Chicken and Butternut Squash Curry with Speedy Flatbreads (4 Portions)

My son, who is a student, introduced me to this recipe, so it is well and truly tested under ‘Uni’ conditions! The recipe is from Gordon Ramsay’s cookbook ‘Ramsay in 10; Delicious Recipes Made in a Flash‘, in which he claims all the recipes can be ready in 10 minutes! To be honest, I think that this recipe, due to the preparation of the vegetables, definitely pushes beyond those 10 minutes but it is still a very quick and easy recipe. It’s best to prepare all the ingredients first so that they can be cooked quickly! You will have four portions but they can be successfully frozen – just make sure they are fully defrosted before reheating.

½ Butternut squash, preferably the neck end, peeled

Vegetable oil for frying

2½ tablespoons garam marsala

1 large red onion, peeled

1 red chilli

2.5cm piece of ginger, peeled

400-500g chicken breasts

50g frozen peas

250ml coconut milk

240g tinned chopped tomatoes

2 tablespoons chicken or vegetable stock

30g fresh spinach leaves

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Firstly prepare your vegetables: Coarsely grate the squash, the onion and the ginger – keeping them all separate. Chop the chilli.
  2. Dice the chicken breast into small cubes
  3. Heat a high-sided frying pan over a medium-high heat, add a drizzle of oil then add the grated squash, season with salt then stir in the garam marsala. Cook for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add the grated onion, stir well and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  5. Add the chopped chilli and grated ginger, allow to cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Make a well in the middle of the pan and drizzle in a little more oil. Add the diced chicken, season with salt and toss to combine. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the peas and cook for a further minute.
  7. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk and stock, stir well and bring to the boil then allow to simmer for 4-5 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
  8. Stir in the spinach leaves and cook until they have wilted.
  9. Serve with rice and flatbreads (recipe below)

Speedy Flatbreads (with a Gluten-Free option) (Makes 2)

This is a fantastic recipe – a real revelation. These flatbreads are great as a side to a curry, but are equally good as a snack for lunch! They are super easy to make – the dough just needs 15 minutes to rest before cooking, so bear this in mind.

60g plain flour (gluten-free if required – I use Doves)

Pinch of salt

Glug of olive oil

60ml water (approx)

  1. Place the flour and salt in a bowl, add small glug of olive oil and then, stirring gradually enough water to form a dough (you probably won’t use all the water).
  2. Rest the dough for 15 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces, roll into small balls and then gently roll each ball out into thin flatbreads.
  4. Heat a frying pan over a high heat, sprinkle with salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Place each flatbread in the hot pan, one at a time, and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until slightly charred.

Vietnamese Lemon Grass and Chilli Chicken (2 Portions)

This is one of those recipes which is instantly comforting, it has the most wonderful combination of hot, sour, salty and sweet flavours. The fact that it is particularly quick and easy to cook makes it even more comforting. It’s best to marinate the chicken for at least 4 hours (or overnight) if possible, but in all honesty, even if you forget to marinate it, you will still have a lovely chicken dish with a great sweet and salty sauce. This recipe will give you two servings – supper for two nights! Simply serve with rice.

400g skinless boneless chicken thighs

2 lemon grass stalks

4 tablespoons fish sauce

2½ tablespoons caster sugar, to taste

2 red chillies, halved, deseeded and sliced

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons groundnut or sunflower oil

1 onion, halved and sliced thinly into half-moon shaped slices

125ml chicken stock

Juice of ½-1 lime, to taste

2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

  1. Trim any fat from the chicken thighs and cut the flesh into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Remove the coarse outer layers from the lemon grass, trim the top and base, and chop the rest as finely as you can. Put half of this into a bowl with the fish sauce, caster sugar, the garlic, half the chillies and the chopped chicken. Mix together and cover with cling film and leave in the fridge to marinate for 4 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
  3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok set over a medium heat. Add the chicken and cook it on all sides, browning it well. Add the onion, give it a good stir before adding the remaining chillies and lemongrass, stir fry until the onion starts to soften, being careful not to burn the chillies and lemongrass. Pour in the stock then reduce the heat, cover and allow the chicken to cook for about five minutes.
  4. Remove the lid, increase the heat and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced. You want the mixture to be wetter than a stir-fry but not too saucy. Add the lime juice, then check the seasoning for the sweet-sour balance – adding more sugar or lime to taste.
  5. Sprinkle with the chopped coriander leaves, serve with rice.

Tip: Thai Fish Sauce – this sauce has a pungent smell, rather like being in a bad fish market, but ignore the smell and try adding it to everyday dishes, you won’t be able to smell it once it’s added to other ingredients and it has a magic power of lifting dishes. It’s particularly good with egg dishes – omelettes and scrambled eggs. Also, strangely it is rather good added to ‘Baked Beans on Toast’. Go gently with it, add just a few drops, keep tasting until you reach the right balance.

Easy Baked Tarragon Chicken (Serves 1)

Tarragon is my all-time favourite herb, and the marriage between this herb and chicken is, in my opinion, heaven! This recipe is one that I have adapted for the MenuMistress@Uni page, it is an ideal way of cooking chicken for one person and is super tasty! Once the chicken is browned on the stove you just have to cook it in the oven for 30 minutes and then finish off the gravy – how easy it that?!…You can easily leave out the cream if you prefer a lighter sauce.

