Lazy Sunday Roast Chicken

Oh my, the rain, the wind. It’s getting us down. But do we complain? Well…yes…we do a little bit if I’m honest. What we also do is draw up plans for building an ark and cook some comfort food. This was last weekend’s Sunday lunch and if this weather continues we may have a  repeat performance again tomorrow!

I don’t think I can really claim this to be a recipe, as it just involves chopping, seasoning and putting something in the oven. But if you need inspiration for a family meal, or a meal for 2 with leftovers for another day (or two) then look no further.

Winter Roast Chicken (6)

This was lunch for a lazy Sunday. The sun finally came out for a few hours, after rain, storm and high winds. It was still blowing a bit of a gale so we headed to a nearby park instead of the beach where the pups could let off steam.  We all got thoroughly muddy but returned home with “roses in our cheeks” and “the cobwebs well and truly blown away” (as my grandmother used to say of walks in the sunshiny cold of England). We also returned home to the delicious smell of roasting chicken and a toasty warm kitchen. Perfect!

Ingredients (to serve 4 hungry adults)

  • 1 chicken weighing about 2kg
  • 4 carrots, 2 parsnips, 1 red pepper, 1 yellow pepper, 1 large sweet potato, 2 sticks of celery, half a fennel, a red onion, a white onion – all vegetables peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves separates but not peeled
  • About 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • A small glass of white wine (or water)
  • 1 tablespoon of za’atar
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • Salt and pepper

Put all the vegetables and the garlic into a deep oven tray (line it with foil to save having to scrub the pan). Season with salt and pepper and pour over 2 tablespoons of the oil and the glass of wine and mix with your hands.

Winter Roast Chicken (3)

Sit the chicken on top of the vegetables, massage the rest of the oil into the chicken then season and sprinkle the za’atar over. Rub the seasoning in all over the chicken and put the halved lemons into the chicken cavity.

Cover well with a tent of foil and cook in a medium oven (about 180 degrees C fan or 200 degrees C normal oven) for 2 hours. Uncover about half an hour before you have finished cooking to brown the skin.

Winter Roast Chicken (8)

Leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving and make sure to spoon all the lovely juices over the meat and vegetables when you eat.

Leftovers (you know how much I love having leftovers) went into sandwiches and a delicious chicken and vegetable soup.

Pollo Cacciatore – Hunter’s Chicken

How many ways can you make Chicken Cacciatore? Quite a lot if you go by the recipes that pop up if you do an internet search. I imagine that the most authentic recipes rely on very few ingredients if they were cooked out doors by the hunters over an open fire. But perhaps they were cooked indoors by the hunters’ wives for their return.  I imagine that when they went out hunting they were probably tracking wild boar or something that really offered a sporting challenge. I don’t think Chicken Hunting would provide much of an adrenalin rush to the boys out for a day of testosterone, alcohol and guns.

Pollo Cacciatore (3)

Enough wondering about hunters and authentic recipes, here’s my version which relies mostly on store cupboard ingredients (well, I did have to hunt out my smoked pimentón from the back of the cupboard so I think it counts).

Ingredients to feed 6 hungry hunters

  • 1 large chicken jointed (I jointed mine into 14 pieces – 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings, each breast cut in two, the rest of the carcass into 4 – all with the bone in)
  • About 2 cups of your favourite homemade tomato sauce or use tinned tomatoes
  • A tablespoon of tomato purée
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • An onion peeled, halved and cut into medium slices
  • About half a cup of olives
  • A large glass of red wine
  • Salt and Pepper
  • A teaspoon of smoked pimentón or paprika
  • A red pepper thinly sliced
  • About 6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon cut into small pieces (or use lardons)
  • A few sprigs of rosemary
  • Olive oil for frying

Start by heating a few tablespoons of oil in a large pan and (in batches) brown the chicken pieces and set aside. Add more oil if necessary. In the same pan gently fry the peppers, garlic and onions until soft then add the bacon and fry (on a higher heat) until the bacon starts to crisp.

Pollo Cacciatore (1)

Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, wine, rosemary, pimentón and seasoning and bring it up to a bubble. Add the wine, olives, chicken and rosemary and cover. Cook gently on the stove top for about an hour or in the oven on low for a couple of hours. Check every so often and if the sauce is starting to dry out, add a splash of water.

