Mother’s Day Lemony Garlic Chicken

This is my wife’s all-time favourite dish of all-time, so what better occasion than to treat her than Mother’s Day. For best results, I marinate the chicken overnight so that the flavours of the herbs and lemon permeate the wholle bird.

Serves 4

2.25kg free-range chicken
2 lemons, halved
2 tbsp olive oil
2 springs of fresh rosemary
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crused
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt

Cooking juices from chicken
500ml fresh chicken stock, if available (but some cubes are good)
150ml dry white wine
1 tsp cornflour, mixed with water, to thicken

1. Put 2 halves of lemon, one sprig of rosmary, one sprig of thyme and 1 garlic clove into the cavity of the chicken. Put the stuffed chicken and the rest of the ingredients into a large freezer bag and massage into the bird. Seal and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours. I leave mine overnight.

2. Transfer the chicken to a large roasting tray. Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Roast the chicken for 20 mins per 450g, plus 10-20 mins extra at the end. A bird this size will need 1 hr 50 mins to 2 hrs cooking time.

3. Baste the chicken three times during cooking. Ten-2o mins before the end of the cooking time, increase the oven temperature to 220C/gas 7, to ensure a crispy skin.

4. Transfer the chicken from the roasting tray to a plate and cover with tin foil.

5. Over the hob, heat the juices in the roasting tray and de-glaze with the wine, to get all the sticky bits up from the bottom. Add the stock and continue to boil. Reduce by half.  Whisk the cornflour mixture into the gravy, reduce to a simmer. Pour into a gravy boat ready to serve.

6. Carve the chicken into eight pieces: 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 halves of breast meat.

7. Serve with fluffy, crispy roast potatoes, glazed carrots and creamed leeks.




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Best chips ever: Thrice-cooked

Trust me, chip lovers, this is the best recipe for chips ever. Crispy on the outisde, meltingly fluffy on the inside. I’m cooking them tonight for my Successful Other Half’s birthday. Fillet steak, Stilton and mushrom sauce and thrice-cooked chips. Well, she’s worth it!

Ideally, you’d use a deep-fat frier or a chip pan. I don’t have either, but the results are just as good using a deep, wide non-stick frying pan, such as the Le Creuset I got for my birthday.


Serves 2

3-4 fist-sized floury potatoes (Maris Piper or Kind Edwards are best)
1 litre of cooking oil (I prefer groundnut. A bit more expensive, but it burns at a higher temperature and is odourless)
1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Peel the potatoes and cut into thick chips, around 2cm, or whatever you prefer.I made 24 chips out of my 4 potatoes.

2. Plunge the chips into water, bring back to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook the chips for 10-15 mins, until the edges start to break up a little. You’l need to watch them like a hawk at this stage. Take them out too early, and they’ll be too hard; too late, and you’ll have potato soup. You’re looking for some jagged edges on the sides of the chips.

3. Remove from the heat, drain and plunge into cold water to stop the cooking. Put to one side to dry out.

4. Meanwhile, put the oil in the frying pan and heat until just about to smoke. Test it’s ready by dipping one of the chips into the oil. If it sizzles, it’s time to go.

5. Cook the chips in batches, for 7-10 mins. You’re driving the water out of the chips at this stage. You don’t want them to burn and turn golden, just slightly wrinkled.

6. Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen towel.

7. Put them in the fridge until you’re ready for the final stage.

8. Heat the same oil to a very high temperature, until smoking hot. Remove the chips from the fridge and cook in batches. They should need no more than 2-3 mins t go completely crisp and golden.

9. Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper. Scatter with rock salt and freshly ground black pepper or vinegar.


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Quick ‘n’ Easy Spaghetti & Meatballs

The great thing about this dish is you can make a batch of sauce and split it into two: a nice mild one for the kids and a` spicier version for you (and your partner)

Servew 2-4

Handful of spaghetti
1 tbsp olive oil
500g lean mince beef or pork (your choice)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed and finely chopped
500g carton or jar of passata (sieved tomatoes)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp chilli powder (optional)
Grated Parmesan, to serve

1. With your hands, shape the mince into golfball-sized balls. I made 18.

2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and brown the meatballs all over for 5-7 mins.

3. Remove the meatballs from the pan and drain on kithen towel.

4. Wipe the frying pan clean and add the other 1 tbsp oil. Gently fry the onions and garlic for 4-5 mins until soft. Add a little water if they start to catch.

5. Add the passata and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook over a gentle heat for 15 mins, adding a little water if the sauce becomes too thick.

6. Return the meatballs to the sauce and cook through for 20-25 mins.

7. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti according to pack instrucitons, around 9-10 mins.

8. Drain the spaghetti and dish up the meatballs. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

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Pasta Juliana

One of the barmaids in my local asked me to come up with a pasta recipe so she can treat her veggie boyfriend Daniel, so here it is. I cooked this last night while my wife was out with friends. All the ingredients were in the storecupboard, fridge or freezer.

