Sunday, 11 June 2017

Roast Chicken Thighs on Conchiglie Pasta in Balsamic Tomato Sauce

Roast chicken thighs on conchiglie pasta in balsamic sauce

Roast chicken is probably not something often associated with being served on pasta but this combination does work very well. The chicken thighs are roasted simply in the oven with some seasoning before being served on a bed of conchiglie pasta in a rich balsamic and tomato sauce. 

Prepared sauce ingredients

Ingredients (Serves 1)

2 whole chicken thighs (skin on)
Salt and black pepper
4 baby plum tomatoes
1/4 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 large garlic clove
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Generous pinch dried basil
Generous pinch dried oregano
1 cup dried conchiglie pasta shells
Freshly chopped parsley to garnish

Directions

Put your oven on to preheat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Season the chicken thighs on the under/flesh side with salt and pepper and with salt only on the skin sides. Lay them skin sides up on a lightly oiled roasting tray and place the tray in to the oven for thirty minutes, or thirty-five minutes for especially large thighs. After this time, pierce the thickest part of each thigh with a skewer (or fork) and ensure the juices run clear. If not, return to the oven for five further minutes and test again. Lift to a heated plate, cover with tinfoil and allow to rest for ten minutes.

Combining balsamic sauce ingredients

When the chicken thighs have been in the oven for about fifteen minutes, pour the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar in to a small saucepan. Wash and dry the tomatoes before cutting them in half down through the centre. Add to the saucepan along with the onion slices before grating in the peeled garlic clove. Add the dried herbs and season with salt and pepper. Stir well with a wooden spoon and place the pot on a low heat until the liquid just starts to simmer. Maintain as low a simmer as possible for about fifteen minutes, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have broken down and a thick sauce is formed.

Drained conchiglie pasta

The pasta will take eight to ten minutes to cook, depending upon how al dente you wish it to be when it is served. It should be added to a large pot of heavily salted, boiling water, stirred briefly and left to cook for the desired period of time. It should then be drained through a colander or sieve and allowed to steam off and dry out for a couple of minutes.

Balsamic pasta sauce

When the sauce is ready, it will have changed colour, be really thick and gooey and the onion strings will be super soft.

Pasta is added to balsamic sauce

Tip the pasta in to the sauce and stir fold very carefully with a wooden spoon, so as not to break up the soft shells.

Pasta in balsamic sauce

Spoon the pasta in to a deep plate and spread out to form a serving bed for the rested chicken thighs.

Chicken thighs are laid on pasta in balsamic sauce

Lay the chicken thighs on top of the pasta and sauce, garnish with the chopped parsley and serve.

Enjoying roast chicken thighs on balsamic pasta sauce

Monday, 17 April 2017

Spicy Griddled Chicken on Roasted Veg

Paprika spiced griddled chicken breast on roasted vegetables

Griddling (grilling) meats of many different types indoors is an excellent way of ensuring your meal is served tender, juicy and attractive on the plate. Yes, it requires extensive ventilation of one type or another in your kitchen due to the smoke but the many benefits of cooking in this way far outweigh that one minor inconvenience. While beef steak is probably the most common meat cooked on a griddle or grill pan of this type, a simple bit of careful experimentation can bring wonderful dividends.

Vegetables are oiled and seasoned for roasting

Ingredients (Serves 1)

1 12 ounce tray of mixed Mediterranean style roasting vegetables*
1 large garlic clove
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Pinch of dried oregano
Pinch of dried basil
1 skinless chicken breast fillet
2 teaspoons (approximately) smoked paprika
Vegetable oil for grilling

*You can assemble your own choice of similar vegetables in a small roasting tray if your local supermarket does not stock oven ready trays like the one used in this recipe

Directions

Put your oven on to preheat to 220C/450F/Gas Mark 8.

While you're waiting for the oven to preheat, lay the chicken breast fillet flat on a chopping board and very carefully cut it in half horizontally with a cleaver or chef's knife. This is not difficult but obviously does require great care. It is best done by laying your free hand flat on top of the chicken as you slowly slice through it.

Sliced chicken breast fillet

Lay the chicken pieces on a large plate and scatter with the smoked paprika on both sides. Rub the paprika in to the flesh gently with your hands. Do not salt at this stage as the salt will draw some of the moisture from the chicken as it marinates and lead to it perhaps being served tougher than it should be. Cover the plate and set briefly aside.

Chicken is seasoned with smoked paprika

Peel the garlic clove and grate it in to the tray of vegetables. Season with the salt, pepper and dried herbs before drizzling with a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Stir carefully with a wooden spoon and place it on a roasting tray and in to the heated oven for half an hour.

