Hubby is the king of sandwiches (or, as he likes to call them, sammiches…). I suspect this is an American thing – I’ve yet to see anyone in an American show or film make a sandwich with less than what looks like the entire contents of their fridge! He also has a bit of a condiment fetish (understatement!) which means it’s rare for him not to have some flavour or other lurking in the fridge that is a must for the sandwich he’s making. Not that I’m complaining! Not when his sandwiches look, and taste, like this!
I will admit to being a little sceptical (understatement again!) when he said he was putting grapes in a sandwich, but they totally work with the chicken and their sweetness is a lovely compliment to the slightly smoky roasted pecans.
The other thing I love about this sandwich filling is that it’s not the laden with mayo version. Thanks to a clever substitution using 0% greek yoghurt this is actually a relatively healthy sandwich filling, honest!
And if you’re a packed lunch person then this is a great night-before make 🙂
Chicken Salad Sandwich
A fully loaded sandwich filling with sweet grapes and roasted pecans, made healthier by subbing greek yoghurt into the dressing.
Start by preheating your oven to 180C (160C if fan-assisted).
Poach the chicken first (if you're making to eat straight away then allow at least an hour for this). You can poach in white wine, white wine or cider vinegar, lemon juice etc. Top up with water to cover and then bring to a low boil. Boil, uncovered, for 15 minutes and then remove heat. Cover and set aside for 40 minutes.
While the chicken is doing its thing, spread the pecans out on a baking tray in one flat layer and pop in the oven for 7 minutes.
When the pecans are roasted, remove them from the tray and give them a few minutes to cool. Once cool, roughly chop (or place in a bag and lightly smash with a rolling pin), keeping the pieces big.
When the chicken has had its 40 minutes, lift out of the poaching liquid and dice into medium-sized cubes.
In a mixing bowl, mix the greek yoghurt, dijon mustard, and honey. You can add a teaspoon of salad cream here for a rounder flavour, but it's completely optional.
Add the diced chicken to the yoghurt mixture, season with salt and pepper and stir until well coated. Now add the halved grapes and the roasted pecans. Give everything a good mix and refrigerate for a few hours, or ideally overnight. This will allow the yoghurt to soak into the chicken and the flavours to mingle and settle.
Serve on a nice bread with some leaf lettuce and a few slices of tomato.
As the weather finally hots up (and not before time!), mealtimes start to be less about comfort and more about avoiding spending much if any time near a hot flame, but without skimping on taste. This old favourite ticks ALL of those boxes and is relatively well behaved to boot! It’s also a one pan cooking dish which always makes me happy 🙂
To be honest, there isn’t much that’s Mexican about this recipe… The only thing it has in common with actual fajitas is that they are both wrap based and hand held… There’s not even any guacamole or salsa in sight! But don’t let that dissuade you from trying this because what it lacks in Mexican authenticity it more than makes up for in tastiness.
The trick to this dish is to get that chargrill thing going. It might look like it’s never going to happen, but have faith and persevere (and drain off excess liquid if you have to!). The rewards are a sticky charred deliciousness of big big flavours thanks to the lime and chilli flakes, which marries perfectly with the sweetness from the peppers.
Chicken & Lime Fajitas
Wok charred chicken and peppers with zingy lime, all wrapped up in warm tortillas, that taste far more sinful than they actually are.
2 large skinless boneless chicken breasts, sliced into 1cm strips
1 yellow pepper, cut into 1cm lenthways strips
1 red pepper, cut into 1cm lengthways strips
1 red onion, cut into thick strips
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp crushed chillis
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 limes, 1 zested and juiced, 1 quartered for serving
4 flour tortillas
150ml 0% fat Greek yoghurt
salt and pepper
Coriander for garnish
Start with a large mixing bowl, into which place the chicken strips, peppers and onions, oregano, chilli, vegetable oil, and the lime zest and juice. Season well before giving everything a good toss-about until the chicken and veg is well coated with the herbs and lime.
