Chicken

Chicken Breasts with Cucumber, Dill and Mustard (Serves 4)

I must admit that I had not come across cucumber cooked in a sauce before finding this recipe in a magazine, but it was a revelation, you must try it! It really adds a special dimension to a simple chicken breast recipe. I like to serve it with simple, fine green beans and with ‘Concetta’s Potatoes’, these are named after our Italian friend (and chef), who gave me the recipe many years ago; they are sliced baked potatoes with garlic, rosemary and sage, alternatively steamed new potatoes go very well with this dish.

40g unsalted butter

4 skinless chicken breasts

1 teaspoon flour (use gluten free flour if required)

100ml dry, white vermouth

600ml chicken stock

1 cucumber

175g créme fraiche

2 teaspoons grain mustard

Juice of half a lemon

A small bunch dill, chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Melt 25g of butter in a frying pan. Lightly brown the chicken breasts, season and sprinkle over the flour, cook for a minute and then add the vermouth, reduce by two-thirds.
  2. Add the stock, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to simmer gently. Cover and cook for about 30-40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through
  3. Whilst the chicken is cooking, peel the cucumber, cut it in half and deseed, then cut into slices the thickness of a pound coin.
  4. Fry the cucumber slices in the remaining butter. Cook quickly until they are just tender – not floppy – and tinged with gold in places. Remove to a plate.
  5. Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the pan, keep warm. Boil the remaining liquid until it is reduced by half and starting to look slightly syrupy. Add the crème fraiche, mustard and half the lemon juice. Cook until the sauce has thickened to the consistency of single cream.
  6. Return the chicken to the pan along with the cucumber and the chopped dill. Taste to adjust the seasoning – perhaps a dash more of lemon juice or mustard.
  7. Serve with ‘Concetta’s potatoes’ or steamed new potatoes and green fine beans.

Spatchcock Chicken with Rosemary, Garlic and Chilli (Serves 4-6)

Spatchcock Chicken is a great way to roast a chicken – it enables the chicken to cook quicker and is a lot easier to carve. The rosemary, garlic and chilli oil in this recipe, is a particular favourite of mine, it is a tasty and very simple way of seasoning the chicken. A great accompaniment to this chicken is the Cantaloupe, Artichoke and Walnut Salad which you can find on my Recipe Pages. If  you get your chicken from your butcher, ask him to spatchcock it for you, alternatively it is very easy to do yourself…

How to Spatchcock a Chicken:

On the backside of the chicken use a pair of strong kitchen scissors to cut along either side of the back bone to remove it, then flip it over and press down very firmly on the breast bones, it will give a satisfying crack as it flattens! Some people like to insert skewers to help keep the chicken flat during cooking but in my experience they make no difference, so I prefer not to use them as they make it more difficult to carve the bird.

Click here to watch the video on me spatchcocking a chicken on my Instagram Page!

1 x 1.8 – 2.25kg chicken

1 teaspoon of sea salt flakes

For the marinade:

1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary (about 3 sprigs)

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (about 20 grinds of a pepper grinder)

½ teaspoon chilli flakes

Juice of half a lemon

4 tablespoons olive oil

  1. Firstly make the marinade by combining all the ingredients together.
  2. Cover the chicken all over with the marinade – I use a brush to do this.
  3. Place it breast side up, flattened out, in a roasting tin. Sprinkle over with the sea salt flakes.
  4. Place in a preheated oven 180’c for 45-50 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken.

Tarragon Chicken Pie (Serves 4)

This is an absolute favourite in our house and one which Felix insists that I cook when he is back from university! It is a recipe that I picked up from a magazine years ago and have tweaked over the years.

I’m gluten free, so unfortunately these days I can’t eat the pastry, but the filling is a treat in itself. I usually serve this with buttered new potatoes. I use ‘Jus Rol, Ready Rolled Puff Pastry’, they have started to make a gluten free puff pastry, I haven’t tried it, but I have heard mixed reviews and so for the moment I will continue to be an unselfish ‘head cook’ and stick to the normal pastry that both Nick and Felix love! I prefer to use fresh chicken stock, but you could use a stock cube.