Marinated chicken is oiled for griddling

When the vegetables are half way through their cooking process, start your cast iron griddle pan heating on the highest heat on your stove. It will take a few minutes to get smoking hot. Drizzle the chicken fillets with a little vegetable oil and ensure they are evenly coated all over but not excessively so. Remember always to oil the food when cooking in this way and never the pan. Season on both sides with a little salt and pepper.

Chicken slices are laid in smoking hot griddle pan

Lay the chicken fillets carefully in to the hot pan. They will take about three minutes each side to cook, depending upon their thickness.

Chicken is turned to cook on second side

Heavy duty cooking tongs are best used to turn the chicken. Never use anything made of plastic, such as a spatula, when cooking in a pan of this type.

Cooked chicken is briefly left to rest

Lift the chicken fillets to a heated clean plate when done, cover with tinfoil and leave them for a few minutes to rest until the vegetables are ready.

Roasted Mediterranean vegetables

Lift the roasted vegetables with a slotted spoon on to your serving plate and arrange the griddled chicken pieces on top.

Tucking in to super tender spicy chicken

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Curried Swordfish Steak on Turmeric Rice

Curried swordfish and sauteed bell peppers on turmeric herb rice

Swordfish was at one time only available in very specific parts of the world where the fish could be caught fresh. In modern times, however, with vacuum packing and freezing techniques, it can often and very easily be purchased online for delivery right to your door. The swordfish steak used in this recipe was bought in just such a way as part of a larger exotic meats and fish package.

The swordfish steak should be defrosted completely in the fridge overnight before being cooked.

Swordfish fillet is patted in curry powder and seasonings

Ingredients (Serves 1)

6 ounce skinless and boneless swordfish steak
2 teaspoons medium curry powder
Salt and pepper
4 ounces (half cup) or as desired basmati rice
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Vegetable oil for frying
2 teaspoons freshly chopped coriander leaf (cilantro) plus extra to garnish
1 garlic clove
Small handful mixed bell pepper slices

Seasoned swordfish is left to dry marinate

Directions

Spoon the curry powder in to a flat bottomed bowl or on to a small plate. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Pat the swordfish carefully all over in the powder to evenly coat, cover and leave to dry marinade for at least half an hour.

Rice is simmered in turmeric water

Put the turmeric in to a large pot and add around half a teaspoon of salt. Pour in plenty of boiling water and bring back to a simmer. Wash the  rice thoroughly through a sieve under running cold water at your sink and add to the simmering water. Stir briefly but well and bring back to a simmer for ten minutes.

Swordfish fillet is laid in frying pan

When the rice simmering time is almost up, pour a couple of tablespoons of oil in to a frying pan and bring it up to a medium heat. Add the swordfish to fry for an initial three minutes.

Swordfish fillet is turned to fry on second side

Drain the rice through the sieve at your sink and set it aside to steam off for a few minutes. Turn the swordfish steak to fry for three further minutes on the second side.

Garlic and seasonings are added to drained rice

Tip the rice back in to the empty pot and add the chopped coriander (cilantro). Peel the garlic clove and grate it in to the rice. Season with black pepper and stir well to combine the seasonings evenly.

Bell pepper strips are quickly sauteed in hot frying pan

Lift the swordfish steak to a heated plate to rest for a couple of minutes while you stir fry the peppers (seasoned with a little more salt and pepper) in the vacated pan for a couple of minutes.

Swordfish fillet is laid on rice bed

Arrange the rice on a suitable plate to form a bed for the fish and lay the swordfish steak on top.

Sauteed peppers are made to top swordfish

Lift the pepper slices on to the swordfish with cooking tongs, garnish with the last of the coriander and serve immediately.

Cutting in to curried swordfish steak

Friday, 10 February 2017

Curried Pork Fillets with Turmeric Potatoes

Pan fried curried pork fillets with turmeric potatoes, chickpeas and spicy sauce

Pork is probably not a meat we often find in the average restaurant or supermarket curry. Why that should be the case, I'm really not sure but the truth is it works very well in almost any type of curried dish. This incredibly simple recipe sees the pork fillets dry marinated in curry powder before being fried in the normal way.

Curry powder is scattered over pork fillets

Ingredients per Person

2 pork fillets
1 tablespoon medium strength (or as desired) curry powder
Vegetable oil for frying
3 tablespoons plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon medium chilli powder
1 teaspoon mint sauce
4 or 5 medium to large baby potatoes
1 teaspoon powdered turmeric
Salt and pepper
1 ounce (1/4 stick) butter
1 tablespoon freshly chopped coriander leaf (cilantro), plus extra to garnish
8 ounce can chickpeas in water
1 garlic clove

Combining spicy sauce ingredients

Directions

Scatter the curry powder on a dinner plate and pat the pork fillets in it on both sides to ensure even coating. Cover and leave for an hour to dry marinate.

