Tag Archive for Chicken

Roast Chicken

Nothing beats a roast chicken for sunday dinner. It is easy, delicious and has lots of variations. The problem with roasting a whole chicken is that the breast cooks faster than the legs, causing either dry breast (when cooking the legs to perfection) or raw legs (when cooking the breast to perfection). That is why we usually buy a small roasting chicken (about 1,2 kg). Because they are slaughtered quite young, there is less difference between the meat from the breast and from the legs, bringing the cooking times closer to each other. Also, because the bird is smaller, it roasts more even than the larger ones. I find that this eliminates the breast-leg problem almost completely.
I never rub my chicken with oil or butter before cooking, as most recipes ask you to do. I find that the chicken skin is fatty enough on its own, it doesn’t need extra fat. And it crisps up beautifully, even better than when you slather it with fat. The same with stuffing the cavity with lemon and herbs, I don’t think the flavour comes through in the meat. I just rub the chicken with salt and a herb or spice of choice (lots of variations possible), which makes it a lot faster to prepare the chicken as well. I usually use curry powder as a spice, but the chicken on the photo below is rubbed with barbecue seasoning. You could also use garam masala, ras el hanout or something like Italian herbs, basically anything you fancy. The spices pigment some parts of the skin more than others, giving the skin a patchy appearance; this is completely normal.
A small chicken will serve 2 people very generously (you don’t need much of a side dish in that case, just a little rice and a salad), but alternatively you could also keep some leftovers for lunch the next day (delicious on a sandwich or in a salad) and bulk up the meal with a side dish. With a side dish you could also serve 4 people from the chicken (no leftovers in that case). An nice and easy side dish can be made by adding baby potatoes and veggies (onion, paprika, courgette, mushroom, garlic, etc) to the roasting tray (drizzle with a little oil), they will cook in the same time as the chicken, making it a delicious one pot meal.

Roast Chicken

Roast chicken (serves 2-4 people)

1 small roasting chicken (about 1,2 kg)

Preheat the oven to 200C. Take the chicken from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
Place the chicken in the roasting tray. Sprinkle salt and herbs/spices on it, and use your hands to rub it in and spread it out all over the chicken.
Place the chicken in the oven, roast for about 1 hour.
Take from the oven and leave to rest for about 10 minutes. Don’t cover it! Otherwise you will ruin the crispy skin.
Carve and serve immediately. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Paella Valenciana

Paella Valenciana is a classic Spanish dish. In Valencia they have lots of rice dishes, but this is the most famous one. Most people think of seafood when they think about paella, but this is a so called land-paella, which contains chicken and rabbit as a protein source. In the Netherlands rabbit, especially tasty rabbit, is quite difficult to get hold of, therefore I used only chicken. Real paella rice is also difficult to get hold of in the Netherlands, so I used risotto rice (arborio), which works fine. Officially, the artichokes don’t belong in there, but the paella I ate in Spain had them, and I liked that a lot, so I added them in this recipe too. I used canned marinated artichoke hearts for ease (they are cooked already, so you drain them and add them to the dish), but you can also use frozen (not available around here) or not-marinated canned (the ones over here are very acidic and not properly cooked, that is why I use the marinated ones).
Paella is a dry dish made in a shallow, wide pan over wood fire. Ideally, after the rice is added, it shouldn’t be stirred any more. This results in quite a dry dish (not wet like risotto!), with a golden crust on the bottom. I don’t own a special paella pan, but using a large skillet instead works fine. Unfortunately, mastering the art of making paella without stirring is quite difficult, and tends to end up in having a black crust on the bottom, effectively ruining your paella. That is why I advice to stir regularly, especially at the end of cooking time, when the dish starts to be quite dry, making it prone to sticking. To make the dish real authentic, cook the rice al punto (like the Italian al dente). Enjoy!

Paella Valenciana (serves 6)
Adapted from Koken met nrc.next

500 g chicken (preferably with bone, in 6 pieces)
500 g rabbit (preferably with bone, in 6 pieces)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 fat cloves of garlic, sliced
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp pimentón de la Vera dulce
200 g broad beans
400 g runner beans, in bits of 4 cm
200 g artichoke hearts
1,4 l hot chicken stock
1 pinch saffron (about 20 threads), soaked in 2 tbsp hot water
400 g paella rice
salt and pepper

Sprinkle chicken and rabbit with salt. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Fry the meat in about 7 minutes brown on all sides.
Turn the heat down and add the garlic, tomatoes and pimenton. Fry while stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the broad beans, runner beans and artichoke hearts. Pour the stock into the pan, bring to the boil and leave to bubble for 10 minutes (without lid).
Add the saffron water. Sprinkle the rice into the pan and stir so that it is distributed evenly around the meat and vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil again and leave to cook for another 10 minutes (without lid). Turn the heat down and let cook for another 8 minutes. When it really gets too dry, add a splash of water. Take from the heat and cover with a clean tea towel, leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Chicken ragout

I love to make bouillon in weekends or holidays. The long, slow process has something relaxing, and as a bonus you end up with a lovely smelling house and a delicious meal. Because were only with 2 at home, I either have to make several things with the bouillon, or I have to freeze some. This time I used part of it for a lovely chicken soup, and part of it for a ragout. I don’t think there are many people making this at home, because you can buy tins of it in the Netherlands, but it is delicious to make it yourself and fun as well. This time I served it in vol-au-vents (shopbought) but it is also delicious served over rice.

