Sticky Smoky Bourbon Chicken

Sticky and Smoky Bourbon Chicken

If a recipe has bourbon in the title then you’ve lost me – I’m already in the kitchen snapping open the lid of my Makers Mark drowning my other ingredients with it whilst also sneaking myself a wee dram. If every recipe could have bourbon in it then I’m sure the world would be a much calmer, more relaxed and happy place. Just like me, after my second wee dram.

I’ve been really enjoying reading other people’s blogs lately, I’ve shrugged off my inferiority complex which has been green with envy at the rapier wit of their child’s first day back to school or the renovations they are doing to their vast farmhouse kitchen somewhere in North Dakota. I’m also now appreciating their stunning photography which plays with light and shade as a chocolate cake peeks beautifully out of the shadows, scattered with delicate flowers, without glaring pointedly at my own Canon, cross that it never does that sort of thing for me. So, yah, I’m like super over this pesky jealousy.

Sticky and Smoky Bourbon Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

This week I have been enjoying catching up with Pinch of Yum, whom I discovered via Pinterest. I noticed recently just how many of their photos I have been pinning to my boards so I thought I would go and look at their website for realsies. Now, I have to confess, I only looked at one recipe, which I was enjoying immensely, before I was struck by the Bourbon Effect (totally a thing) on the second recipe and I had barely finished reading the other ingredients before I remembered I had some chicken in the fridge. Well my friend, I had cannonballed myself into the kitchen, snatched the chicken out of the fridge and doused it liberally with Makers Mark before you could say SoberTober. It was pretty lucky then that I also managed to locate the rest of the ingredients in my larder which took less than 5 minutes to measure out and add to the mix. Between my first glance at the recipe and getting my version in the oven it couldn’t have taken longer than 10 minutes, but I might have made some slight alterations here and there to suit exactly what I was after.

Now, the original recipe asked me to marinate my chicken overnight but there was no time for that, this was a bourbon emergency and not a moment could be wasted. I have no idea therefore how much was lost in translation but honestly it couldn’t have been much as boy did this dinner deliver.

Sticky and Smoky Bourbon Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

I also swapped out the sugar that was called for with honey, because I am turning into a bumblebee (yeah, I know they make it they don’t eat it, and also that it’s not bumble bees it’s honey bees – what are you the bee police? I want to be a bumblebee and a bumblebee I shall be kind sir). I also added some chipotle to add a bit of smoky heat to the proceedings, and then a pinch of instant coffee for a bit of dark background noise.

I served my version with a giant mound of garlic broccoli and sugar snap peas because after all that bourbon and honey I had to do a cursory nod towards this diet I’m supposed to be on (argh, when will it start – damn you Bourbon Effect).

Now, I might go and read some more of their recipes, I am also prone to the Cinnamon Effect of late so we shall see how far I get.

Sticky and Smoky Bourbon Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

Sticky and Smoky Bourbon Chicken
Adapted from Pinch of Yum http://pinchofyum.com/sticky-bourbon-chicken-rice
Serves 4

4 chicken legs (I always ask for mine boned with skin intact)
1 large onion, sliced thinly
120ml soy sauce or tamari or coconut aminos
60ml very light olive oil
60ml vinegar (rice or cider or white wine)
60ml bourbon
60g honey
1 teaspoon smoked garlic powder
½ teaspoon chipotle powder
A pinch of instant coffee

  1. Mix all the ingredients together and place in a large casserole dish, with the chicken skin side up and poking out of the sauce.
  2. Leave to marinate for a couple of hours, if you have time.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, then place the casserole dish, uncovered, in the oven for 45 minutes.
  4. Serve with rice, like the original recipe, or green veg like me.

Calypso Chicken

Calypso Chicken
Years ago when my mum was going through a bit of a clear out of a forgotten part of the attic, she came across my father’s old collection of food magazines from the 1980s. With no interest in them herself she offered them to me which I thrillingly accepted and I have been lugging them around with me ever since from house to house, bookshelf to bookshelf, much to my husband’s consternation.

Taste Magazines

They are an absolutely fascinating read and I pick them up every so often when I need a little bit of inspiration that pinterest and my many food blogs sometimes can’t give me with their wonderfully retro recipes and advertisements for Ambrosia custard. Last week I was thinking about the current food revolution in the UK but these magazines go to show that most of us have always cared about the provenance of food and great recipes.

