Perfect roast chicken

This recipe isn’t for those looking for the quickest way to roast a whole chicken, but it truly is the one that gives you that extra special, juiciest one. Years ago, when I was practicing the cooking of roast chicken, I must’ve gone through so many different instructions. At the time I came across this recipe, I was a big fan of Heston Blumenthal, so I had to try his recipe. And boy, is this still the best, most perfect roast chicken I’ve ever had! It may seems like it requires a lot of effort and time, and yes, you may need to be organised with your time management, but after the short prep for the steps at the beginning you have a lot of free time. I don’t always do the brining the day before, but if you want it very special I would recommend you try. I’ve served mine with roast potatoes click here for my recipe, Vichy carrots, Yorkshire pudding click here for my recipe, minted pea puree and gravy made with the cooking juices of the chicken.

6% brine
5 litres water
300g table salt

Chicken
1.5- 2kg whole chicken
1 lemon
bunch of thyme
125g butter, plus extra for rubbing onto the skin
30ml dry white wine (I use Sauvignon Blanc) 

Gravy
20ml dry white wine
250ml chicken stock
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 sprig of tarragon (leaves only)
1 sprig of parsley

1. To make the brine, mix the salt with water, and warm until dissolved. I do this with about 3 litres of water, and then add the remaining two litres afterwards, as this will help brine cool down quicker.

2. Place the chicken in a container, large enough for the chicken to be submerged in the water entirely. Once the brine has cooled down, pour over the chicken. Cover with clingfilm, and keep in the fridge overnight.

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3. Remove the chicken from the water, and dry with kitchen tissue. Remove the wishbone (this will make carving easier).

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4. Bash the lemon on the table a few times, and stab all around with a sharp knife. Place inside the chicken, together with half of the thyme. Place the bird on a roasting rack, and rub some butter on the skin.

5. Heat the oven to a very low temperature of 80°C / 180°F, and cook the chicken until the inside temperature of the thickest part of the breast is 60°C / 140°F (official recommendations are usually for the inside temperature to be 75°C / 165°F, if worried you can always cook until that. I have however never had any problems with cooking to the lower temperature). The cooking should take about 3-4 hours.

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6. Take the chicken out of the oven, and rest for at least 45 minutes. I sometimes get to this stage early in the day, which then allows me to go out, and continue once I’m back. Or, during the resting you can make your roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings.

7. Melt the butter in a pan and add 30ml white wine and a few sprigs of thyme. Bring to boil, then remove from the pan from the heat and use the melted butter to baste the chicken before and during browning.

8. Heat the oven as high as it goes. Once the resting time has elapsed, put the chicken back in the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden brown, but taking care it doesn’t burn. Once coloured, remove from the oven. Keep on a cooling rack. Season your carved chicken with salt and black pepper.

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9. Add white wine to the roasting tray with the cooking juices, and place on the hob over medium heat. Scrape the edges and bottom of the tray, and stir. Add the chicken stock, and reduce until thickened to a sauce. Strain into a small saucepan.

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10. Before serving, stir in the mustard and warm through. Add the finely chopped parsley and tarragon, and season with salt and black pepper.

Sweet and sour chicken

As I was driving home from work I didn’t yet know what to cook for dinner. My husband fancied some sweet and sour chicken, and I thought it was a great idea to use up the left over rice we had too, so that was decided. Luckily, I still had one portion of my homemade chicken stock in the freezer too. This was also a good dish to make that didn’t take up too much of my evening once at home.

350ml chicken stock (Homemade chicken stock)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
4 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground white pepper
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tbsp tomato puree
4 tsp potato flour (or corn flour), mixed with 1-2 tbsp water
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2 chicken breasts, cut in pieces
5 chestnut mushrooms
1 carrot
1 red or green pepper
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 spring onions

1. Peel and slice the carrot, and chop the pepper into fairly big pieces. Place in boiling water for 4 minutes. Pour the water away and set carrot and pepper aside.

2. In the pan, heat your chicken stock. I tend to take my homemade stock out of the freezer just when needing it, and I just defrost it by melting in the pan. While the stock is warming, mix the other sauce ingredients, apart from the flour and water. Add to the stock, and bring to boil. Add the carrot and pepper. Mix the flour and water, and add to the stock. Boil for couple of minutes, then reduce the heat to simmer. Stir from time to time.

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3. Fry the chicken in a pan (I use groundnut oil with this dish). Once just about cooked, add the chopped mushrooms, garlic, onion and spring onion, and fry, stirring, for couple of minutes.

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4. Pour the sauce on the chicken, and stir everything together.

Nasi Goreng with chicken

This dish is something I was already cooking before our recent holiday to Bali, but it was only during this holiday that I learned Nasi Goreng actually is Indonesian food. I had to of course sample it a few times whilst there, to find out how my one compares. Having now eaten it at it’s original, local environment, I’m proud to say mine is as good as the original. Nasi Goreng itself means fried rice. I didn’t particularly plan that I was going to make this this week, so I didn’t have prawns that are normally part of it, but I’ve added them to the recipe. Last time I made the paste I saved half in the freezer, and used it now.

