Roast Chicken

A little while ago I bought a chicken and decided to cut it up into the individual parts so that I could cook them separately when I wanted to, otherwise they were stored in the freezer. However since my knife proved it wasn’t up to the job, I thought this time I would roast the chicken whole and them portion it off afterwards. Doing this saves a lot of money if you buy a lot of pre-packed chicken meals and means you always have something in the freezer for back up! I like to buy the free-range chicken and if you can get it discounted, even better (I bought mine £1.50 off per kilo) – so you end up paying just over £5 for a whole chicken basically. Anyhoo, this is what I did to marinate the chicken:

1. Season with salt and pepper and some dried herbs. Pat into chicken and leave in the fridge for as long as you have (overnight is ideal).

2. I popped a few cloves of fresh garlic inside the chicken too just to give it some extra flavour. Drizzle some oil over the chicken and place on an ovenproof dish. You could also add some onions and other vegetables in the dish if you wanted and other seasonings. I cooked it for about an hour at 200-220 degrees Celsius. To check when your chicken is done, insert a sharp knife into the body and see whether the juices run clear (yep done) or red (it needs a little more cooking).

Roast Chicken

3. After cooking you can then start shredding it and taking of the meat – I ended up getting about 8 individual portions from it (with the help of recycled pasta bags for storage in the freezer)!

Shredded Chicken Chicken portions

4. Make sure you save the residue from the oven dish as you can just run a little water onto it and scrape of the remainder into a large pot for stock (keep the bones and any leftover bits of meat too as they really enhance the flavour).

Chicken stock

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My Favourite Meals of the Week

pork pre cooking  pork + bulgur wheat

This is how I cooked some pork loin steaks I bought (you guess it! HALF PRICE at Tesco’s). It is a sort of ‘casserole-y’ type dish where I just bunged some garlic, shallots, early potatoes, tomatoes and carrots topped with the pork into the oven. After about 20-30 minutes (I kind of lost track of the time), there were some lovely aromatic juices at the bottom of the dish so I added some bulgur wheat to bulk it up a bit and absorb everything.

finished port + veg casserole

In hindsight I would have pre-cooked the potatoes maybe for 10-15 minutes first so that they were a little softer. But all in all, quite a yummy little dish and very easy to make as everything is in one dish. It is also an easy one to keep in the fridge for leftovers the next day!

chicken noodle soup + veg

This chicken noodle soup/broth was really to use up some defrosted chicken stock I had in my fridge and my oh my did I feel full afterwards. It felt like I had eaten two meals – I actually had to stop half way for a ‘break’. To be fair I did use a whole courgette and half a lettuce as well as some prawns though. Eyes bigger than my belly.

steak and misc

I put the leftover garlic butter (‘recipe’ here) that I had made earlier that week into the pan to give the steak some lovely flavouring and cooked it more towards the well done side this time. After resting, cut into slices. De-licious. I just served with some roasted plum tomatoes (10 minutes in the oven on a moderate heat), a fried egg and rice. A bit of a miscellaneous dinner but I enjoyed every minute of it.

A Hearty Lunch/Dinner with Steak

So I got home this morning after running a 10km race which I cycled 20 minutes each way too – so yeah I was famished and needed to stock up my stomach on food! A few days ago Tesco had half price rump steaks and being a meat-lover, I just couldn’t resist the deal and bought a packet for my freezer. I cut them into slightly smaller pieces so they would last longer and pre-seasoned a little with salt and pepper before putting in to the freezer. Since I knew I was doing the 10km race, I’d already taken one piece out to defrost in anticipation of a hearty lunch when I got back. So here is what I made.

I had a red pepper that needed eating to I chopped it in half, drizzled a little oil on top, seasoned and then bunged onto a tray into the oven at a moderately high heat (about 180 degrees Celsius) to soften whilst I prepared everything else.

Next I took washed some ‘Charlotte’ potatoes keeping the skin on.

potato prep

The idea of making sautéed potatoes came from a Sorted food video I saw which I thought was a clever way of cooking them quickly without an oven – so this is how I did it.

I chopped them into small chunks/cubes of roughly even size so that they would cook quickly and at about the same rate.

cubed potatoes

Then I love using the leftover sundried tomato flavoured oil to give other foods the flavour so drizzled some into a hot pan. The potatoes take about 20 minutes turning every few minutes so they don’t burn. Season with salt, pepper and a light sprinkling of mixed herbs if preferable.

potato seasoning

Now time for the star of the show – the steak! Brush a little oil onto the sides and place carefully into a hot pan (I shared mine with the potatoes) for a few minutes. The cooking time will be dependant on how thick your steak is and also how you like it done.

sharing the pan!

I prefer medium so a few minutes on either side was perfect. Season a little more with salt and pepper in the pan if needed and then importantly, leave your steak to rest.

Looking a bit lonely on the plate!

Looking a bit lonely on the plate!

I left my steak for about 10-15 minutes before plating up with the sautéed potatoes and peppers. A hearty lunch or dinner for anyone which can also easily be multiplied!

A hearty lunch/dinner with steak

Chicken

So first off, apologies for not quite sticking to my ‘post a week’ aim, I seem to be slacking as I generally tend to leave about 8-9 days between posts on my blogs – must try harder!