These Taste magazines feel very different to today’s Olive, Delicious or Observer Food Monthly, there are a huge amount of lengthy articles, illustrated recipes and not much in the way of news and only a little on restaurants. Plus, for the most part, the photos, when they are not amusing in their rigid construction with the cooks hovering over the dining tables with magnificent perms and billowing blouses, are frankly a little off putting. I can while away hours flicking through these magazines, some of the articles are still relevant and there is just the same breadth of culturally diverse recipes as modern magazines cover today. Our generation didn’t invent the foodie, they have always existed but now they are just a bit louder, more demanding and they write food blogs.

Rum and Coconut Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

Rum and Coconut Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

Rum and Coconut Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

Rum and Coconut Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

I got a little bit lost in some of the magazines again this morning when I revisited them. Topics covered within the pages range from sections tasting the best supermarket canned sardines. There are articles extolling the virtues of cream, a lovely account of a visit to Beatrix Potter’s country garden and a very detailed piece on drying herbs. Another piece written about modern technology champions the microwave and there is also a hard hitting investigation on whether a couple can live on one 3 kg chicken for a week. Spoiler, they could but they wouldn’t want to. Nail biting stuff.

The recipes themselves range from an exploration of food on sticks to a complicated dish of jellied seafood followed by chicken mousse, which they claim is perfect for a romantic lunch to celebrate the royal wedding. Having spent the week making endless use of the blackberries which I have been foraging there is a lovely looking blackberry and caramel soft scoop ice cream recipe which I wish I had seen a few days ago. Although I did turn my nose up rather snobbishly at a hot potato and frankfurter salad and a low fat recipe for hollandaise which recommends replacing the butter with margarine, eww.

Taste Magazine

However, this recipe for Calypso Chicken which was nestled in a piece about Floella Benjamin’s Caribbean food heritage leapt out at me as soon as I read it. I didn’t think I had ever braised chicken in rum before but suddenly as I began to imagine the possibilities the whole world made total sense. It used creamed coconut, an ingredient which is more than often replaced in modern recipes with coconut milk. Plus angostura bitters is one of my favourite things to use in the kitchen, I usually add it to my fruit pie fillings but I can be more liberal now I know how much it lends to savoury dishes too. Alcohol plus cooking only signals good and tasty things.

I have been messing around with the recipe a little bit, changing the chicken breast to chicken legs to garner more flavour, and upping the quantities of some of the ingredients for more impact. The rum, ahem. It is a brilliant chicken recipe, so easy to put together with a perfect balance of spice in the rich coconut rum sauce. I have been serving mine with crisply fried plantain and fresh chillies sprinkled on top which sparks it off deliciously and have made it several times in the past couple of weeks.

Rum and Coconut Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

Expect to see more 80s recipes soon, now I have started I am going to find it difficult to stop. And I haven’t even begun discussing the crazily elaborate desserts, suffice to say they involve a lot of moulds, jellies and unnecessary garnishes.

Calypso Chicken
Adapted from Taste magazine, March 1987
Serves 4

4 chicken legs, boned
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp salt
black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, de-seeded and sliced
500ml chicken stock
50g creamed coconut
3 tbsp dark rum
good dash of angostura bitters
pinch of saffron
Chopped fresh chilli and parsley to serve

  1. Mix the cumin, garlic powder, chilli powder and salt and pepper together then rub generously over the chicken legs.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish on the hob and as soon as it’s hot add the chicken, skin side down.
  3. Fry the chicken for 10-12 minutes until the skin is crisp and golden. Then with a pair of tongs remove the chicken, set aside and add the onion and green pepper to the casserole dish.
  4. Heat the stock in a small saucepan until boiling, then remove from the heat and add the creamed coconut, rum, angostura bitters and saffron until they are well mixed together.
  5. As soon as the onion and green pepper has softened and are staring to colour in the casserole add the stock mixture, stirring in well with the onions and peppers. Bring up to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Add the chicken on top of the stock, flesh side down and simmer for 40 minutes until the sauce has reduced to thick and creamy.
  6. Sprinkle with chopped fresh chilli and parsley, then serve with crisp plantain.