Place a wok (or large non-stick frying pan, the deeper sided the better!) over a high heat until its just starting to smoke. When it's good and (fiercely!) hot, tip everything out of the bowl into the wok and cook for about 6-8 minutes, turning only occasionally until its looking cooked through - this is to ensure that everything gets good and brown with a lightly charred effect.
If there's too much lime juice or liquid, you might need to drain some of this off otherwise the chicken and veg will broil rather than char.
Turn the heat off and let the chicken rest in the work while you warm your tortillas in the microwave, or in a dry frying pan.
Pile the chicken and veg in the middle of your tortilla, top with some coriander (if desired), a dollop of yoghurt and a squeeze more lime juice if you like it properly zingy, and scoff!
In my neverending quest for lunches that don’t involve something dull stuck between two bits of bread I came across this recipe by The Cozy Apron on Pinterest, and immediately fell in like with it.
Persuading Hubby to try this was a doddle. He loves coconut almost as much as he loves variety so asking him to have a go at something new really didn’t require much persuasion at all…
That and there’s something fun about having finger food for lunch. Hubbyquite likes to raid the deli counter in summer and have a picnic, even if that’s indoors which given the usual state of Scottish summers is usually the case. But as it’s not summer yet (or even remotely close) we decided to indulge in some hot finger food, courtesy of this recipe which we tweaked just a wee bit.
The original recipe also had a honey-mango-mayo dip but it didn’t really work for us. I suspect that might have been down in part to the overpowering honey that Hubby had used, but I’m not comfortable recommending something I didn’t actually like so instead let me suggest a honey-mustard dip or maybe a sweet Thai chilli dipping sauce, or mix the Thai with some mayo. Or even have them just as they are because really, the flavour of the goujons themselves was fantastic what with the quite lovely savoury and sweet coconut coating.
If you’re harbouring any doubts, or looking at these and thinking nasty nuggets from the yellow arch, you couldn’t be further from the truth! Although these are deep fried they’re not even remotely greasy, and the chicken inside was perfectly done and properly tender. We had ours for lunch but they’d be just as good as a starter or a badly behaved snack 🙂
Crunchy Coconuty Chicken Goujons
Grown up chicken "nuggets", coated in coconut and insanely moreish
Into a medium-sized shallow bowl (we used a pasta bowl) put flour, a couple of pinches of salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp each of onion and garlic granules and a pinch of cayenne pepper and give it all a good mix. Into another medium-sized shallow bowl crack the eggs and beat. Spread the shredded coconut onto a dinner plate. Set all three side by side and in this order.
Fill the saucepan to half-way with vegetable oil and heat slowly up to 175C/350F.
Coat and cook!
While the oil is heating, cut each chicken breast into 4 strips, then cut those in half to give you 8 strips per breast of roughly equal size.
Place them into a bowl before adding 1/2 tsp each of curry powder, onion and garlic granules, another pinch or two of cayenne pepper, and then season with salt and pepper before tossing the strips so that they’re coated in the seasoning.
Take one strip at a time and roll in the seasoned flour you prepped earlier until the strip is coated well. Next, dip it into the beaten eggs, and finally press into the shredded coconut until both sides are coated thoroughly. Set aside onto a clean plate and then repeat with until all the strips have been coated.
When the oil is at 175C/350F add 4-5 strips of coated chicken to the oil and allow to fry for 1.5-2 minutes or until they are a deep golden colour. Remove and place onto kitchen roll to blot the excess oil, seasoning with salt and pepper while they’re still hot. Repeat until all the strips have been fried, taking care to check the heat between batches and reheat back up to 175C/350F if it’s dropped before adding more chicken – it’s the key to keeping the goujons from being greasy.
