Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Easy Jamaican Jerk Spiced Chicken Wings

Jamaican jerk spiced chicken wings are served with tomato, onion and a lemon wedge

Jamaican jerk chicken is something I first tasted in the form of street food at the famous Notting Hill Carnival in London, a few years back. I loved it but for some reason it is not something I have ever previously tried to prepare. That changed only when I saw Jamaican jerk spice in my local supermarket a few days ago while looking for something else. I decided to give this simple idea a go to try it out for the first time and produce a quick and tasty meal. I definitely loved it and will get more adventurous with the spice in future.

Jamaican jerk spice and salt are added to olive oil

Ingredients per Person

8 whole chicken wings
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Jamaican jerk spice mix
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 small white onion
1 medium tomato
Chopped parsley to garnish
Fresh lemon wedge

Chicken wings are carefully folded through oil and spices


Put your oven on to preheat to 400F/200C and pour the olive oil in to a large glass or stone (not plastic - it may stain it irrevocably) bowl. Add the jerk spice and salt and stir to form a smooth paste. Put the chicken wings in to the bowl and stir them in a gentle folding motion to evenly coat with the oil and spices. This will take a couple of minutes and a bit of patience.

Spiced wings are ready for the oven

If time permits, you may wish to cover the chicken wings and leave them to marinate in the spices for a couple of hours but this is not essential. Lay the chicken wings in a single layer on a large roasting tray and place them in to the oven for half an hour.

Onion slices are added to the cooked Jamaican jerk spiced chicken wings

Take the wings from the oven and scatter over the sliced and separated onion strands. Stir carefully through the juices with a wooden spoon. Leave to rest for ten minutes.

Onion slices are carefully folded through the spiced chicken wings

Cut the tomato in half and each half in to three wedges. Arrange the wings and onions on a plate and garnish firstly with the tomato wedges. Scatter with the chopped parsley and sit the lemon wedge on the side of the plate.

Jamaican jerk chicken wings are plated and garnished firstly with tomato wedges

Monday, 29 October 2012

Duck Confit with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Quick Fried Pak Choi

Confit leg of duck with roasted sweet potatoes and flash fried pak choi

Traditional duck confit is as much a food preservation technique as a cooking method. It involves brining or salting the duck legs for up to a couple of days before cooking them very slowly and gently, submerged in duck or goose fat. They can then be cooled and stored in the fat, in the refrigerator, for up to a couple of weeks. In this instance, though, as the duck confit is for immediate consumption, the salting or brining process was eliminated and considerably less fat was used.

Goose fat for duck confit

Ingredients (Serves Two)

2 whole duck leg and thigh portions
4 tsps duck or goose fat
2 large sweet potatoes
1 pak choi
Black pepper
Sunflower or vegetable oil for frying
2 orange slices for garnish

Duck legs ready for the oven


Put two teaspoons of goose or duck fat in the base of an ovenproof dish, just large enough to contain both the duck legs. Pierce the skin of each duck leg several times with a skewer and sit one - skin side up - on top of each lump of fat. Add a further teaspoon of fat to the top of each leg and season well with salt only. Put the dish on to a roasting tray and place it in to a cold (not preheated) oven, set to 150C/300F. Leave to cook for two hours.

Parboiled sweet potatoes are left to steam and cool

Peel and roughly chop the sweet potatoes. Put them in a large pot of cold, salted water. Bring the water to a simmer for ten minutes. Drain the sweet potatoes, return them to the empty pot and leave them to steam and dry out for five minutes. Cover and leave to cool completely.

Duck confit

Take the duck confit from the oven and carefully lift the legs to a plate. Cover and leave to rest.

Duck legs are lifted from the fat and left to rest

Carefully stir the sweet potatoes through the fat and put the dish back in the oven, turning it up to 220C/450F for fifteen to twenty minutes until crisp.

