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.

What’s in my freezer?

Following on from my previous ‘What’s in my…cupboard/fridge?’ post, I thought I’d include my lovely freezer drawer so it wouldn’t feel left out! I had a some trouble filling this at the beginning of term because I wasn’t really sure what to put there (hence why I only have one freezer drawer out of a possible eight). But I’ve accumulated some bits and pieces over the last month and a half so here it is.

I only recently cottoned to the fact that ovens cook pizza and chips really easily, so here’s my one stop super quick (but not super healthy) dinner – a margherita pizza (spinkled with mixed herbs is yummy). Oh, and french fries for when I feel like them.

(although my potato ‘chips’ are very yummy too).

I also bought quite a few pre-prepared salmon fillets when I first got here – after I asked my mother how to cook them they didn’t seem so scary.

I think the trickiest thing for me personally was adjusting to cooking meat and fish because that was sort of a category I wasn’t very familiar with (apart from the occasional roast for the family). So I had to find out how to make one-size portions work for me because fresh fish and meat is important to me.

      

I also have some big fat chicken legs, king prawns (buy one get one free at Tesco’s) and another batch of bolognese sauce. My aim is to finish this for when I go back home for Christmas. That shouldn’t be a problem. Apart from that, there’s not really anything else in my lone freezer drawer. I’m welcome to any suggestions for useful staples as always!

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