Dish up with the chives sprinkled over the top, something to dip on the side, and go to your tropical place 🙂
I’ve had this Nigel Slater recipe, courtesy of a blog called Simply Delicious, pinned On Pinterest for almost as long as I’ve had boards there. There’s just something about the blogger’s mouthwatering photo of the dish that made me long to a) make this, and b) in a lovely shallow Le Creuset. As I didn’t have a lovely shallow Le Creuset the recipe went unmade, but I’d look longingly at it on Pinterest every now and then, and then go and check the price of my object of desire in the vain hope there was a sale on. Patience finally paid off on Christmas day when Hubby managed to find one online for almost half price, so we splurged for it (it still wasn’t cheap!) and my beautiful new piece of cookware finally arrived this week. And I knew exactly how to christen it…
I love creamy white wine sauces. Once the alcohol burns off it leaves behind an awesome sweet note that just tastes of indulgence. And if there are mushrooms they always manage to soak that indulgence right up so that you get randomly intense hits of it whenever you bite into one. The chicken itself was perfectly tender and moist, which was a relief as we’d used chicken breasts rather than the acknowledged (and rightly so) more flavoursome thighs or legs.
Which reminds me!
Along with my lovely le crueset, I also got a fantastic Christmas present from an even more fantastic friend of a subscription to Cooks Illustrated – an American foodie mag – that had an article in it recommending that you start chicken and duck breasts skin side down in a cold skillet if you want properly crispy skin. It’s a French technique apparently, and gives the skin time to render its fat before the meat overcooks. I suspect I got impatient and turned my chicken too quickly, but even still the skin was definitely less soggy and sad than some of my previous attempts to brown it.
I’ve adapted the recipe to feed two to four by halving the ingredients in the original, so if you’re looking to make this for a larger group then it should happily scale up. And you don’t need a posh pan to cook it, a large frying pan should do just as well – I think a deeper sided pot like a stockpot, however, might now allow the alcohol to burn off as easily but that might just be me making stuff up (!)
We had this on rice which was absolutely perfect for soaking up all that delicious jup (an awesome Chinese word for sauce), not that my Chinese half is being biased or anything. And whilst January is supposed to be the month for under-indulging after the holidays, it’s miserable enough if you ask me without stinting on comfort food every once in a while.
Hubby had already requested this again before he’d finished his plate so it’s probably safe to assume this was a success! I’m giving at least half the credit for that to my lovely new Le Creuset 😉 If you fancy a look at Le Creuset’s beautiful casserole range, check their website out and prepare yourself for some serious cookware desire!
Coq au Riesling
Chicken and mushrooms in a lush white wine and cream sauce, comfort food in a French stylee.
Pop the butter and oil together in a large shallow pan or frying pan and while it's still cold place the chicken breasts skin side down. Turn the heat on and up to high and brown the chicken on both sides, then remove to a plate.
Turn the heat down to medium and in the same pan add the onions and bacon. Fry until the onions are soft and translucent and the bacon is browning nicely. Add the sliced garlic and fry for another 30-60 seconds before removing it all from the pan, tilting to leave as much as of the cooking fat behind.
Now add the mushrooms to the pan and fry for 5 minutes or so, until they've shrunk and started to brown. Then add the onion, bacon and garlic back into the pan. Season and give everything a good stir before popping the browned chicken on top, skin side up.
Add the wine and turn the heat up until it comes up to a boil. Give it a couple of minutes before turning the heat down so that the liquid is simmering. Cover and leave to bubble gently away for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, take the cover off and turn the heat up. Let it bubble madly for a couple of minutes and then taste. If it's still too boozy then let it bubble for another couple of minutes and taste again. Repeat until the alcohol has burned off (I probably needed 5 minutes or so) and season again if it needs it. Add the cream and cook for another 10 minutes, by which time the sauce should have thickened up a bit - if not, add a wee bit of cornflour mixed with cold water and stir through.
Finally, scatter generously with parsley and dish up.
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
Chicken in a too-easy-to-be-so-tasty tarragon cream sauce.
Get the oven on and preheat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Finally, add the freshly chopped tarragon to the sauce and check the seasoning, adjusting if required, and then serve over the chicken.