Roast Chicken and Feta Salad with Minted Yoghurt Dressing

Chicken and Feta Salad with Minted Yoghurt Dressing

This salad was borne from a desire to use up leftover roast chicken but was such a treat that I made a huge batch of it again the next day, this time roasting up a couple of chicken breasts especially for the event.

Now, I’m not one for do-ahead salads. For starters I don’t like cold salads, they need to be brought up to room temperature first so by the time you’ve decided you’re hungry you might as well have knocked it together there and then rather than twiddling your fingers for half an hour whilst the chill is knocked off your lunch.

Pre-dressed salads are also usually a problem, as heavy dressings render delicate leaves a soggy mulch, or worse if there’s garlic involved create a pungency to the whole affair which detracts from the light bright flavours you began with. My Chicken and Feta Salad with Minted Yoghurt encountered no such issues though and after having made a fair amount to last for a few days I popped it, dressing and all, into the fridge until I was ready to eat it over the next few days.

Chicken and Feta Salad with Minted Yoghurt Dressing

This salad holds no leaves to wilt or garlic to intoxify so the fresh flavours are kept intact. In fact, they are improved upon as the feta simply soaks up flavour so over the next couple of days it took on more depth from the lemon and mint. There is also no oil in the dressing so there is no chance of the dressing weighing down the other ingredients.

Okay, so I did have to take my salad out of the fridge for a bit so the flavours could re-ignite in room temperature but after about 15 minutes of impatience I dove in and found I hadn’t lost anything in its preservation.

Chicken and Feta Salad with Minted Yoghurt Dressing

Now you must be fussy when gathering ingredients for this salad, not only should you insist upon the best tomatoes you can find and of course organic free-range chicken, bone intact and skin on so it retains moisture during its roasting, but this salad also benefits hugely from the inclusion of extremely good feta. Supermarket feta is so hit and miss, more often than not a bit dry and crumbly and until you’ve overdosed on the good stuff in Greece you may not even know how much you like it. I am lucky though to be within spitting distance of Ally Pally farmers’ market on a Sunday where there is an excellent producer eager to offload his wonderful olives, pickled garlic and sundried tomato antipasti. It’s his feta that is the star of the show though, tangy, dense and sublimely creamy, although you have to get to the market early as he always sells out.

Chicken and Feta Salad with Minted Yoghurt Dressing

Roast Chicken and Feta Salad with Minted Yoghurt Dressing

Serves 2

2 chicken breasts on the bone
2 teaspoons olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
150g cucumber, halved and de-seeded
200g tomato, roughly chopped
3 celery sticks, sliced thinly
½ red onion, halved and sliced thinly
120g feta

For the dressing:
1 tablespoon yoghurt
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
good handful of fresh mint leaves, diced finely
juice of ½ lemon
1/8 teaspoon salt

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Mix the olive oil and lemon juice with some seasoning then rub all over the chicken breasts.
  3. Place in a roasting tray and roast in the oven for 40 minutes, basting halfway through.
  4. Remove the chicken from the oven and leave to rest whilst you prepare the rest of the salad.
  5. Toss the cucumber, tomatoes, celery and red onion in a large bowl and crumble over the feta.
  6. In a separate small bowl whisk together all your dressing ingredients and pour most of it evenly over the salad.
  7. Toss it all together and heap into bowls.
  8. Remove the chicken from the bone, then slice and serve over the salad, drizzling over a final bit of dressing.

Sun Scorcher Chilli Chutney and Devil’s Pheasant Legs

This is the tale of the Transformation of the Humble Chilli Chutney into the Magnificent Devil’s Pheasant. Or The Eff Up and The Fix.

So, I was trying to be clever but I should know from past experience that it isn’t a good look on me. I have made Jamie Oliver’s cheeky chilli chutney from his Jamie At Home book before and it went down a storm in our house. I have always meant to make it again but truth be told it is a little bit of a faff as you have to scorch the chillies under the grill before peeling them.