For the Chicken:

25g butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 chicken thighs

1 shallot or half an onion, finely sliced

60ml white wine

2 sprigs of tarragon

For the gravy:

Large knob of butter

Small handful of tarragon leaves and parsley, chopped

75ml double cream (optional)

  1. Melt the butter with the oil in a casserole dish, then brown the chicken on all sides.
  2. Add the onions, wine and tarragon to the dish, stir and bring to a gentle simmer, cover and place in a preheated oven, 210’c fan. Cook for 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
  3. Transfer the chicken pieces to a serving dish and set aside to rest.
  4. Meanwhile make the gravy. Put the pan of chicken juices on the hob, remove the tarragon sprigs, then stir in the butter and the chopped herbs, mixing well. Remove from the heat and, if using, stir in the double cream.
  5. To serve pour the gravy over the chicken pieces.

Chicken & Pea Traybake (Serves 1)

This is such an easy recipe as everything is cooked together in one pan. I found this recipe in Nigella Lawson’s ‘At My Table’ cookbook, a great book full of tasty recipes which are also very straight forward in that very special ‘Nigella’ way. The peas and leeks are cooked underneath the chicken thighs, so soak up all their delicious juices while the leeks become beautifully caramelised. You really do need the white wine here, although it’s only a couple of tablespoons; you can buy small bottles of wine and you will still have a full glass left to enjoy with your meal! The original recipe called for dill, however, I prefer tarragon but, of course, you could use dill if you prefer!

2 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in

200g frozen petit pois

100g leeks, cut into 3cm slices

1 fat clove garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons dry white wine

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

½ small bunch of tarragon, roughly chopped

  1. Place the peas in small roasting pan. Add the leeks, garlic, white wine, ½ tablespoon of olive oil, ½ teaspoon of salt and most of the tarragon. Mix everything together.
  2. Arrange the chicken thighs on top, skin side up, then drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with the salt.
  3. Roast in a preheated oven, 180’c fan, for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and give the peas a stir, so that any on top are mixed into the liquid and are not drying out too much. Don’t worry about the leeks, as you want the bits peeking out to caramelise.
  5. Put back in the oven for a further 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through with a golden and crisp skin.
  6. Scatter over the remaining tarragon and serve (steamed new potatoes are good with this!).

Chicken Escalopes & Lemon Sauce – ‘Pollo al Limone’ (Serves 1)

A classic Italian recipe. One of my staple dishes at home, as it is really easy to ‘whip’ up – perfect for Uni life. I often  serve it with plain white rice (I know, not very Italian!!), as it’s quick and simple to make – also I like the way it mops up the lemon sauce!

By marinating the escalopes in the lemon juice for 30 minutes before cooking it tenderises the meat, you will notice the difference, but if I’m in a hurry, I must admit that I often omit this part.

I normally cut the chicken breast into three or four pieces, lengthways, and then flatten them out into escalopes by covering them with clingfilm and hitting with the base of a saucepan – not the most elegant way but it works! Alternatively you could ask your butcher to do it for you. Because you are flattening out the breasts, I find that they go a long way, so you may find that you don’t use all the escalopes that you make from one breast, if not, you could freeze them for another day – defrost them naturally in the fridge. In this same recipe that I’ve posted on my main recipe page, I use half stock and half white wine, but to suit the student budget I have suggested you use all chicken stock, however if you do use wine you would find that the flavour of the sauce is a little more concentrated as the wine enhances the flavours.

*Watch the video here of how to make escalopes out of a chicken breast!

*To watch the video of this sauce being made click here!

1 chicken breast (see note above)

4 tablespoons of lemon juice, plus a little more to taste (about 1 lemon)

25g butter

180ml chicken stock (or 90ml white wine and 90ml chicken stock – see note above)

1 teaspoon softened butter

2 teaspoons flour (gluten free if required)

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped (optional)

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Cut the chicken breasts into 3 lengthways, cover these slices with clingfilm and flatten by hitting with the base of a heavy saucepan (see the video of me doing this here!).
  2. Sprinkle the escalopes with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and leave aside for 30 minutes. Then dry with a piece of kitchen roll and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the escalopes, fry on each side over a fairly high heat, until they are evenly browned. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
  4. Pour the remaining lemon juice and the stock into the pan and bring to the boil. Boil for about 3 minutes, until the liquid it reduced slightly.
  5. Meanwhile mix the softened butter with the flour to create a paste – a ‘Beurre Manié’.
  6. Add the butter paste (Beurre Manié) to the sauce, mixing well. It will thicken the sauce slightly. At this point check the seasoning, you may want to add a little more lemon juice, I sometimes add an extra knob of butter at this point – just go with your tastebuds!
  7. Return the escalopes to the pan to reheat (and sprinkle over the fresh parsley if using)
  8. Serve the escalopes with the sauce.

Pan-Fried Lemon & Thyme Chicken (Serves 1)

In my recipe on my main Menu Mistress recipe page I have suggested that you marinate these overnight or for a few hours, but I realise that student life may not allow this! So, even is you don’t marinate them, this recipe is worth doing as it will still be tasty and is super quick. Serve with my Homemade Oven Chips (recipe below)

2 boneless chicken thighs, skin on (or off is you prefer)

1 -2 tablespoons olive oil

chopped leaves from about 2 generous sprigs of thyme

sea salt and black pepper

juice of ½ lemon

lemon wedges to serve (from lemon above)

  1. Flatten out the chicken thighs and make some slits on them with a sharp knife. Rub with the olive oil and pat on the thyme leaves. If you have time leave them to marinate for a bit (in the fridge if for a longer period), they will be tastier if marinated but still good if not!
  2. Heat a frying pan until it is really hot. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and put on the pan, skin side down. Let it sizzle for about 2 minutes then lower the temperature and continue to cook until the thighs are cooked through – turning half way through, so that both sides are well browned.
  3. Pour over the lemon juice and serve immediately with homemade chips (recipe here) and perhaps a bit of salad.