Sweet potatoes are roasted in duck and goose fat combination

Pak choi is sometimes referred to as Chinese cabbage. It can be eaten raw in salads or very successfully incorporated in stir fries.

Pak choi

In this instance, the pak choi leaves are sliced in half and fried for a couple of minutes in a little bit of very hot oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Flash frying pak choi

The orange slices should be almost but not quite cut in half. Cut out the flesh and twist the rind as a garnish.

Orange slice for garnishing duck confit

Plate the duck legs. Drain the sweet potatoes on a plate of kitchen paper and add them to the plate with the pak choi. Garnish with the twisted orange rinds.

Confit duck leg, sweet potatoes and pak choi are plated

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Pancetta Wrapped Chicken Breast with Pan Roasted Potatoes and Sprouts

Pancetta wrapped chicken breast served with roast potatoes, sprouts and redcurrant sauce

Pancetta is a form of bacon from Italy. It is much closer to American bacon than British bacon (it is taken from the belly of the pig, rather than the back) but it tastes of course similar to both. It is important to remember when cooking with pancetta that you are extremely unlikely to need any additional salt, as the salt curing should provide all that you require. That is why the chicken breasts in this recipe are seasoned with white pepper only and the only salt used is in the poaching water for the potatoes and the Brussels sprouts.

Ingredients (Serves Two People)

2 skinless chicken breast fillets
10 slices of pancetta
12 small potatoes
10 Brussels sprouts
Salt (see note in opening paragraph)
White pepper
Redcurrant jelly

Chicken breast fillets and pancetta


Add your unpeeled potatoes to a large pot of cold salted water. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for twenty-five to thirty minutes until the potatoes are soft. Drain, cover and leave to cool completely.

Wrapping chicken breast fillets in pancetta

Start your oven preheating to 375F/190C. Lay the chicken breast fillets on a chopping board and carefully lay five strips of pancetta over each as shown. Tuck the pancetta in underneath. Lightly oil a foil lined roasting tray and sit the fillets on it, tucked sides down. The foil simply makes the tray easier to clean.

Pancetta wrapped chicken breasts ready for roasting

Cover the tray with a second sheet of foil and cook for twenty minutes. Remove the top sheet of foil and cook for a further fifteen minutes to crisp up the pancetta. Take the tray from the oven and pierce each fillet to ensure the juices run clear. Sit aside for fifteen minutes to rest.

Pancetta wrapped chicken breasts are rested

Trim any remaining excess stalk from the Brussels sprouts and remove any loose leaves. Put them in to a pot of boiling, lightly salted water and simmer for ten to twelve minutes, depending upon their size. They should be just softened when done, never soggy and starting to fall apart.

Peel the skin off the potatoes with your hand and roast in a deep frying pan of hot oil for five or six minutes until golden.

Peeling cooled potatoes for roasting

Remove the potatoes from the oil with a large slotted spoon to a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain. The sprouts should be drained through a colander.

Put a pancetta wrapped chicken fillet on each plate, together with half the sprouts and potatoes. Add the redcurrant jelly and serve.

Pancetta wrapped chicken breast is plated

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Fresh Fig, Iberico Ham and Mozzarella Salad with Toasted Oktoberfest Boule

Fresh figs stuffed with mozzarella, served on a bed of Iberico ham and with Oktoberfest boule toast

This attractive and incredibly simple salad - representing tastes of Spain, Italy, Germany and the Middle East - was actually prepared from start to finish in the time it took to make the toast. That means that it not only represents a refreshing change for the average dinner menu, it in no way involves any time spent slaving over a hot stove. Iberico ham is a Spanish delicacy and although by no means cheap to buy, it really is absolutely delicious and well worth forking out for as a special treat. These wafer thin slices cost about sixty British pence each (£2.99 for a pack of five slices) - equivalent to around one American dollar per slice.