Spicy tomato and mint sauce

Put the yoghurt, ketchup, chilli powder and mint sauce in to a bowl. Stir well, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until required.

Boiling potatoes in turmeric water

Wash the potatoes but don't peel them and cut them in half. Add them to a pot with the turmeric powder and some salt. Pour in enough cold water to ensure the potatoes are comfortably covered and bring to a simmer for twenty minutes or until the potatoes are just softened.

Frying curried pork fillets

When the potatoes are on to cook, pour a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in to a small frying pan and bring it up to a medium heat. Season the pork fillets further with some salt and pepper and fry over a low to medium heat for ten minutes each side or until done. Push the pan to a cool part of your stove and leave the fillets to rest while the remaining preparation is completed.

Butter and coriander is added to turmeric potatoes

Drain the potatoes through a colander or sieve and return them to the empty pot. Add the butter and half the tablespoon of coriander. Gently swirl the pot to evenly coat.

Garlic and coriander leaf are added to chickpeas

Drain the chickpeas through a sieve and rinse under running cold water. Add them to a pot of boiling water for two minutes before draining again. Return them to the empty pot and add the second half tablespoon of coriander. Peel the garlic clove and grate it in to the pot before stirring carefully but well.

Curried pork fillets, turmeric potatoes and chickpeas

Lay the pork fillets on a serving plate before adding the potatoes and chickpeas. Spoon the sauce over the pork and garnish with the last of the coriander to serve.

Spicy sauce is spooned over curried pork fillets

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Ostrich Burgers with Pineapple Salsa

Ostrich burgers with pineapple salsa and spicy stuffed baked potato

I came across these ostrich burgers quite unexpectedly a few nights back in my local supermarket and decided they were something I absolutely had to try. I have bought ostrich meat on several occasions previously and come up with a variety of recipes and serving suggestions but this was the first time I had seen these burgers. A quick pause for thought saw me decide to prepare a pineapple salsa as a serving accompaniment and a nice and spicy stuffed baked potato to plate alongside as the starch element of the dish.

Skewered and pierced potato

Ingredients (Serves 1)

1 medium to large baking potato
1 pineapple ring (canned in own juice), finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped red onion
2 small red chillies (seeded and finely diced)
1 garlic clove (peeled and grated)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of dried basil
Salt and pepper
2 ostrich burgers
Vegetable oil for frying
1 ounce (1/4 stick) butter

Potato wrapped in foil ready to be baked

Directions

Start your oven pre-heating to 220C/450F/Gas Mark 8.

The potato can be baked any way you choose but the way I like to bake a potato is by firstly inserting a metal skewer right through the middle lengthways. The heat conducted through the centre of the potato helps to make the inside extra soft and fluffy. The potato must also be pierced several times with the tines of a fork to prevent accumulating steam causing the skin to burst. I also like to wrap the potato loosely in foil to help protect the skin during cooking.

Sit the potato on a roasting tray and bake for an initial one and a quarter hours.

Pineapple salsa principal ingredients

Preparing the salsa as soon as the potato is in the oven allows the various flavours that little bit of extra time to infuse and makes for much better results at the time of service.

Pineapple salsa ingredients ready for combining

Put the pineapple, one of the chopped chillies, one teaspoon of the chopped red onion and the grated garlic clove in to a small stone or glass bowl. Season with salt, pepper and the dried basil. Drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil and stir well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until required.

Baked potato is cut in half

When the baking potato comes out of the oven it will of course be incredibly hot so great care, using oven gloves all the way through, is required for the next stage in the procedure.

Start by unwrapping and discarding the foil, being wary of escaping steam. The metal skewer should easily pull free from the softened flesh. Cut the potato in half lengthways with a very sharp knife.

Flesh is scooped out of baked potato halves

Use a teaspoon to carefully scoop the flesh from the centre outwards of the potato halves, leaving shells around half an inch thick. Put the scooped out flesh in to a small bowl.

Red onion and chilli are added to baked potato flesh

Add the butter to the potato flesh and mash well with a fork. Stir through the remaining red onion and red chilli, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Stuffed baked potato halves

Divide the mash combination between the two potato shells and return to the baking tray and the oven for fifteen more minutes.

Ostrich burgers

The cooking instructions for these ostrich burgers were detailed on the pack and such instructions should ideally be followed where provided.

Starting to fry ostrich burgers

The burgers were required to be shallow fried in a little oil over a low to medium heat for ten minutes. They should be turned frequently with a spatula.

Ostrich burgers and spicy stuffed baked potato halves

Plate the potato halves on opposite sides of a square plate and lay the burgers in between. Spoon the salsa on to the burgers and serve immediately.

Cutting in to spicy stuffed baked potato half