When ready to serve, cook for a few minutes on the hob to thicken up the sauce if necessary and serve with mashed potatoes or rice. Tastes even better if made the day before. Any leftovers are wonderful with pasta. And a little glass of that red wine…

And when she got there, the cupboard was bare….Olive Oil Tortillas

Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard
To get her poor dog a bone
When she got there, the cupboard was bare
And so the poor dog had none*

Olive Oil Tortillas (3)

Our little break Down by the Sea is over and yesterday we got back to Spain and are now back Up the Mountain. Today is Sunday, and of course in our rural area pretty much everything is closed.

We could have gone out for lunch but we are exhausted. Time to dig around in the freezer and the store cupboard and become an inventive Chica.

On opening my fridge I actually screamed with shock and slammed the door shut again. Big Man came running thinking I’d left something in there that had grown gills while we were away. But no, it was 3 weeks of tomatoes kindly picked and stored by our neighbours. Here’s a photo of about half of them…

There's still the salad basket below which is packed too!
There’s still the salad basket below which is packed too!

Well, there was definitely going to be a tomato salad on the menu. Every day for a long time.

The freezer kindly delivered up an Ottolenghi Chicken and Hazelnut dish and all I needed was bread. Did you know that most Mediterranean folk I know won’t even consider a meal complete unless there is a basket of bread on the table? In fact, I think if there was nothing on the menu in a restaurant they’d order bread with bread.

With not enough time or patience to make a loaf, I thought of tortilla wraps and headed over to check out Tandy’s brilliant recipe at Lavender and Lime. Of course, I had no butter but in the land of olive oil, a substitution was possible, and gave great results.

Olive Oil Tortillas

  • 180g plain flour
  • 30g olive oil (yes, I did this by weight and not volume!)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Up to 100ml water

Add the sugar and salt to the flour and mix then pour in the olive oil. Rub the oil into the flour until small lumps form and then rub for a moment or two more to break the little lumps down. Gradually add the water and knead for a few minutes until you have a smooth dough.

Rest the dough for 30 minutes (I just left it on the counter) and divide into four equal pieces. Roll out into thin rounds and dry fry in a very hot frying pan, pressing down with a spatula to stop air bubbles forming. Cook on both sides until lightly browned and keep warm by wrapping them in a tea towel.

Olive Oil Tortillas (1)

Enjoy your tortillas whilst asking your other half where all your glass jars with lids are for your tomato bottling session, only to find out he has thrown them all in the recycling.

*Rest assured that no dogs or even humans ever went hungry in our house!

For a delicious gluten free bread/wrap, take a look at my Socca recipe.

Roast Chicken with Saffron, Hazelnuts and Honey

I’m not an expert on poetry, I can’t even claim to get immense pleasure from reading it regularly, but there are some poems that stick in my head. One such poem is “If” by Rudyard Kipling. Different lines from it seem appropriate at different times.

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

That seems to be the part that resonates right now, and I wanted to say a heartfelt thank you to you all for your kind words of support and encouragement while Big Man and I deal with the highs of a wonderful year of hard work behind us, and the lows of the ill health of loved ones in the here and now.

However, life really does go on. We live, we laugh, we cry and of course, we cook and eat. Cooking soothes the soul, eating does too. Well, we all knew that didn’t we?!  Today I have another beautiful Ottolenghi recipe that is stunningly simple and simply stunning. I followed the recipe almost exactly, which is rare, and I wouldn’t change a thing. When we ate this dish, I found myself thinking what beautiful Arab flavours it contained. As I looked up the recipe again to pull this post together, Yotam Ottolenghi says that he was influenced by a recipe from Claudia Roden’s book, Tamarind and Saffron. Aha, now I need to buy that one too!

Chicken with Saffron Hazelnuts & Honey (8)

Serves 4

  • 1 large (organic, free range if possible) chicken cut into portions
  • 2 onions roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp each of ground ginger and ground cinnamon
  • A generous pinch of saffron strands (but use turmeric if you don’t have saffron)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 100g hazelnuts (actually, I did change this, he says unskinned, mine were skinned!)
  • 70g honey
  • 2 tbsp rosewater

In a large bowl mix the chicken pieces with the onions, olive oil, spices, saffron, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper and leave to marinate (from 1 hour to overnight in the fridge)

Heat the oven to 190 degrees (Gas 5). Brown the hazelnuts on an oven tray for 10 mins (I dry fried mine in a pan), cool slightly, roughly chop the nuts and set aside.

