Paella Valencia-style

Smoked paprika

Serves a hungry 2

Pinch of saffron
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
6 chicken wings, halved, tips discarded, lightly seasoned with sea salt
½ green pepper, deseeded and sliced
½ red pepper, deseeded and sliced
4 runner beans, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 rounded tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp tomato puree
200g paella rice (or bomba rice or similar)
650ml chicken stock, plus extra if needed
Sea salt
A small 200g tin of broad beans or butter beans, drained

Heat a paella pan or wide based pan to a medium-high heat.

Prepare the saffron. Wrap it in a small foil envelope and place it in the hot pan for 10 seconds on each side. Remove and set aside.

Add the oil to the pan and when hot add the garlic. Add the chicken and fry it, turning the pieces regularly until well browned and nearly cooked through, approx. 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Remove any excess oil from the pan. Add the peppers and green beans to the pan and stir fry until well coloured.

Sprinkle over the paprika, then stir in the tomato puree. Gently stir in the rice and toast for a few minutes. Crumble the saffron into the stock and pour it over the rice, season with sea salt, stir very gently to mix. Don’t stir too much.

Once simmering, return the chicken to the pan and add the broad beans. Stir in gently. Simmer on a fairly high heat without stirring, then lower the heat a simmer gently for another 5 to 10 minutes, again without stirring. If it starts to dry out too much, add a splash of boiling water but not too much as the finished dish mustn’t be soggy and the edges and bottom layer of rice should be crispy.

As soon as the rice is cooked take the pan off the heat and cover with foil to allow it to rest for 3 to 4 minutes before serving.

Jerk Chicken in a Slow Cooker

Pieces of raw chicken meat on a white background

Serves 4

In this recipe the chicken is marinated for 24 hours then cooked slowly in a slow cooker. The meat is soft and delicious and has all the essential flavours of Jamaican jerk chicken.

You can buy slow cooker liner bags from Amazon or some cook shops. I don’t often use them but for this dish they come in to their own. You place all of the ingredients in the bag to marinate and then place the bag in the slow cooker to cook the dish. It’s incredibly easy and, as an added benefit, the bowl of the slow cooker doesn’t get dirty so with a quick wipe your washing up is done.

1 red onion, peeled and chopped
5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 ½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 fresh green chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped (don’t skimp here, this dish needs heat)
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Juice of ½ an orange juice
8 medium chicken leg portions (thighs or drumsticks or a mix of the two), skin removed

Blitz all of the ingredients, except for the last 4 (sugar, vinegar, juice and chicken) in a blender until you have a rough puree. Add the sugar, vinegar and orange juice and blitz again until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the mixture into a slow cooker food bag, add the chicken and seal with wire ties. Give everything a good squish to make sure all the chicken is coated and place in the fridge for 24 hours.

To cook, remove the wire ties and place the bag in the bowl of a slow cooker. Scrunch or fold down the top of the bag to form a rough seal. Cook on high for 1 hour, then on low for 4 hours.

I like to serve this with rice and peas and, if you are feeling healthy, a green salad on the side.

Simple Chicken Vindaloo

Raw chicken thighs

Serves 4

The eagle-eyed amongst you will see this recipe is virtually identical to my simple pork vindaloo recipe. I’m giving it here because I know some people prefer chicken to pork.

I find that meat curries absorb spices more readily than chicken curries do, so chicken curries tend to be hotter. I add sweet peppers to this recipe to temper the heat.

I use Patak’s vindaloo spice paste, simply because that is the brand that my local supermarket stocks but I’m sure other brands will work just as well.

Be careful not to add too much salt at the start. Shop-bought spice pastes are quite salty to start with. You can always add more salt later but you can’t take it away!

My slow cooker has three settings – low, medium and high. I find I get the best results if I start it off on medium for one hour and then turn the heat down to low for the rest of the cooking time. If you don’t have a medium setting, just cook it on low from the start.

4 sweet peppers (mixed colours), deseeded and chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 chicken thighs (bones in and skin on)
3 onions, sliced
2 tsp minced garlic (from a shop bought jar)
2 tsp minced ginger (from a shop bought jar)
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 x 283g jar of Patak’s Vindaloo Spice Paste
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes (I use Mutti pulped tomatoes)
1 chicken stock cube dissolved in a little boiling water
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons (at least) of red wine vinegar

Lightly oil the bowl of a 6.5 litre slow cooker and add the chopped peppers. (If your slow cooker is smaller, just scale down the ingredients.)

Heat the oil in a wide based pan then brown the chicken in batches, using a slotted spoon to remove each batch to a bowl once it is browned. Once all the chicken has been browned, add a little more oil to the pan if needs be then slowly soften and brown the onions, approx. 20 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the black pepper and vindaloo spice paste and stir fry for another minute, making sure the mixture doesn’t catch.

Add the coconut milk, tomatoes, stock, salt and vinegar and bring to a simmer. Return the pork to the pan and bring it all up to a gentle simmer.

Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker, give it a stir and cook on low for 8 hours. At the end of that time you may find a lot of oil has risen to the surface (the amount will depend on how fatty your chicken was). Skim off and discard the oil, then give everything a good stir. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning adding salt if needs be and adding cayenne pepper if you want to crank up the chilli heat.

Piri piri chicken

raw-chicken

Serves 4

This recipe follows up last week’s recipe for piri piri sauce. Once you have that made, this dish is so simple to prepare, it is hardly a recipe at all! For virtually no work you will be rewarded with delicious, moist, subtly spiced chicken.

If you want to make your life even easier you can use a bottle of ready-made piri piri sauce and you’ll find plenty to choose from in your local supermarket. I’m generally not a fan of them though, with the notable exception of Quinta d’Avo Piri-Piri Hot Sauce which is worth buying if you can get hold of it.

If you are buying your chicken from a supermarket, it will probably be trussed. If so, cut and remove the string and open up the legs before marinating it. It will cook more evenly if the heat can circulate freely.

1 medium (1.2kg) chicken (detrussed!)
5 tablespoons home-made piri piri sauce (see recipe) OR 1 bottle (90g) of Quinta d’Avo Piri-Piri Hot Sauce
50g melted butter

Place the chicken in an oven-proof glass or ceramic roasting dish and pour over the piri piri sauce making sure all of the bird is covered. Cover in cling film and marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.

Remove the cling film from the chicken. Melt the butter (in a bowl in a microwave) and pour it over the chicken. Cover tightly with foil, making sure the foil is not actually touching the chicken (otherwise it may scorch) and place it in the centre of the oven. Cook for 1 ½ hours, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes. Baste the chicken a couple of times during this last 15 minutes of cooking. Once the cooking time is up, remove the dish from the oven, cover it in foil and leave it to stand for 10 minutes.

When the 10 minutes is up, transfer the chicken to a large chopping board, being careful not to lose any precious juices. Pull all of the meat from the chicken and cut it into bite sized pieces. Place the chicken on a pre-heated platter and pour over all of the juices from the roasting dish.

This chicken is excellent served with all manner of things, such as baked potatoes, sweet corn, salad, pasta, rice or any crisp vegetables.

Chicken Fajitas

Cumin_Ground low res

Serves 2 to 4, depending how hungry you are!

Fajitas are a firm favourite of lovers of Mexican food. This recipe is for chicken but it’s just as good with strips of fillet steak (or rump steak if you don’t mind chewing!).

The spice mix in this recipe has a mild heat. Any left-over spice mix will keep well for ages in a sealed spice jar.

For the fajita spice blend…
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 ½ tsp paprika
½ tsp salt

For the finished dish…
2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 large sweet peppers (1 red and 1 green) cored, deseeded and thinly sliced
2 red onions, thinly sliced
8 soft flour tortillas (wraps)
Optional to serve: guacamole, soured cream and/or salsa.

Simply rub a little oil onto the chicken breasts then rub on a generous amount of the fajita spice blend and leave to marinate for up to an hour. Then bake in a moderate oven (180c) until cooked through. Leave to cool slightly, then cut into thin slices.

Meanwhile, heat some oil and stir-fry some thinly sliced red and green peppers and red onions until just starting to soften. Sprinkle with some fajita spice blend, stir and remove from the heat.

Serve the chicken, peppers and onions in soft flour tortillas adding guacamole, soured cream and/or salsa according to taste.

Trinidad 3 Times Cooked Chicken

limes low res

Serves 4

I call this dish 3 times cooked because it is first marinated, then simmered and cooled before being simmered again. This allows the flavours to develop at various stages. The finished dish is soft, rich and piquant.

This is my version of a dish I had in the Bahamas a while back. The restaurant called it Trinidad Chicken. I subsequently showed the recipe to a Trinidadian lady I know and she told me it didn’t resemble any chicken dish she’d ever had! So, I don’t know how authentic it is but it jogs a happy memory. Most importantly, it tastes fan-tas-tic and is definitely in my chicken recipes hall of fame.

For the marinade…
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 large celery stick, finely sliced
2 spring onions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
½ tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
8 chicken thighs

For the finished dish…
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
25g dark brown soft sugar
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup (it’s got to be Heinz, hasn’t it?)
225ml water

In a large bowl, combine all of the marinade ingredients except the chicken. Add the chicken, turning it to coat well, cover it with cling film and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Remove the chicken thighs and pat dry with kitchen paper, reserving the marinade mixture. In a large heavy-based saucepan, heat the oil over a medium heat until hot but not smoking and add half the sugar. When the sugar begins to bubble add half the chicken thighs and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned. Remove the chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining sugar and chicken thighs. Remove those too to the plate once they are well browned.

Pour the reserved marinade into the pan, add the tomato ketchup and water and bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer it, covered, for 45 minutes. At the end of that time, remove the pan from the heat and let it go completely cold – approximately 2 to 3 hours. At this stage the dish can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

To serve, bring the pan back to simmering point and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

This dish is delicious served with rice pilaf, pineapple chutney and a crisp green salad.

