Chicken and chips

That is what the Other Half announced he wanted for dinner. Chicken and chips. Helpfully accompanied by stating we had plenty of mushrooms and he’d bought some cream to make a sauce with. So off I set.


Chicken breasts
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp parmesan
1 tsp oil
20g butter
Finely sliced onion
100g Mushrooms
Splash of white wine
75ml chicken stock
200ml double cream
Black pepper

First of all I decided I was going to pan fry the chicken. Usually I’d either cook it in the oven or poach it but today for some reason I decided pan frying was the way to go. Whilst the oil and butter were heating up, I put the chicken in a bowl, added the flour and parmesan, covered with cling film and shook it all up until the chicken was well coated. Add to the frying pan and cook until brown on both sides and cooked through. As I had chips in the oven, I put the chicken in the oven to finish cooking through whilst I made the sauce but that did involve getting another pan dirty, something I try to avoid wherever possible!

To make the sauce use the same frying pan and finely slice the onion with a mandolin, cook on a low heat until softened and just starting to colour, then add the mushrooms. Cooked for two to three minutes then add a splash of wine (normally this is roughly the same as the volume of stock but I never measure so it was what was left in the bottle) and allow it to reduce until hardly any liquid left. Then it is time to add the black pepper and stock, which needs to reduce by at least half. Turn down the heat and add the cream, stirring until well combined and then allow to cook through for a few minutes.

The chicken was then served on top of some of the sauce with chips and peas. For a healthier version, I’d use crème fraiche instead of cream, stir the peas into the sauce just after the stock and serve with pasta and other veg instead. Other less healthy alternatives include adding bacon at the same time as the mushroom and serving with home made chips, roast potatoes or parmentier potatoes. Sometimes ease and speed take priority, tonight was one of those nights!

Cooking on gas

This weekend we were at the Beaulieu International Autojumble. Essentially this is three fields full of enthusiasts and auto related businesses selling everything from model toys to motoring clothing, cars to car parts and pretty much everything in between.

I was working on a stall with the Other Half and the small person. Friday was dinner at Buckler’s Hard and the rather lovely pub that’s onsite.

Breakfast was generally bacon sandwich and Saturday night dinner was cooked on a two hob gas stove in front of our stall. Usually we would barbeque but currently it is a) broken and B) the replacement is with my mother in Lincolnshire. Time to come up with something filling, easy and vaguely interesting, preferably something that can be cooked in one pan. Introducir la fajita.

A quick trip to the supermarket furnished us with the basics:

Pack of tortilla wraps
Pack of chicken breasts
Onion, finely sliced
Mushrooms, sliced
Pepper, sliced
Fajita spice
Clover Cooking Spray

Using a fry pan we coated the bottom with cooking spray (flavoured with garlic in this case) and fried the chicken for 10 minutes or until cooked through and slightly browned, I sprinkled over the spice about half way through. The chicken was then stored in the grill pan under the hobs in our gas stove. Onions were then well softened in the same frying pan, with peppers and mushrooms thrown in towards the end. Once they were all cooked, I combined it with the chicken again until it was all piping hot.


Whilst it looked fairly classy for an outdoor (and very basic) meal, it was actually one of the easiest, quickest meals one the filling was piled into the middle of a wrap. Can have been too bad, the Other Half had four and the small person had three!


Posh rice and chicken

Garlic and herb roule stuffed chicken wrapped in prosciutto served with a mushroom and bacon risotto. It is still just chicken and rice. It is, however, quite a nice chicken and rice dish!


3 chicken breasts
6 slices of prosciutto
Garlic and herb roule (you could substitute for any flavored cream cheese)

1 onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 tbs fresh thyme
2 rashers bacon
Mushrooms (as few or as many as you feel like)
White wine (about a glass for cooking, the remainder for the chef)
1.5-2 litres of vegetable or chicken stock
Butter (lots!)
250g arborio rice

The first thing to do is get all your ingredients cut up and ready. Risotto is a wonderful dish and actually easy to cook, but it is labour intensive and you really don’t want to be trying to stuff chicken, chop mushrooms and stir risotto all at the same time. Trust me on this, I have been there many times. The first thing I usually do is fry off whatever I want to add to my risotto so bacon and mushroom in this case, you can do this whilst the risotto is cooking but I prefer to get it out the way and just heat it up before I’m ready to add it. Get the oven on to pre heat (Gas Mark 7), prepare your chicken and, finally, melt some butter in a nice big saucepan.

Chicken wrapped in proscuitto

Chicken: get rid of any pent up aggression by covering with clingfilm and bashing it with a rolling pin until it is an even width (not too thin so don’t be over exuberant). Take a very sharp knife and slice a pocket in it, put your filling of choice into this pocket – a tablespoon of the roule is just about right for us. Once stuffed, lay out two of your slices of prosciutto and wrap it around a chicken breast. Repeat until all breasts are covered! Get a healthy size knob of butter melting.

There are several alleged ‘secrets’ to good risotto, nicely softened onions, good stock (use the best you can, during the winter I do try to make my own but not with any regularity, I use Bouillon powder as a general rule), frying the rice before adding the stock and so on. I have found that softening the onions (most importantly without browning them) had made a huge difference so once that butter is melted, throw in the onions. I use a mandolin to slice my onions which means they end up sort of absorbed into the risotto rather than a separate texture and/or taste, which I prefer in this case. Let the onion soften over a low heat, boil the kettle and make the stock up in a saucepan you can keep on a low heat too, and once you are ready to put the chicken in that pre-heated oven for 20ish minutes depending on their size, add the garlic to the onions. Give the onions and garlic another minute, turn the heat up slightly and add the rice.


Stir. You’ll be doing a lot of this but that’s what encourages the starch out the rice and gives that nice creamy texture. At this stage though you only have fat and rice, you are lightly toasting the rice until the ends are translucent. I never know if I do this for long enough but it’s generally no more than a couple of minutes, certainly not long enough for it to start sticking. Having poured yourself a glass of wine, pour a small glass into the risotto and stir until nearly all the liquid is absorbed then add two ladlefuls of stock to your pan.

Stir. And again. You don’t have to stir constantly but enough to stop it catching on the bottom of the pan and enough to encourage that starch out. Once you can drag your spatula or wooden spoon over the bottom of the pan and the risotto flows back like a wave at a beach, then add another ladle. Repeat the process of adding a ladleful and stirring in for about 20 minutes, at some point add the thyme leaves. As it’s relatively hardy, I added them at the same time as the first of the stock. For a more delicate herb I’d wait until the end. When the risotto is ready the grains should be soft but firm in the middle. Turn out the heat, add as much parmesan as you fancy (about a tablespoon for me), another healthy knob of butter and the bacon/mushroom mixture. Stir until the butter is melted and then cover and leave for one minute. By now your chicken should be ready. Serve on a warmed plate.


Stuffed chicken with risotto

I had this with an Italian white wine called Fiano and available from Naked Wines. It was a nice enough match but not enough to wow me, I think the flavours of the chicken may have overwhelmed it slightly. It’s a shame as it’s one of my go to wines and I enjoyed it without food as well.