Transfer the chicken and marinade to a large tray or oven dish (you want to spread it all out) and bake for about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile mix the honey, nuts and rose water to make a rough paste and spread it over the almost cooked chicken. Return the meat to the oven for about 10 minutes (or until cooked) and it is all golden brown.

This dish looks so beautiful (well, less so in my photo!) and is good even when cold.

Chicken with Za’atar and Lemon – and a “Thank You and Welcome”!

I’ve been reluctant to embrace Facebook or Twitter. I did set up a Facebook account but can’t figure out how to link it to my WordPress blog and vice versa. People have suggested I do this to increase readership and subscribers to the blog. But despite this, and ever so quietly, over the last few months, so many lovely new folk have been joining us either Down by the Sea or Up the Mountain. It’s been wonderful to see new comments and to hear new “voices” as well as those of old friends on the blog. So I say, thank you to you all for sticking with me and welcome to all our new friends. And any advice on the Facebook button would be gratefully accepted….

So, back to the food today.  It’s been a while since my good friend Mr Ottolenghi made an appearance (at least, recipe wise) in my kitchen. A freezer full of chicken breasts (our least favourite part of the bird and what always seems to be left until last from our chicken despatch sessions) needs to be dealt with.  “Flavour, flavour and more flavour”, I say and this easy recipe (which I adapted a little due to lack of ingredients) really did the job.

Lemon Zaatar Chicken (4)

I have given both my version and Mr O’s version below.

Ingredients (to serve 2)

  • 2 chicken breasts cut into bite sized chunks (he uses a whole chicken, jointed)
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced (2 red onions in original recipe)
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • About 2 tbsp olive oil (4 tbsp in original recipe)
  • ½ tsp all spice (1 ½ tsp in original recipe)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon (1 tsp in original recipe)
  • 1 tbsp sumac (I didn’t have this so put ½ tsp of hot pimentón which is not at all similar but worked well – you could use lemon juice or zest for the lemony flavour of sumac)
  • 1 lemon, halved and thinly sliced
  • 200ml chicken stock or water
  • Pinch salt (1 ½ tsp in original recipe)
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp za’atar (2 tbsp in original)

Mix the chicken with all the ingredients and leave to marinate for a few hours (which I did) or overnight. Bring to room temperature and cook in a hot oven in a dish which allows you to spread everything out. Mine took about 40 minutes to cook, allow longer for a whole chicken.

In the original recipe, the za’atar is sprinkled over just before cooking and it is served sprinkled with pine nuts fried in butter and chopped parsley.

Lemon Zaatar Chicken (2)

I served it with rice cooked with pepper and peas and the taste was beautiful, the chicken juicy and very similar in taste to a Spanish “pinchito” or little kebab and the lemon was sweet and caramelised. Definitely a dish to make again!

Honey Mustard Chicken

Honey Mustard Chicken (2)

While we’ve been in the UK we’ve missed eating our own home reared chicken, but we have 2 fantastic butchers nearby and are able to buy organic chicken and eggs too. A luxury, but I’d rather eat meat less often and enjoy good quality, properly reared meat that hasn’t been pumped full of chemicals.  I often buy a whole chicken which gives me more options…roast, soup, portions to freeze and eat later.

I had been saving our favourite part of the chicken which is the thigh.  I much prefer dark meat and when it’s cooked with the bone and skin, the flavour is better. In my humble opinion at least! Big Man is happy to eat chicken simply grilled or roasted, I enjoy extra flavours or sauces, so this was a dish to keep us both happy as I cooked the chicken in the base for the sauce, then served it on the side when the dish was complete. Having said that, I think he ate his share!

Ingredients (to serve 4)

  • 8 chicken thighs (or your favourite joints)
  • 2 glasses of white wine (plus one for the chef). Use chicken stock or water if you don’t cook with alcohol
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 – 2 heaped teaspoons of English Mustard (according to taste)
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 level teaspoon of cornflour

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and put into a deep baking tin. Mix together all the other ingredients (except the cornflour) and pour over the chicken. If you have time, leave it for an hour or so before cooking, turning the meat in it once.