Nasi Goreng paste
3 tbsp ground nut oil
4 garlic cloves
2 large shallots
15g roasted salted peanuts
6 green small chillies
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp dried shrimp paste
1 tbsp dark soy sauce

Nasi Goreng rice
1.5 dl uncooked long grain rice
2 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
2 large eggs
vegetable oil (I use rapeseed oil)
4 large shallots, finely chopped
150g peeled and cooked prawns
1/2 cucumber, chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
salt
black pepper

1. Put all paste ingredients in a blender, and blitz together until smooth paste.

2. Cook the rice in boiling, salted water until tender. Depending on rice this will take around 10-15 minutes. Drain, and rinse. Drain again, and spread on a tray to cool during the other food prep.

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3. Beat the eggs with salt and pepper, and fry in a little oil into three thin omelettes, frying briefly on both sides. Roll them up, and cool. Once cooled, cut into thin strips.

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4. Heat a good splash of oil (few tbsp) in a pan, and add about half of the paste, or 4-5 tbsp. Fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring,  and add the shallots and chicken. Stir, making sure all chicken pieces are coated with the paste.

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5. Once the chicken is cooked through, add the cooled rice, and prawns. Fry, stirring, until warmed through, then add the cucumber, spring onions and soy sauce, and stir fry for couple of minutes.

Chinese chicken noodle soup

I love this basic Chinese soup. I make different variations of it, sometimes with chicken, sometimes with king prawns. It’s also easy to add / leave ingredients out, I sometimes add thinly sliced red peppers, as well as sesame seeds on top for visual effect. Also, I don’t always use the egg. The only thing however that is a must to me, is to have my homemade chicken stock in the freezer. I’ve never made this soup with shop bought stock, and I’m not interested in trying it either. This doesn’t mean you can’t try it of course, I just don’t know how that kind of stock would affect the end taste. Sometimes I use chicken cut in pieces, today I wanted to use shredded chicken.

serves 2
1 egg
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 spring onion
2 chestnut mushrooms
half a thumb size piece of fresh root ginger
1 small green chilli
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp light soy sauce
800-900ml chicken stock Homemade chicken stock
vermicelli rice noodles
1 chicken breast

1. Poach the chicken breast in the simmering stock for 10-15 minutes.

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2. Finely chop garlic, ginger and chilli.  Slice the mushrooms and spring onion. Remove the chicken breast from the stock, and cool. Add garlic, ginger,chilli, mushrooms and spring onions to the liquid, and simmer for few minutes.

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3. If using the egg, beat it together with the sesame oil. Add all other remaining ingredients to the stock apart from the egg and chicken. Cook for few minutes, and add the vermicelli noodle. The noodle I use is a packet of 5 ‘blocks’, total weight of 225g. All that is needed is one of the blocks.

4. Once the chicken has cooled, shred it by hand. It will very easily break into strands when you start pulling it apart. One breast gives you surprisingly much. Once shredded, add to the stock.

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5. Pour the egg to the stock in a fine stream. Stock will become cloudy at first, but once the egg is cooked, stock will be clearer again. Pull egg into strands by a fork or chopsticks.

Butter chicken curry

A lot of people seem to think that curry always means spicy, and if they don’t like spicy food they’re not interested. You couldn’t be further from the truth thinking this way. It is true that it can often be spicy, but there is so much more curry (or Indian food) can offer. I think the main thing about Indian food is flavor, spicy or not. I’m actually a friend of spicy food, however this is one of my favourite non-spicy curries. It’s amazing the fragrance you will get when cooking this food, certain to awaken your appetite. Last time I made this I thought the sauce itself was too runny, so I reduced the liquid in todays’ recipe, however I thought it might have been too thick to my taste this time. The recipe is for my cooking today, and if you want yours slightly runnier just add a bit more of the liquids. Cooking Indian curries can usually be a little bit time consuming in terms of needing you to be organized well in advanced, needing preparations a long time before cooking, but I can promise you it’s all worth it.

2-3 chicken breasts
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100ml natural yoghurt
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp fresh root ginger (about half a thumb size piece, then cut the skin off)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp tomato puree
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50g butter
1 cinnamon sticks
3 cardamom pods (bruised)
1 medium onion or a few shallots
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground paprika
1 dl chicken stock (click here for recipe)
1/2 – 1 tin of tomato puree (I used a small tin of 140g of double concentrate)
150ml cream

1. Finely chop garlic and peeled ginger, and mix all marinade ingredient together. Chop the chicken to desired size pieces. Mix into the marinade. Cover with cling film, and cover for overnight, or 6-8 hours (I have done this for less time when I haven’t been organized enough, but the longer you marinate the better it’ll be).

2. Finely chop onion. Heat the butter in a pan, and add the onions, cinnamon and cardamoms. For bruised cardamoms, put a knife over the pods, resting the knife flat side on the pods, and hit the knife with your fist. Cook until the onions become translucent, stirring.

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3. Add the chicken marinade, and cook for about 5 minutes.

4. Add all remaining ingredients apart from the cream, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Then add the cream, and cook for another 10 minutes.