, add the butter to the pan and break the potatoes up with the back of a fork so that they’re less mashed and more bashed. Plate the potatoes and then slice your lamb fillets and lay on top. Finally, daub with the mint sauce, and then tuck in.
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Pan-fried Cod in Butter with Caramelised Lemons

Pan-fried Cod in Butter with Caramelised Lemons

My newly discovered love of cod continues! So far I’ve only been brave enough to eat it after I’ve popped it in a sauce, but cod has this amazing buttery flavour even when buried under a tomato sauce or a curry sauce that I just knew could stand up all on its own without too much fussing.  I was right 🙂  As far as simple suppers go, and Summer suppers too, it really does not get much simpler than this, or tasty, helped by a generous squeeze of caramelised lemon.  I’m sure that cooking this in butter isn’t the healthiest option but the butter is just for the pan, and helps the cod get those lovely brown bits from frying.

This is another one of those starter recipes that has a wealth of flexible possibility. You can pimp it up with some crushed garlic, or herbs, and it goes great with mash or couscous or a side of spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino (garlic, olive oil and chilli).

My problem with fish was never knowing when it was cooked. It’s not like chicken or meat that changes colour, white fish is white when it’s raw and still white when it’s cooked. Not very helpful for a fish novice… I’ve found that about 10 minutes total does the job, and when the cod flakes easily with a fork then you’re definitely good to scoff.

The other thing that put me off cooking fish for so long is the smell, and being convinced that how it smells will be how it tastes. My mum taught me her trick, which is to pat as much of the moisture off the fish with kitchen paper, and it works like a charm. Alternatively (or if you’re really cautious like me then in addition!) lightly salt the fish and pop in the fridge for at least 15 minutes and that should draw the excess moisture out. Doing either or both of these, and eating it on the day you bought it, will stop the cod from tasting bad fishy, I promise.

I personally prefer cod to other white fish, it’s so wonderfully inoffensive if you’re not a fishy fish fan, and loins to fillets, they’re fatter and tend to be more uniform throughout so easier to get an even cook. Don’t cut your pieces too small, bite sized is bad, or else they’ll flake apart in the pan. And if your loin has a pretty side and a not so pretty side, cook the pretty side first so that when you dish up it’s the side that faces up. Food is as much about the looking good as the tasting good 🙂

Pan-fried Cod in Butter with Caramelised Lemons
Serves 2
Fresh flaky buttery cod that needs nothing more than a squeeze of caramelised lemon.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 500g cod loin, cut into pieces about a hand’s length
  2. 3 tbsp cooking oil
  3. 1-2 tbsp salted butter
  4. salt
  5. chicken powder – optional
  6. 1 lemon, halved
Cook!
  1. Lightly salt the side you’re going to cook first. If you have chicken powder then lightly sprinkle that over the fish loins too.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat until it starts to bubble – using an oil/butter combo stops the butter from burning if the heat gets too high – and then place the fish pieces down, salted side first. Then add the lemon halves to the pan, cut side down.
  3. After five minutes, gently lift a piece of fish to check if it’s got some lovely brown bits going on before flipping it over (invest in a fish slice, honestly!) and leaving for another five minutes, or until the cod flakes easily with a fork.
  4. Dish up with a caramelised lemon half on the side for squeezing all over, and enjoy 🙂
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Jambalaya

Jambalaya

My kitchen is a happiest when there’s something spicy going down in it. I actually don’t think there’s much that Hubby and I cook that doesn’t involve some sort of spice, whether it’s of the fragrant variety or the heated.  This delicious recipe is full of both, and while it may look like quite the longest ingredients list don’t be put off by that as you can premix the dry spices ahead of cooking so it really isn’t as complicated as it might look, and the end result is well worth it.

A bit like the questionable authenticity of my Fish Creole, this jambalaya is more “Creole” than Cajun (it’s a tomato, or lack of, thing apparently!) and one of my favourite suppers that Hubby makes.  That said… it’s never quite the same twice because Hubby just can’t leave well enough alone, bless.  So this version is a foodie snapshot of how he makes it now. It’s not quite the way he made it six months ago, and no doubt it won’t be quite the way he makes it six months from now, but it is always delicious no matter how much he tinkers with it 🙂

You can make this with any combo of prawn, chicken, smoked sausage, ham hock or chorizo.  Hubby tends to go with two, three max, one of which is inevitably chorizo – it just adds another layer of flavour that compliments the paprika in the dry spice mix.  Fresh chorizo is okay but it has to be really good quality otherwise dried is better, just remember to peel off the tough outer layer of skin if you’re using dried chorizo before cooking with it.

Hubby eats this with potato salad… for seriously… He swears it’s a recognised accompaniment, and a quick Google seems to back him up, but that’s just one carb too many for me (something Hubby never thought he’d hear me say!).  I like to give mine a good squeeze of lemon all over instead, the sourness is a lovely counter balance to the spiciness of the Jambalaya.

As to why I like this quite as much as I do?  There’s lots of rice, which is always made of win in my book, the flavours are crazy intense, and it reheats really nicely the next day, which is just as well as there’s always tons of leftovers!