Orange, Ginger and Sesame Chicken

Orange, Ginger and Sesame Chicken is an easy stir-fry, so convenient for week night dinners and delicious either by itself or with fragrant basmati rice.

Orange, Ginger and Sesame Chicken

I have been cooking stir-fries since I was a student so I know by now exactly how I like them. I always cook off the meat first. This is for a few reasons, mainly so the meat doesn’t overcook, as there is nothing worse than dry chicken in your stir-fry. However, by cooking it in the pan first it will leave behind important flavour for the vegetables to cook in, especially if it’s marinated meat. If it’s beef you are using you can ensure it’s cooked exactly to the rarity you like just by searing it off first thing, but when you add it back in at the end make sure the heat is off so it doesn’t continue cooking.

My stir-fries contain a lot of vegetables so it’s also important that the meat has been set aside; I want them to be free to roam the pan so they don’t steam cook, piled on top of each other, jostling for space with the chicken. My final tip is to only add the vegetables to a hot pan with hot oil, as I want them to be cooked hard and fast so they retain bite and don’t get into a soggy mess. This is why I usually blanch my broccoli for a couple of minutes before adding to the stir fry as otherwise it has too much bite and is a bit of a mouthful.

It’s Day 5 of the Whole30 for me and the main ingredients in this chicken marinade are orange juice and coconut aminos. Orange juice is allowed on the Whole30 but only in cooking and not as a drink. Fruit juice in fact is the only sweetener that’s allowed on the plan, but I’m sure we’re expected to use that knowledge responsibly. Besides, here, it’s just involved in a marinade so not all of the juice makes it into the final dish. The coconut aminos is my new friend who arrived into my house only this week as a substitution for soy sauce and tamari which are not allowed on the Whole30. You can buy coconut aminos from Amazon or a very good organic food shop but it isn’t cheap. However, you don’t need much to flavour a recipe and I think it is worth the investment if you are wondering how to get through 30 days without soy sauce.

This was a quick dinner one evening, late after a personal training session, and I was so hungry that I only took a perfunctory photo, I made it again the next night but it was also late and so no pictures. I did want to include the recipe here though as it is one of my old faithful recipes just slightly adapted for the Whole30 plan. Previously I have made this with soy sauce and sherry so it was a bit of an experiment to substitute the soy with my new coconut aminos and to disinvite the sherry. I used the coconut aminos as a straight swap and I have to say I didn’t notice a difference, the marinade tasted just the same as when I have made it before with soy. I compensated for the lack of sherry by adding some sesame seeds which has actually improved the dish immeasurably. I normally do splash some sweet sherry into my stir-fries at the end of cooking but adding sesame instead not only made my dinner suddenly Whole30 compliant but added a lovely crunch to the vegetables.

The Whole30 plan currently doesn’t allow rice but this stir-fry is so full of lovely vegetables, protein and flavour that you can absolutely get away without it. However, if I wasn’t on Whole30 then for sure I would be serving myself a half portion with plenty of fragrant basmati rice.

Orange, Ginger and Sesame Chicken

Orange, Ginger and Sesame Chicken is an easy stir-fry, so convenient for week night dinners and delicious either by itself or with fragrant basmati rice.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 531kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts cut into thin strips
  • 60 ml coconut aminos or tamari or soy sauce (if not gluten-free or Whole30)
  • 60 ml orange juice
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger cut into matchsticks
  • 1 red chilli finely chopped
  • ½ head of broccoli florets blanched
  • 2 carrots peeled and cut into thin batons
  • Handful of shredded chinese leaf
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Instructions

  • Pour the coconut aminos, the orange juice and the garlic into a medium sized bowl then add the chicken and mix to combine. Leave the chicken to marinate for at least an hour but overnight if possible.
  • Heat a tablespoon of coconut oil in a wok over a medium flame until hot.
  • Remove the chicken from its marinade with a slotted spoon and add to the wok, cooking for 5-10 minutes until the chicken has just turned golden. Remove from the wok and set aside.
  • Add the rest of the coconut oil to the wok and then when hot add the onion, ginger and chilli and cook until the onion is starting to brown.
  • Then add the rest of the vegetables and the sesame seeds. Stir fry for 5 minutes on a high heat.
  • Re-introduce the chicken, combining everything together and serve piping hot with another splash of coconut aminos on top.