I have had quite a busy few weeks but food-related topics have been pretty non-eventful. But it’s Christmas soon which means I will be going back home where there is sugar, cake tins and baking parchment galore! (just thought I’d give you a heads up – although I’ll probably be too preoccupied with the eating rather than blogging). This week I cut up a chicken, not like with no idea! – I should have said I prepared a chicken. I was  nearing the end of my freezer stock and as meat is relatively expensive, I took up the suggestion to buy a whole chicken instead and then divide it into sections myself. Now obviously you could just roast the chicken whole if you have time and then divide it, but I wanted the satisfaction of putting all the different cuts in their own freezer bags because I’m weird like that.

First off, you NEED a super DOOPER sharp knife. Mine was not sharp enough sadly, I found out after properly trying to thump my hand into the top of the blade to get it to cut through a bone. I used a very useful video which can be found here from the lovely chaps at sorted food to guide me through the mysterious world of meat preparation. So first I removed all the packaging and string etc. easy peasy! Then I attempted to find the wishbone, first off I must admit I looked for it at the wrong end and then I thought well this isn’t going well so I gave it a miss! If anyone has a simple way of describing it’s position, please do feel free to enlighten me in the comments below. Then I proceeded to cut off the chicken wings (where a super DOOPER (thought I’d have fun saying that again) sharp knife is a necessity!) which took about 20x longer than it should have. But eventually I got the legs and breast + fillets too. Now they all sit happily ever after in my freezer, that is until they are eaten.

Chicken carcass: Don’t through this away! You can make a flavoursome stock with this especially (so I’ve read) if you roast it first. Now I thought the sight of this would scare my flatmates a bit if they found that in the oven next to their pizza and chips – so it’s currently residing in the freezer until they’ve gone back home for Christmas (yes my course finishes a week later than everyone else meaning I will have a empty flat all my myself until 4 days before Christmas!) – then I’ll whip it out and conjure up some lovely stock using my recipe here.

So I hope you enjoyed my chicken encounters and I hope you are all having a lovely December! I would love to hear of any ‘must-try’ Christmas recipes you have in the comments below or just any Christmassy comments in general!

How to make chicken stock

Following on from my chicken dinner post here, I decided to use the few leg bones to make some homemade chicken stock for the first time. After consulting several online recipes I decided to have a go. Bones with a little meat left on them are best as give extra flavour.

Chicken Stock

-Old chicken bones or carcasses

-Carrots

-Onions

-Celery or other vegetables

First I placed my old bones into a pot. If you have larger bones, break in half to release more flavour.

Next prepare the base vegetables. I only had shallots and carrots so used these. Celery is a common addition and any other old vegetables you have to eat would be ideal. Chop into chunky pieces.

Add the vegetables to the bones and pour hot water into the pot. Season with salt and plenty of pepper.

Bring the stock up to the boil on a high heat and upon reaching, turn down so that it continues to simmer. I left the lid covering the pot for a good 4-5 hours.

The stock could be made into a soup if you only added a low volume of water and thickened before draining the bones. I wanted it as a stock so mashed the vegetables up a little before draining the bones and larger pieces.

You should now be left with a lovely flavoursome stock.

I poured mine into a plastic container for the freezer. Otherwise if you are planning to use soon, it will keep in the fridge.

So that’s how I made my chicken stock. I haven’t been brave enough yet to buy a whole chicken for roasting otherwise I would have a lot more bones, but this worked well for a few helpings of vegetables.

Chicken dinner.

Here’s a quick post of my hearty dinner from a few nights ago where I had to use up some old potatoes and peppers.

On taking my chicken leg out from the freezer I waited a few hours until seasoning so that it would absorb the salt and pepper.

Prepare the potatoes by thinly slicing. Drizzle over some oil from the sundried tomato jar (yummy) or just use regular oil. Place on the top shelf of a hot 200 degree oven for about half an hour. Turn every 10 minutes or so. Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and drizzle with a little oil before also adding to the oven for about 15 minutes until a little soft but retain their crunchiness. Check that the chicken has cooked and serve. I filled my peppers with some basmati I had and drizzle over a little more of the sundried tomato oil. You could use seasoned couscous fluffed with vegetable stock which would be super tasty, and add in cheese or other small grains etc. All in all, this is a filling meal which is relatively cheap and easy to prepare.

*Amendment from November 27th 2012 – On reflection I think that it would have been better to brown the meat at a high temperature in a pan first for a few minutes to get some colour and flavour first before putting into the oven. That would probably make it look more appetising too.

Chicken Wings!

I have not actually ever made chicken wings before and thought I would attempt some as my brother and sister love them. The recipe I used was fairly simple and I had hoped that the overnight marinating of the chicken would give it a lot of flavour, but surprisingly it was just mediocre for my taste so if any readers have any tips or other recipes, I would be very grateful if you would leave comments below.

Easy chicken wings, makes 16

Preparation time : 15 minutes

Roasting time : 45-50 minutes

-16 raw chicken wings

-2 garlic cloves, crushed

-Zest and juice of 1 lemon

-1tsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp olive oil

-1 tbsp honey (optional)

First make the marinade by mixing garlic, lemon zest, juice, cumin and oil in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss the wings in the marinade so that they are thoroughly coated and leave to rest overnight so that the marinade can be absorbed in the meat. As I didn’t find that the flavour had been absorbed quite as much, I would suggest making some small slits in the chicken wings to improve this.

When you are ready to cook the chicken wings, put in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 45-50 minutes until golden brown and crisp. You can drizzle a little honey onto them for the last 10 minutes if roasting if preferred.

 

 

cooked as part of this menu