Very Easy Chinese Style Chicken

Chinese Style Chicken (3)

My love affair with the slow cooker continues. My mum even gifted me one (thanks Mamma!) to take with me to Spain to use in the heat of the summer when I can’t (won’t) turn the oven on!

Chicken is a favourite in most households because it’s usually pretty economical (although I am very much an advocate of buying the best you can and eating it less often) and it offers so many ways to be prepared. Big Man and I are both thigh folk.  He’s a skin off, I’m a skin on and we’re both bone in! You pick what you like best and go with it, although breasts are more pricey and don’t really benefit from long slow cooking.

This dish was really simple to prepare, (although I’m sure it’s not authentically Chinese!) but the flavour was amazing. Actually, if you took the ginger and star anise out it was very similar to any meat dish in Spain prepared “al ajillo” ….with lots of garlic. Sorry about the photo…real life cooking and eating here folk….I just plated it up, took a snap and we tucked in!

Ingredients (to serve 4)

  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 4-6 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 150ml Chinese rice wine (or use dry sherry)
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 5 tbs water
  • 8 chicken thighs or drumsticks (skin off is better for this dish unless you want to brown them first with the skin on)
  • Shredded spring onion to garnish (clearly I forgot this bit!)
  • Plain boiled rice to serve

Mix together the ginger, garlic, star anise, rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil and water and pour over the chicken. Leave to marinate for a few hours or overnight if you have time.  Place everthing into a saucepan and bring the chicken and marinade to the boil.

Transfer to the slow cooker (or an ovenproof dish with a lid) and cook on low for about 4 hours (or 2-3 hours in a low oven) until cooked through and tender.

When done, remove the star anise. If the sauce is too liquid, reduce for a few minutes in a saucepan and pour over the chicken to serve.

(Tastes even better the next day)

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Slow Cooked Chinese Style Barbecue Pork

We’re now back from Spain after a hectic month of family, friends and house repairs. Some good times and some sad times but that’s life isn’t it? Back in Bexhill for the moment and life is taking on a gentler pace for the next couple of weeks. That’s good as far as we’re concerned!

A gentler pace means time for slow cooking. I seem to have been rather enthusiastic about my passion for the slow cooker as my best pal Ria decided she wanted to give one a go, so I bought her a slow cooker for Christmas. My mum then decided that she’d join in so bought a slow cooker too. We’re all at it – slow cooking with passion and exchanging recipes. Not a bad way to enjoy food, especially when we’re able to share the results of our experimenting with each other.

 

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Here’s a great recipe which works equally well in the oven or the slow cooker. It takes very little preparation and after the required number of hours you’re rewarded with a dish which looks and tastes as though you’ve done something very cheffy and clever.

Ingredients to serve 4-6

  • 2 finely chopped or grated garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin (use sweet sherry otherwise)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • a bones and rolled pork shoulder (about 1kg/2lb in weight)
  • Steamed or boiled rice and chopped spring onions to serve

Put the garlic, ginger, honey, soy sauce, mirin, oil and five spice powder in a large bowl and mix. Add the pork to the bowl and coat it in the sauce.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, overnight if possible.

When you are ready to cook, bring the pork to room temperature. Put into an ovenproof dish with a lid or into a slow cooker. In a conventional oven, cook at Gas Mark 3 for about 4 hours, If you find it is drying out, add a small glass of water. In the slow cooker cook on high for 6 hours or low for 10 hours until the meat is very tender (you won’t need to add any additional liquid in the slow cooker).

Slice the meat and shred lightly to serve. Pour over any cooking juices and serve hot with the rice and spring onions.

Leftovers are wonderful cold in sandwiches.

If you’re inspired by this, why not take a look at my twice cooked melting pork?

Twice Cooked Melting Pork (8)

Slow Roasted Pork Belly with a Chinese Style Sauce

We love pork belly, but here it is more traditionally used as “pancetta”, boiled in stocks and soups to add flavour or cut into tiny chunks and done on the plancha (griddle) or deep fried as a little tapas. Often it will have the skin removed.

Big Man knows that I don´t like the flowers sold in the very few florists we ever come across here (funeral meets petrol station bouquet) so I am romanced with food surprises. Cheese covered in rosemary, tangy little apples to remind me of England, bunches of wild asparagus, a freshly caught rabbit, mushrooms which have been foraged for, and yesterday a belly of pork with the skin on. Now that´s what I call love.

Today the sun is shining, time to get to work in the garden and vegetable patch, so I needed a dish that I could forget about for a while. This recipe from my old favourite, the BBC Good Food Website, seemed to fit the bill. I did change it slightly as several people commented on the sauce being very sticky and leaving them with some scary washing up. Not for me, I thought, and worked around it.

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 60ml vinegar (I used white wine)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 star anise, broken up slightly
  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 100ml rice wine or sherry (I used a dry fino)
  • 1kg boneless pork belly

 Turn the oven on to its lowest setting.

Mix all the ingredients for the sauce together and warm gently until the honey has melted.

Line a small, deep baking tin or dish (one that will fit the meat quite snugly) with greaseproof paper making sure it comes up the sides. I used a large sheet and just placed it in the tin, scrunching it round the meat once it was placed in the tin.

Pour the sauce into the tin then place the meat on top, skin side up. Gather the paper up a little and then make a lid of aluminium foil so that the meat is sealed in the tin.

Cook slowly for about 3 hours, test the meat at the end of this time to ensure the meat is no longer pink. If it is, leave in for a little longer.

Now turn the oven up to the highest setting. Drain the sauce off the meat into a small pan and replace the meat in the baking tray, still skin side up. Continue cooking the meat until the top has turned crispy. Mine took about 45 minutes but you could always put it under a hot grill instead (not too close though or it will just burn).

Meanwhile remove any fat from the top of the sauce (I did this with a small ladle) and then fast boil the sauce until it has thickened slightly.

When the meat is done, cut into slices and serve with some of the sauce poured over. We ate ours with plain boiled basmati rice and spinach, picked only an hour before from the garden, which was simply steamed.

Now…has anyone noticed a slight improvement in my photos today? I do hope so! When I was in the UK last week I picked up my new (well, new to me) camera. It´s a Nikon D60 and I am a total photography virgin when it comes to the camera I now have. It has a couple of lenses. One of them, I am sure, will be able to pick out the hand of cards Big Man is holding when playing with the old boys in the summer if he is sat on the terrace of the bar down the road. I haven´t even read the instruction book yet, so am going to enjoy playing with it over the next few months.  Wish me luck…but don´t worry Roger, you have nothing to fear from me…