Honey Mustard Chicken (4)

Cook at about 200 degrees (Gas 6 approx) for around 45 minutes, basting and turning the meat once or twice. Check that it’s cooked by piercing a thigh with a sharp knife to see that the juices run clear.

Drain the sauce off into a small pan and keep the chicken in a low oven while you finish the sauce. Add the cornflour to a few tablespoons of cold water, mix well and stir into the sauce. Heat gently until it thickens to your liking and serve with the chicken.

I made double the quantity and used the leftover chicken which I stir fried with courgette, bacon and mushrooms, then added the rest of the sauce and a little cream and served with pasta. Waste not, want not!

Honey Mustard Chicken Pasta (3)

Sunshine Chicken

Chicken is a great healer, so they say, especially chicken soup. Well, I made soup last week for the sick girl, but fortunately she was at that point of recovery where she was wanting to move on from invalid food and, as we joked, to using a knife and fork!

In London it´s easy to get wonderful vegetables year round and I was inspired by a beautiful little butternut squash that was in the veggie basket. As with most of my dishes, this is simple to put together, then you forget about it for a while, then you eat it and the next day you make another delicious soup. Well, I fancied it, it was raining.

Ingredients for 2 people

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 large onion cut into about 8 chunks
  • 1 small head of garlic (all the cloves peeled)
  • 1 small squash, cut into about 10 large chunks (washed but not peeled)
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into quarters lengthways
  • 4 medium potatoes, washed and cut into 8 pieces each
  • Olive oil
  • Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A sprig of lemon thyme (or use ordinary) and a sprig of rosemary
  • Half a teaspoon each of dried cumin and hot chili powder (or use sweet)
  • A small glass of white wine (or water or stock)

Put all the ingredients into an oven tray, pour over a little olive oil and season then sprinkle over the cumin and chili.  Mix it all up to ensure everything is covered with oil and seasoning then pour over the wine/stock and tuck in the herbs.

Cover with foil and cook on a medium heat for about an hour and a quarter. Remove the foil, check that the chicken is cooked through (if not leave for a little longer) then turn the oven up to high and cook for a further 15 minutes until the chicken skin is crispy and the vegetables start to turn brown at the edges. Serve and enjoy!

The next day I peeled what was left of the pumpkin and potatoes, put it all into a pot, added a little more cumin and chilli then covered with water. I bought the dish to a boil and then simmered for about 15 minutes. Then I blended with a stick blender and added about a cup of milk to thin it slightly then warmed through and served.

Out with the Old and In with the New – Broad Beans, Garlic and Chicken

Things are really shaping up in our huerto, our little vegetable garden. Yesterday the last of the broad beans were harvested and they leave us with a nice patch to fill with something else tasty.

Our garlic, which is a variety from Granada, is now just about ready for harvesting.

As you can see, it´s a small variety, slightly pink, and it tastes very sweet.  Here it is alongside one of our onions which we had expected to be bigger, but no matter…they taste great.

So, we now need to pick our 320 garlic bulbs and dry them out a little. We already have a waiting list of people who want a few, so my worries about how on earth we would use that many are already being addressed.

In order to celebrate the new garlic I made a simple dish of chicken joints, potatoes, small chunks of a whole lemon, a bulb of the fresh garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and some rosemary and oregano from our garden. I was inspired by this lovely simple recipe from Mary Cadogan over on the BBC website, but played around with it – I hope she won´t mind!

Into the oven it went, after having a good slug of local dry sherry poured over, where it sat cooking slowly at a medium heat for about 2 hours.

A little salad of finely chopped tomato with some chopped garlic and the last few fresh broad bean pods was my final tribute to the garden.

Simple, tasty and a perfect pick me up for the Up the Mountain garlic pickers!

Puchero or Olla Andalúz – Andalucían Chick Pea Stew

Well, what a weekend of e-mails many of us have had. Thanks a bunch WordPress (not!) for inundating us all. It´s been quiet on the blog front as many of us have held off from posting or commenting for fear of drowning in a sea of unwanted e-mails. Hopefully we are all daring to put our toes back in the water…but please don´t forget to remove that tick from the box below the comments one so that you don´t receive all those messages if you´re brave enough to leave messages again!