Blackened Chicken

Blackened chicken recipe low res

Serves 4

The great thing about using rubs is that you can turn out fantastic tasting food with virtually no effort. When I first started blending herbs and spices, one of the first I made was a blackening seasoning which I call Hubba Hubba Blackening Spice. It is still one of my favourites. It works on any meat, fish or poultry but is particularly good on chicken and salmon. The spice mix has a medium heat at most, so don’t be frightened of it!

If you haven’t already made up some Hubba Hubba Blackening Spice, don’t worry because it’s easy to make and you can check out the recipe here.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 heaped teaspoons Hubba Hubba Blackening Spice
4 whole chicken legs (drumsticks and thighs)

Mix the spice mix into the oil and rub onto the chicken pieces to coat evenly. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Bake in the oven at 180°C until cooked, approx. 45 minutes.

I like to serve this with cherry tomatoes on the vine that have been seasoned with salt, pepper and balsamic and roasted alongside the chicken. Serve with a freshly made salad and you have a perfect summer dish.

Baby Caesar Salad with Tea Smoked Chicken and Truffle Oil

Croutons

Serves 3 as a starter

We are in real dinner party or fine dining territory here. Keep it sophisticated by serving delicate portions. This dish is excellent served as part of a tasting menu.

For the Caesar dressing…
1 large egg
1 clove garlic, peeled & chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 heaped teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
50g tin of anchovy fillets in oil, drained but with the oil reserved
150ml olive oil
40g powdered parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper

Place the egg, garlic, lime juice, mustard powder, Worcestershire sauce and drained anchovy fillets in a food processor and blend until smooth. Slowly add the anchovy oil and olive oil until the sauce has a creamy consistency. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper if needs be.

For the tea smoked chicken…
1 tablespoon each of sugar, salt and tea
5 star anise
1 chicken breast, butterflied

Put the sugar, salt, tea and star anise in a foil packet, scrunched but with the top of the packet open. Place in a wok, heat until smoking, add the chicken (on a plate) and cover. Smoke for 5 minutes then turn over and smoke for a further 5 minutes.

Remove the chicken and finish cooking under a grill. Leave to go cold and cut into wafer thin slices.

For the truffle oil infused croutons…
Crustless white bread, cubed
Olive oil
Truffle oil

Toss the cubes of bread in the oils. The amount of oil you will need will depend on the age of your bread. They just need a very light coating and you don’t want them to be greasy. Place the croutons on a baking tray and bake on the oven at 180c for about 10 minutes. Leave to go cold.

To serve…
Small crisp lettuce leaves (or a Cos lettuce, roughly chopped)

Toss the lettuce leaves in the dressing and arrange on serving plates. Add a few slices of smoked chicken and sprinkle with a few croutons.

Bang Bang Chicken Salad

Crunchy peanut butter jpeg

Serves 2 as a starter or a side dish

This dish originates from China and is called Bang Bang chicken because traditionally the cooked chicken breast was banged with a lump of wood to break it up (honestly). It’s a cold dish so if you make a bigger batch it is great as part of a buffet.

For the dressing…
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
A splash of toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
2 tsp light brown sugar
1 tsp dry sherry
400ml tin coconut milk

Heat the oil in a wok, add the chillies and stir. Add the ginger and stir. Add the sesame seeds and stir. Add the sesame oil and stir. Add the peanut butter and sugar and stir. Add the sherry and stir fry for approx 1 minute. Add enough coconut milk to give a loose dropping consistency, i.e. it should drop easily off a spoon without being too runny, a bit like thin ketchup. Turn off the heat and allow the dressing to cool in the wok.

For the finished dish…
2 handfuls of shredded iceberg lettuce
1 cooked chicken breast, shredded

Arrange the lettuce on a serving plate and place the chicken on top. Spoon the dressing over the chicken.

Chicken Provencal

Rosemary

Serves 2

Mougins, nestled in the hills above Cannes, first became noted for its art; Picasso being the most famous of its erstwhile residents. Nowadays Mougins is also famed for its fine restaurants. I have come across many versions of Chicken Provencal over the years but none so good as is served in one of my favourite restaurants in Mougins.   This is my version of it. It is easy and quick to prepare but because of the short cooking time, make sure you use only the very best quality chicken.

Don’t worry about the amount of rosemary – it is what makes this dish so special. Some people don’t like to eat whole rosemary leaves so if that’s you, strip the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and finely chop them almost to a powder before cooking.

4 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken thighs
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
6 shallots, peeled and halved
½ red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
½ green pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
½ yellow pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 long sprigs of fresh rosemary (each sprig 10cm (4 inches) long)
4 bay leaves
12 pitted green olives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g (14oz) tin of cherry tomatoes (preferably Mutti)

Heat the oil in a large thick based saucepan. Add the chicken and brown on both sides. Turn the heat down and continue to sauté gently until nearly cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm.

Add the red onions, shallots, peppers and garlic to the pan and stir-fry until starting to soften (approx. 4 minutes). Add the rosemary, bay leaves and olives, season with salt and pepper and continue to stir-fry for 3 minutes or until the onions and peppers start to colour.

Pour in the cherry tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes until the chicken is hot and cooked through.

I like to serve this dish with roasted potatoes and pan-fried courgettes.