There's a little bit of a story as to where this idea came from and it's only fair that I give credit where it is due. Figs are something I hadn't eaten in years and it was when I read a friend's Hub Page sharing details of her Fig Puff Pastry Tart that this meal was subsequently devised. If you buy a bag of figs, therefore, you may want to give Claudia's delicious pudding/dessert idea a try.

Slicing the Oktoberfest boule for making toast

Ingredients per Person

2 slices of Oktoberfest boule
3 slices of Iberico ham
3 small fresh figs
2 ounces of buffalo mozzarella (approximately)
Freshly chopped basil to garnish
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Iberico ham is carefully laid on the serving plate


Slice the boule and put it on to toast before carefully laying the slices of Iberico ham on a serving plate that each one represents a bed for a fig.

Fresh figs

Snip any remaining stalk off the top of each fig. Make two cuts at right angles down through the fig, stopping about three-quarters of the way through. Carefully squeeze each one at the bottom to open them like flowers and lay them on the ham beds.

Fresh figs are cut open and laid on the bed of Iberico ham

Cut the mozzarella in to three even sized pieces, just the right size to stuff the figs. Be careful not to cut the pieces too big as arranging them may burst the figs open and spoil presentation.

Mozzarella is cut in to small portions for stuffing figs

Carefully stuff the figs with the mozzarella and garnish with some freshly chopped basil leaves.

Mozzarella is stuffed in to figs and garnished with freshly chopped basil

Lay the toasted Oktoberfest boule slices on the side of the plate. Drizzle everything with extra virgin olive oil (optional), season with a little salt (remember the salt in the ham) and plenty of black pepper.

Oktoberfest boule toast is plated beside the fig and Iberico ham salad

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Sausages and Goose Fat Roasted Potatoes with Savoy Cabbage and Chantenay Carrots

Beef link sausages are served with roast potatoes, savoy cabbage and Chantenay carrots
Sausages of thousands of different types are popular around the world and eaten by their millions every day. Sometimes, however, we can be a bit unimaginative with what we serve along with sausages and delicious as bangers and mash can be, it can equally become a little bit repetitive after a while. This combination came about simply because I had the savoy cabbage and the Chantenay carrots in the fridge requiring to be used up and it proved to be even more delicious than I had hoped.

Fingerling potatoes are parboiled before they are roasted

Ingredients per Person

4 beef link sausages
Vegetable or sunflower oil
2 fingerling potatoes
2 large savoy cabbage leaves
1/2 small white onion
3 Chantenay carrots
2 tbsp goose fat
Little bit of butter
Little bit of freshly chopped coriander leaf/cilantro

Potatoes are drained and cooled before being roasted


Wash the fingerling potatoes and cut each of them in half lengthways. Put them in a pot of cold salted water, bring the water to a boil and reduce to simmer as gently as possible for eight to ten minutes. Carefully drain the potatoes and leave them to steam for a few minutes before covering them and letting them cool completeley.

Spoon the goose fat in to a small, ovenproof dish and put it in to the oven while the oven preheats to 220C/450F. When the oven is heated, add the potato halves to the dish and carefully stir around in the fat with a wooden spoon, ensuring they are all completely coated. Roast in the oven for twenty minutes.

Goose fat is added to an ovenproof dish before being melted for roasting potatoes

When the potatoes are in the oven, add the sausages to a frying pan with a little vegetable or sunflower oil and fry very gently, also for twenty minutes, turning occasionally. The low heat will cook them but prevent them bursting.

The carrots should be added to a pot of seasoned cold water and brought to a simmer for ten minutes. The cabbage and onion should be shredded and sliced respectively before being added to a pot with a little oil, salt and pepper and braised over a medium heat for five to seven minutes, stirring very frequently.

Plate the sausages and the cabbage and onion. Drain the potatoes on some kitchen paper. Drain the carrots and stir them in a little butter and chopped coriander/cilantro and you are ready to finish plating.

Savoy cabbage and onion are braised in a little olive oil