Serves 2

Farfalle pasta (2 generous handfuls)
2 red peppers, de-seeded, cut into chunks, then chargrilled and skins removed (best way to do this is put the grilled peppers in a plastic bag for a few minutes. When you remove them the skins will be loose enough to peel away)
1 courgette, cut into 1cm slices and salted (to draw out moisture: to do this, put the slices on a piece of kitchen towel and sprinkle over a little salt and leave for 5-10 mins)
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
Handful of frozen broad beans, parboiled in a little salted water
Glug of white wine
100ml double cream
Parmesan cheese, grated
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta, according to pack instructions, for 8-10 mins, until al dente

2. Add a little oil to a frying pan and gently saute the courgettes, garlic and chillies, until tender, approx. 2-3 mins

3. Add the double cream, then peppers and beans, then the wine. Bring to a gentle simmer and warm through.

4. Drain the pasta, return to the pan, then toss together with the courgette and pepper sauce

5. Serve with grated Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper

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Roast chicken thighs and red chillies

This is so simple, yet so effective. The chicken is so moist it falls off the bone, and the chillies develop an intensely sweet flavour. There are just 5 ingredients (6 if you include the salt).

Serves 2

5-6 red chillies
150g ghee (or clarified butter)
1/2 tsp salt
4 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp garam masala

1. Soak the chillies in water for 4 hours. Remove the seeds with a knife and discard. Pat the chillies dry.

2. On the hob, gently heat the ghee in a large casserole dish, then add the salt and chillies. Add the chicken pieces and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook on a very low flame for 30-40 mins, until tender. The chicken should poach in the ghee, not fry.

3. Stir in the garlic and cook for a further 15 mins. Sprinkle with garam masala.

4. Transfer to a serving plate and serve with naan bread of chapatis.


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Saturday night special: Chocolatey Chilli Con Carne

This is the best chilli I’ve tasted. I saw it being cooked on Saturday Kitchen a couple of years ago and dspite trying other versions, this is the one I always come back to. It’s deep and rich but doesn’t blow your head off. The magic ingredient is dark chocolate, which takes the dish to another level. For an even tastier dish, I cook this the night before and re-heat it the next day. Ideally, cook in a slow cooker or a casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid. I’ve got a Cuisinart slow cooker and a Le Creuset casserole dish

Serves 4, or use half for 2 people and freeze the other half

2 tbsp olive oil
1 kg beef mince
2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 celery stick, diced
2 chillies, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp tomato puree
400g can tomatoes
250ml beef stock
25g dark chocolate, finely chopped
400g can kidney beans
Coriander leaves, to garnish

1. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and gently brown the mince. Drain and set aside.

2. In the same pan, sweat the onions, garlic, chillies and celery until soft.

3. Add the spices and fry for 1 minute.

4. Return the beef to the panl, then add the tomatoes, tomato puree and stock. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

5. Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker or casserole dish. If using a slow cooker, cook on ‘Low’ setting for 4 hours. If in a casserole dish, cook at 160C/gas 2 for 4 hours.

6. In the last half hour, add the chocolate and kidney beans and stir through.

7. Check the seasoning. Sprinkle with coriander leaves and serve with rice or tortillas.

You can also use this chilli as a great filling for tortilla wraps to make burritos. Sprinkle with grated cheese and cook in a hot oven for 7-10 mins, until the cheese melts.

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Stunning Southern Fried Chicken

We had this on Saturday night with potato salad and sweetcorn (it was out of a tin, because the corn on the cob is out of season). There are a lot of ingredients here, but if you double the quantities, you can store what you don’t use in a little Tupperware box so you can have it again.

Serves 2-4, depending on appetitie

Chicken pieces, skinless (I used two drumsticks and two thighs)
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp fenugreek (either powdered leaves or crushed seeds)
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
Dash of Tabasco
200g plain flour
500ml buttermilk
4 tbsp cornflour
500ml vegetable and 3 tbsp butter, for frying

In a pestle and mortar, pound the garlic and salt to a paste and mix with the rest of the herbs and spices. Rub half into the chicken and reserve half. Transfer to a plastic bag and leave in the fridge for two hours, then pour in the buttermilk and massage into the chicken. Put it back in the fridge and leave overnight.

The next day, remove the chicken from the bag and shake off excess marinade. In a bowl, mix the other half of the garlic, herbs and spices mixture with the flour and cornflour. Dip the chicken pieces into the mixture, making sure the chicken is coated all over. Transfer the chicken to a wire rack and leave to dry for 20 minutes, then coat in the flour mixture again.

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. In a large, deep frying pan, heat the oil until moderately hot and add the butter. Fry the chicken pieces a few minutes on each side until golden. Transfer to a baking tray and put in the oven for 15-20 mins, until cooked. To test, insert a skewer into the thicken past of the meat and if the juices run clear it is ready.

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