It´s been a strange weekend here too weather wise up the mountain. Saturday was like the depths of winter, Sunday got better and this week it looks as though summer is on its way with temperatures predicted in the high twenties. Feeling grey and damp on Saturday, we indulged in a big bowl of comforting Olla (pronounced Oya) or Puchero.

The word Olla in Spanish is a big cooking pot.  Often this dish is named after the pot it is cooked in. It´s a hearty, filling winter warmer that if eaten for lunch (it´s never eaten for dinner here, probably because of the “natural effects” of chick peas) will keep you going all day . This version lists the ingredients typically used locally, but also gives options for making it outside of Spain where not all of the ingredients will be so easily available. The salted bones and fat add flavour and give the broth a cloudy or white appearance, which is the sign of a good stock in Andalucía.  Clear stock, I think I´ve mentioned it previously when talking about Chicken Soup, is considered to be lacking in flavour!

If you use the salted bones, you won´t need to add much in the way of seasoning at the end. If not, add salt after the chick peas have cooked, otherwise they will never soften.

Ingredients for 4 people

  • 2 cups of dried chick peas soaked overnight in water with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda and drained
  • 2 large chicken legs and thighs (you will see that the meat in the photo is very dark as this was one of our “old boiler” cockerels…very tasty)
  • 1 piece of pork (typically here it comes from the leg or shoulder) weighing about 250g
  • Salted pork bones (replace with 2 or three pork ribs)
  • A small piece of salted pork fat (omit if you cannot find)
  • A piece of fresh or salted pork belly (with plenty of fat)
  • Optional – a few peeled carrots and sticks of celery
  • 3 or 4 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 small dried chillis (optional)
  • Water

Put all the ingredients into a large stock pot, pushing the meat and bones down to the bottom.  Add water to cover everything well and bring to the boil. Skim off any froth that rises to the surface during the first 10 minutes of hard boiling then reduce the heat to a very low simmer, cover and either simmer gently for about an hour and a half until the chick peas are completely tender or cook in a very low oven for 3 to 4 hours.

Remove the bay leaves, chilli, pork skin and bones, shred the meat and chop the carrots and celery if you prefer, season if necessary and serve in deep bowls with plenty of the delicious stock poured over.

Variation. Some people also add pig´s trotters to this dish, so if you enjoy them, do feel free to add. This weekend I omitted the pork fat and added celery and carrots to make it a lighter but still filling dish. My stock is probably not up to Spanish Housewife standards this time as it´s on the verge of being clear!

This is a dish which will improve and develop flavour if prepared a day ahead.

Up the Mountain Chicken in a Pot – Poule au Pot

My understanding is that King Henry IV of France hoped that, as a wealthy nation, all his people could eat stew (or a chicken) once a week.  Poule au Pot became a favourite dish, and the fact that it is so simple to produce and tasty to eat makes me understand its popularity.

I cannot attest to the authenticity of this recipe, I didn´t set out to cook the famous French dish, but when I took it to the table, wafting delicious chicken and vegetable smells, Big Man asked me what we were eating and I told him “Chicken in a Pot”. Et voilà!

Ingredients for 4-6 people depending on the size of your chicken

  • 1 free range chicken
  • 1 large potato per person, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 carrots, 2 sticks of celery and a leek per person (peel and roughly chop)
  • A few pieces of fresh thyme and some fresh parsley
  • 2 lemons cut into quarters
  • A large head of garlic, broken up a little but not peeled I used two small ones)
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning
  • A glass of white wine
  • A large ovenproof pot with a lid (big enough to take all the ingredients)

Set the oven to low before assembling the dish. Rub the chicken inside and out with olive oil and season and stuff half the lemon, half the thyme and half the garlic inside.

Place into the pot, scatter the vegetables around, add the remaining garlic, lemon, parsley and thyme and season. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and pour a glass of wine over. Put the lid on and then place the dish in the oven on low for 2-3 hours depending on the size of your chicken.  Check that the juices run clear before serving. A wonderful tasting, easy meal all cooked in one pot.

For some other fantastic chicken in a pot dishes, check out Food Photography and France (it´s also a very funny read), Savoring Every Bite (for a romantic recipe) and Fired Up Cooking (if you´re planning on some outdoor entertaining) to see their delicious recipes.