Jambalaya
Serves 4
A comforting bowl of rice, creole style, full of spice and all things nice.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 1 red onion, diced
  2. 1 white onion, diced
  3. 1 green pepper, diced
  4. 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  5. 2 dried chorizo sausages, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  6. 1 package smoked sausage, cut into bitet-sized pieces
  7. 1 can tomatoes
  8. 2 tbsps tomato ketchup
  9. 2 tsps dark soy
  10. 1 tsp fish sauce, more to taste
  11. a few dashes of Maggi liquid seasoning (optional)
  12. a drizzle of Ketjap manis (optional)
  13. 1 beef stock pot/cube dissolved in 2 pints boiling water
  14. additional water to top up
  15. 1.5 cups long-grain rice
  16. 1/2 tsp garlic granules
  17. 1/2 tsp onion granules
  18. 1/2 tsp thyme
  19. 1/2 tsp oregano
  20. 1/2 tsp chilli powder (mild)
  21. 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  22. 1/4 tsp celery salt
  23. 1 tsp ground coriander
  24. 1 tsp heaped smoked sweet paprika
  25. 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  26. salt & pepper to season
  27. Plus oil to cook
  28. Lemon wedges and/or potato salad to serve
Cook!
  1. Heat a drizzle of oil in the stewpot on a medium heat and cook the chorizo until lightly coloured. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Do not drain the oil from the stewpot.
  2. Add a bit more oil to the stewpot and bring back up to medium heat. Add the onions and peppers, lightly salt and stir to coat for about a minute. Turn the heat down and continue to cook gently for about ten minutes, stirring occassionally.
  3. Turn the heat up again and add the smoked sausage to the onion and pepper mix and cook for a few minutes before adding the garlic. Stir well before adding the tomatoes, dry spice mix, ketchup, soy and fish sauce. Stir again.
  4. Next, tip in the rice and mix well. Cover with the beef stock, stir, and add a bit more water to top up if need be. You don’t want it too wet, but it needs to have enough liquid to cook the rice.
  5. Bring everything to a boil before covering and reducing the heat until you’ve got a low simmer. Leave for 30-45 minutes, stirring after the first ten minutes. You may need to scrape the bottom to free any stuck bits of rice but this is ok, the caramelised bits of rice just add to the flavour mix.
  6. Stir every twenty minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is moist and tender. Serve hot.
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Fish Creole

Fish Creole

I’m not entirely convinced that this recipe is in any way authentically creole, but it is authentically delicious and isn’t that what really matters 😉  It’s also another one of my mum’s recipes that I’ve been cooking since Uni (at least) but I’d always made it with chicken…  Until now!  Mum made us her fish version last month and the whole family were completely converted, so much so that I don’t think I’ll ever make it with chicken again – tasty as that was, with fish it’s even tastier 🙂

This is a properly comforting dish and is perfect for chasing this last lingering bite of winter away.  The warmth of the paprika and chilli just goes so well with the garlicky tomatoey stew, and its heartiness is a perfect contrast to the delicate flakey buttery cod.

Speaking of butter… This is a dish that loves butter, and lots of it.  I’ve tried subbing corn oil in an attempt to make it healthier but ended up with a pale shadow of the real thing, so much so that I’d rather not have it if I can’t go all out on the butter in a James Martin stylee (!)  My compromise, then is to just not make this too often 😉

If you do want to make it with chicken instead then use thighs not breast (so much more flavour!), keep the pieces pretty big and sautee off to seal and brown before cooking in the stew for 30 minutes.

PS – how cute are my little fishy bowls!  They’re actually measuring cups but serving fish in them was too good an opportunity to miss!!

Fish Creole
Serves 2
Cod in a rich, spicy, garlicky tomato stew, comfort food Creole style.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
55 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
55 min
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 400g cod fillets (or other firm, white fish)
  2. 1 white onion, sliced (chunky rather than fine)
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 green pepper, cue into vaguely triangular shapes
  5. 1 can chopped tomatoes
  6. 1 tsp paprika (not smokey!)
  7. 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  8. 1 chicken stock cube or pot
  9. pinch of sugar
  10. butter
  11. juice of 1 lemon
  12. white flour
  13. salt and pepper
Cook!
  1. Put a wok, or large saucepan, over a medium-high heat and melt a generous tablespoon of butter until it’s starting to bubble and saute off your onions for a couple of minutes until the edges are starting to brown. Add the green peppers until the skin has blistered a wee bit and then add the garlic and saute for another minute or two, taking care not to let the garlic burn.
  2. Add the tomatoes, spices, chicken stock cube and a generous pinch of sugar. Fill the empty tomato can about a quarter full with water and give it a good swirl to pick up any last bits of tomato, and add.
  3. Now, the measurements I’ve given for the spice is probably a little cautious. That and I’ve long since stopped using actual measures of spice for this dish so don’t actually know what the measures are! Taste and add more parpika and/or chilli to suit.
  4. Leave the tomtoey stew to simmer away for 30 minutes.
  5. When the time’s up, pat the cod fillets on kitchen roll until they’re as dry as you can get them – this stops them from tasting fishy (apparently!) Cut the cod into generous sized chunks, about 2 inches by 2 inches which should hold them together while cooking. Shake some flour onto a dinner plate and season with salt and pepper. Roll your fish chunks in the flour to just coat them, and then lift out with a shake to get rid of any excess flour.
  6. In a frying pan, melt another generous tablespoon of butter and as soon as it starts to bubble lay your fish chunks gently in the pan. Give them 2-3 minutes and then gently turn over. The flour should colour up nicely so that you’ve got some lovely brown bits on the fish. Give the other side 2-3 minutes as well and then move the pieces of fish from the frying pan into the tomatoey stew. Add the lemon juice and then give everything a gentle stir before leaving to simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Add a final tablespoon of butter to give the sauce a lovely glossy sheen, stirring until it melts.
  7. Serve on a bed of fluffy white rice, and try not to think of all that butter… 😉
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/