So when I brought home 1 kilo of luminescent yellow chillies from the farmers market I gallantly thought that I would spend a day making a season’s worth of chilli chutney to keep us going through the cold months. Never mind the fact that in Jamie’s recipe he only asked us to grill and peel 8 chillies and I thought that was a lot of effort. I had 35 of them.

At this point I should have changed this part of the recipe and thought sod it and just chucked them in peel and all like a sane cook would do. But I remembered how nice it was not to pick all that stringy skin out of your teeth and I threw a halo over my head, halved each chilli, chucked them under the grill and then painstakingly peeled each one.

It was at this point in the recipe that I thought I knew better than Jamie. I tried one of these yellow chillies and it was a mild as a newborn lamb so I thought, well I want a bit of heat in my chutney so howsabout I just leave the seeds in. This was a brilliant idea. I patted myself on the back for my ingenuity and bunged the chillies and seeds but not skin into the preserving pan along with the rest of the ingredients.

chilli chutney in the panThe first clue appeared about half an hour later when the tips of my fingers started to sizzle ever so slightly despite having washed them keenly after the peeling process. Then my eyelids started to quiver. I ran to the preserving pan and lifted the lid carefully. The heat of the contents blew my eyebrows off my head like a cartoon animal. To say the smallest pinprick of the chutney alone was enough to send me into cardiac arrest would be an understatement. I bottled the chutney threw a danger label on it and pondered what I could do with it to save my whole day from being a waste.
chilli chutney
I have left it for a week and it has mellowed out a smidge. A smidge. The initial taste is vibrant, sweet and hot, before it burns your throat. However, all it needs is tempering down and so I decided to try it out with the pheasant legs I had just acquired. I blanketed the pheasant with a couple of teaspoons of the chutney swirled into cooling yoghurt and baked it in the oven much like you would with chicken tandoori. The result was lovely. The gamey pheasant could easily handle the chilli heat and simmering it down with the yoghurt meant you could still appreciate the complexity of the chutney taste. It made a really nice alternative to chicken drumsticks and the pheasant legs are so cheap at the moment from your local game supplier that it’s great for feeding a crowd.
Devils pheasant ingredients
If you like a fresh hot chilli chutney then this recipe even persuaded me in the end. The quantities will not be right if you substitute in red or green chillies so I wouldn’t advise it. If you wanted a chutney with less heat then don’t add the seeds, or add a quarter of them. An easy alternative for the pheasant dish would just be to use some harissa if you don’t feel like peeling a whole bunch of chillies and peppers.

Sun Scorcher Chilli Chutney
Heavily adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie At Home

1 kilo of yellow chillies
9 yellow bell peppers
2 large onions
A couple of sprigs of rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cinnamon
200g caster sugar
300ml cider vinegar

  1. Halve the chillies, discarding as many of the seeds as you want. If you want sun scorcher chilli chutney them don’t remove any of them. Halve the bell peppers too and place the peppers and chillies skin side up under a hot grill. Grill them in batches as they won’t all fit under at once.
  2. Once they are blackened, remove and put immediately into a bowl covered with cling film. Leave until they are cool enough to handle.
  3. Peel off the blackened skin which should come off easily then dice very small.
  4. Place the chillies and peppers into a preserving pan with the rest of the ingredients. Bring to the boil then simmer for about 1 hour until the chutney has reduced to a nice syrupy consistency.
  5. Bottle into sterilised jars.

Devil’s Pheasant Legs

10 x pheasant legs
300g greek style yoghurt
2 tsp sun scorcher chilli chutney
1 tsp tomato puree
salt and pepper

  1. Mix all the ingredients together and rub over the pheasant legs.
  2. Marinade for at least 1 hour but preferably overnight.
  3. Take the pheasant legs out of the marinade and place on a baking tray.
  4. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 180°C for 10-15 mins. The pheasant legs still want to be very slightly pink.
  5. If the yoghurt hasn’t crusted up quite enough then you can finish off with a blowtorch.