Nutrition

Calories: 531kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 51g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 145mg | Sodium: 989mg | Potassium: 1282mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 10535IU | Vitamin C: 58.7mg | Calcium: 128mg | Iron: 2.5mg

SHOP THE RECIPE

Coconut aminos is a larder staple for me which is a gluten-free and soy-free alternative to soy sauce. I personally prefer the taste of coconut aminos to tamari (which is gluten-free but does contain soy) but it is a little pricier. The brand of coconut aminos I love is Cocofina Organic Coconut Amino – Alternative to Soy Sauce 250ml which has a delicious flavour and is what I used in this recipe.

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Goi Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Salad)

Goi Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Salad)

There are some days when nothing goes right. More often than not these days are one off instances where you can wake up the next day, brush yourself off and start anew. This week that did not happen. I am having an unprecedented run of bad luck days. Recipes haven’t worked, food has been burnt and binned and photos have looked plain bad. Never mind the time that I turned my back for one minute and my darling cat jumped on the table, upending a huge bowl of salad and garlicky dressing all over the carpet. Bless.

Food and I are in a funk. This isn’t particularly helpful if you trying to document your kitchen adventures. Here everybody, here’s a picture of my bin overflowing with half baked quinoa gluten-free biscuits soldered onto greaseproof paper. (Don’t worry, that recipe will come good one day, quinoa and I just need a time out at the moment).

There really was only one way to lift me out of the doldrums and put me back on top, by treating myself to a tried and tested recipe. A salad which I know will set me on the right course again.

This salad has known many incarnations in my life. It reminds me of our trip to Vietnam a couple of years ago where every restaurant had their own version, we even spent a brilliant day in Hoi An learning exactly how it’s supposed to be made at the Redbridge Cookery School which I cannot recommend enough the next time you are popping by Hoi An. Regularly I’m sure.

The salad also reminds me of the time I was suffering from a broken foot, I was woefully unable to stand or place any weight on the severely bandaged appendage and a wonderful friend schlepped up from Clapham laden with the ingredients to make her own version of it for me.

It has also been the feature of recent hazy nights out on the Kingsland Road, dropping into one of the Vietnamese cafés for a cheap plate of zingy salad and a bowl of rice noodles to soak up the alcohol.

Safe to say, this salad holds a special place in my heart. It also doesn’t mind if you muck around with some of the ingredients as you can substitute in whatever you have to hand, a bit of pak choi, some sugar snap peas or red peppers. You can swap the chicken for duck or beef or just plain leave it out. I would normally add a few dry roasted peanuts crushed up on top but I didn’t have any on stand by today, but do add some in if you like.

Now, I’m not really one for kitchen gadgets but there is one that I picked up from Lakeland which has slowly become invaluable and makes a bit of an appearance today. A julienne vegetable peeler. Sounds a bit fancy but it is whipped out if I want to make a quick coleslaw or grate some carrots or courgettes. If I use a normal grater I often find the vegetables turn to pulp. This is quick to use, quick to wash and only about £3. So I use it here to juilienne the carrots and the mooli but if you can’t get hold of one then you can just grate them.

Vietnamese chicken salad

 

Goi Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Salad)

4 chicken thighs with skins
2 tsp 5-spice powder
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
½ small mooli, julienned
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
3 leaves of chinese leaf, cut into very fine strips
2 handfuls of beansprouts
2 tbsp coriander leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp chopped dry roasted peanuts

for the dressing
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp fish sauce
½ red chilli, seeds removed and diced

  1. Coat the chicken thighs with the 5-spice powder and the olive oil and roast on a roasting tray in a pre-heated oven at 180°C.
  2. Put the onion in a small saucepan and cook on a low heat for 15 mins until crispy and caramelized, set aside.
  3. Mix together the mooli, carrots, chinese leaf, beansprouts and herbs in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. When ready, remove the chicken from the oven and leave for about 5 minutes until cool enough to handle.
  5. Meanwhile you can make the dressing. Just add all the ingredients together and give a good stir. Set aside whilst you finish off the salad.
  6. Tear the meat and the skin off the chicken into chunks and tip into a bowl, pour over the sticky bits from the roasting tray and mix it all up which will add a bit of juiciness to the salad. Then mix all the chicken into the salad ingredients until the meat is evenly dispersed and pour over the dressing. Serve with the crispy onion and the peanuts scattered over the top.