320g pack of ready rolled puff pastry (see note above)

1 tablespoon olive oil

15g butter

3 spring onions, chopped

1 shallot, chopped

75g diced pancetta

500g chicken breast, cut into bite size cubes

225ml chicken stock (see note above)

250g frozen peas

8-10 sprigs of tarragon

3 slices of Prosciutto ham, each slice rolled and cut in to 2cm pieces/ribbons

2 tablespoons of double cream

Sea salt and black pepper

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon of milk (for a glaze)

  1. First of all, take the pastry out of the fridge as it needs at least 20 minutes to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven 200’c.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan, add the spring onions, shallots and pancetta, fry for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper and fry for another 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in the chicken stock and peas, bring to a simmer, and add the chopped leaves of 6-7 of the sprigs of tarragon. Cook for 5 minutes until the peas are tender.
  5. Stir in the prosciutto and the cream, pour into a pie dish. Sprinkle over the chopped leaves of the remaining tarragon.
  6. For the pastry top, gently lay out the pastry. Cut it into a circular shape to top the pie dish. I find that by cutting strips of the remaining pastry, pressing them around the rim of the pie dish and then topping with the pastry top, helps the pastry rise – see photo. I also cut out a few leaves for decoration, but obviously this doesn’t effect the flavour so if you’re in a hurry I’d leave this out! Lightly score the pastry with a criss-cross pattern to help it rise and make sure you cut out a deep cross in the centre to allow the steam to escape during cooking. Brush over with the egg and milk glaze.
  7. Place in the preheated oven, bake for 25-30 minutes.
  8. Serve with new potatoes.

Chargrilled Lemon & Thyme Chicken (Serves 4)

It is important to marinate the chicken before cooking it as it really does improve the flavour – overnight would be the best option. I prefer to cook the chicken on a griddle pan as it gives a lovely crispy, chargrill effect however if you don’t have one, a regular frying pan works. I would serve this dish with baby roast potatoes and a salad with a lemon dressing – you can find these recipes on my Recipes Pages. On the day you’re eating it, start by cooking the baby roast potatoes and preparing the salad/dressing, then 10-15 minutes before the potatoes are ready, cook the meat. This recipe is from Diana Henry’s ‘ Pure, Simple Cooking’.

8 boneless chicken thighs, skin on (if you buy from a butcher ask him to bone them for you)

60ml olive oil

chopped leaves from about 10 generous sprigs of thyme

sea salt and black pepper

juice of 1 lemon

lemon wedges to serve

  1. Flatten out the chicken thighs and make some slits on them. Rub with the olive oil and pat on the thyme leaves. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight or for a couple of hours.
  2. Heat a griddle pan (or a frying pan) until it is really hot. Season the chicken 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 the baby roast potatoes and the green salad dressed with the lemon vinaigrette.

Lemon and Chilli Chicken (Serves 4)

Lemon and Chilli Chicken

This is a recipe that I came across years ago in a magazine, despite having chilli in it, it is not a spicy dish, as there is also honey in the marinade; I use orange blossom honey as it is a delicate floral flavour, great for a summer dish, but you could use any runny honey. The key to this dish is remembering to marinate it 24hours beforehand as it really makes a difference, other than that this dish sorts itself out  – just pop it in the oven and serve with a large salad (and if you are really hungry some potatoes or rice).

8 chicken thighs

4 lemons

12 unskinned garlic cloves

2 small red chillies, seeded and chopped

3 tablespoons of orange blossom honey (see note above)

4 tablespoons of chopped parsley

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Halve the lemons and squeeze out the juice, reserving the squeezed lemon halves.
  2. Skin and crush two of the garlic cloves, mix them with the lemon juice, chillies, the honey and seasoning. Stir well and pour over the chicken, pack the lemon halves around the chicken. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight (see note above), turning once or twice.
  3. When you are ready to cook the chicken, turn the chicken pieces skin side up and scatter over the remaining garlic cloves(unskinned), keep the lemons packed around the chicken pieces.
  4. Place in a preheated oven 200’c, for about 45mins until cooked through and well browned.
  5. Scatter over the parsley; serve with the lovely pan juices and the garlic cloves which will now be beautifully soft, ready to be popped out of their skins! (you can use the lemon halves for decoration).