Roast Chicken with all the Sunday Trimmings

Roast Chicken with all the Sunday TrimmingsI read a very worrying headline in the Daily Mail yesterday, ‘A family dinner? We’d rather eat in front of the telly: How just one in 50 families enjoy once-traditional weekend meal.’ Foregoing my usual scoff at the insular sensationalism typically offered by the Daily Mail, this time I felt a pang of recognition at the topic at hand. Last minute conversations before the working day in our house are often desperately trying to organise how we’ll be able to eat dinner together. Work events, long hours and the occasional quick drink with friends can severely compromise the two of us sitting down at a table at a reasonable hour for dinner. Supper on the sofa happens all too frequently.

The one meal we can always rely upon as a family to both cook together and eat together is our Sunday Lunch. It is absolutely sacrosanct. If we don’t have it at home then we will have it out and we are constantly grading our pubs and nearby eateries with whether they do a decent Sunday Lunch. The conversation always ends the same way though as they might do an okay one, but it is never as good as at home. Roast potatoes can be hard, gravy can be too thin and Yorkshire puddings merely crisp clouds, nice to look at but lacking the necessary pudding.

This Sunday we had something extra special to celebrate as we have a new furry sidekick in our midst. A little bundle of trouble whom after only a few hours of being in our family had already joined in, nestling down between our feet as we ate at the dining table. At least he didn’t jump onto the table and insist on sleeping between the cabbage and potatoes like Willow.

PuppyUnlike the meals we have in the working week, we take pleasure in making lunch on a Sunday centre stage. Today it was the turn of the chicken which I think of as the easiest roast. There are only two things to remember when cooking a chicken; if it’s a small bird it takes 1 hour 15 mins, if it’s a large one it takes 1 hour 30 mins. Any further information is just fancy talk. But I do like to talk fancy. For our classic roast chicken we stuff the cavity with half a lemon, a handful of parsley stalks, a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary and a couple of garlic cloves still in their skins. We rain down salt and pepper like a heavy thunderstorm and finally drench it in olive oil.
Roast ChickenA roast dinner in our house is not complete without carrot and swede mash. I grew up with my grandmother insisting on calling it carrot and turnip probably to annoy my father who was constantly correcting her but I knew what I was getting and now I would never think to let the week end without it. It is one of my top five foods of all time. I give you a few weeks before you discover the rest of that list. It won’t be difficult, the things I like, I tend to have immoderately. Carrot and Swede mash just requires you to peel, then chop the swede into large cubes, chuck it in a large saucepan with the same volume of carrots, peeled and chopped into large circles. The veg is brought to a boil then turned down to a simmer for at least 45 mins. Any less and it just doesn’t mash the same. This is no time for al dente, save that for your baby veg. As soon as a knife can fall through a cube of swede like butter then you can add copious amounts of… butter… and nutmeg and salt and pepper. Jazz it up. The time will come soon when I will beckon you to add crème fraiche but not today, today the butter will be all the dairy you need.
Carrot and SwedeRoast Potatoes! Peel, chop in half, par-boil for 10 mins, drain, bash around in the colander, then throw into a baking tray with hot olive oil, garlic cloves and rosemary and roast in the oven for 45 mins at 180°C. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before.

The gravy, though. Oh, the gravy. Please please tell me you don’t use Bisto? This is the one part that I’m afraid I can’t take any shortcuts on. I think of the gravy for my next roast the moment I am clearing away the one before. The essential ingredient is fresh stock and the sticky bits from today. Since I like all the components of my roast to be ready at the same time, I save the sticky bits from the bottom of the meat, put it in Tupperware and save for the next roast. The same goes for my stock, which is always simmering away on a Sunday night during Downton Abbey whilst we are gorging on pud.  This means today all I had to do was remove my sticky bits from the freezer, heat in a saucepan, add flour, a glug of Marsala, then the stock, a bay leaf and some thyme. If I start cooking this halfway through my chicken time then the gravy is rich and flavoursome by the time the chicken is taken out of the oven. This is never something I regard as a faff because as I said, in my household the Sunday Lunch is absolutely sacrosanct.