Important for a good bouillon is a good, flavoursome chicken. In the past I used to use chicken legs from the supermarket or the market, but those are from young chickens, so they don’t have a strong flavour. Buying a real soup chicken, which is old, tough and not suitable for anything other than cooking it for a long time to make bouillon, gives you a bouillon with lots and lots more flavour. It’s worth it to look for it, but shop around for it a bit, because at some spots soup chickens are extremely expensive, and at some places they are insanely cheap.

Chicken bouillon, soup and ragout (serves 2 people twice)

1 small soup chicken
1 large onion, peeled and chopped in large chunks
1 leek, cleaned and chopped in large chunks
1 medium carrot, washed and chopped in large chunks
3 ribs celery, washed and chopped in large chunks
2 bay leaves
12 pepper corns, crushed
piece of mace
1 clove
few sprigs of thyme
few sprigs of parsley
2 tsp salt (this is not enough, but you can always add more later in the process)

1/2 of the meat from the chicken
300 g soup vegetables

4 vol-au-vents
1/2 of the meat from the chicken
60 g butter
50 g flour
250 ml bouillon
250 ml white wine (can be substituted by more bouillon)
50 ml cream
salt and pepper
lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped herbs (like parsley, chives, chervil)

Place all the ingredients for the bouillon in a large pan and cover with 2 liter cold water. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer for a few hours.
Take out the chicken and set aside. Pour the bouillon through a sieve into another pan, press the liquid from the vegetables (not too much, that will cloud the bouillon), then throw away. I usually boil down the bouillon a little further to intensify the flavour.
Take a clean tea towel and rinse under cold water. Wring out and use it to line a sieve. Pour the bouillon through the towel and sieve into another pan. This will filter out the fine sediment and most of the fat. The bouillon is now ready to use.

Set aside the amount of bouillon you need for the ragout and use the rest for the bouillon.

Peel the skin from the chicken and discard. Pick all the flesh from the chicken and discard the bones, sinewy bits and other bits that are not nice to eat. Shred or slice the meat into chunks, mix up the dark and the light meat and divide in two.

For the soup, bring the bouillon to the boil, add the vegetables and cook for a few minutes (until tender but still slightly crisp). Season with salt to taste. Add the chicken and cook for another minute to heat through. Serve hot.

For the ragout, prepare the vol-au-vents according to package instructions. Melt the butter in a non-stick pan and add the flour. Stir well. Cook on low heat while stirring for a few minutes. Gradually add the stock and wine, while stirring to prevent lumps. Cook to heat through and thicken for a few minutes. Add the cream, stir well. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste and the green herbs. Add the chicken and cook for another minute to heat through. Serve immediately with the vol-au-vents.

Chicken Passanda

A very mild and creamy curry, delicately spiced, very delicious and easy to make. Serve with rice, naan or chapatis, and raita or kachumbar.

Chicken Passanda

Chicken Passanda (serves 4)
Slightly adapted from Rick Stein’s India

3 tbsp ghee (replace with butter, coconut oil or vegetable oil if you don’t have it available)
5 cm piece of cinnamon stick
2 green cardamom pods, lightly bruised
1 small onion, finely chopped
15 g ginger, finely grated
15 garlic, finely grated
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 Kashmiri chilli powder (this is a mild kind of chilli powder, if you don’t have it, use another mild chilli powder or omit it)
4 small chicken breast, without skin, cut in half (or use larger breasts and cut in large chunks)
200 g full fat Greek/Greek-style yoghurt
2 tbsp ground almond
1/2 tsp salt
100 ml water
2 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted, to serve

Heat the ghee in a pan on medium heat. Add the cinnamon and cardamom, fry for 30 seconds, then add the onion and fry until soft and golden (about 10 minutes). Add the ginger and garlic and fry for 3 minutes, then add the ground coriander, turmeric and chilli powder (if using) and fry for 30 seconds (this mixture is prone to burning!).
Add the chicken and stir well, then add the yoghurt, ground almonds, salt and water. Simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until the sauce is reduced and thick and clings to the chicken. Sprinkle the flaked almonds on top and serve immediately.

Potato salad with chicken and celery

A lighter, but still delicious alternative for potato salad with bacon and egg. Perfect as side dish for a BBQ, delicious at picnics and potlucks, but also perfect as a complete meal or for lunch.

Potato salad with chicken and celery (serves 2, or 4-6 as a side)

1 chicken breast
500 g small potatoes, cut in halve (cut larger ones in chuncks)
3 large gherkins, in cubes
2 sticks of celery, in cubes
1 apple, in cubes
4 tbsp mayonnaise
salt and pepper
1 tbsp gherkin juice (coming from the gherkin jar)
1/2-1 tsp mustard (amount depends on how strong your mustard is)

Poach or grill the chicken breast. Cut into cubes.
Place the potatoes in a pan, cover with water, season with some salt. Bring to the boil and cook until tender (check by pricking a potato with a pointy knife: if there is resistance, the potatoes are not cooked; if it slides in they are cooked).
Make the sauce by combining the mayonnaise, gherkin juice and mustard. Season strongly with salt and pepper, as all the ingredients in the salad will have only a thin coating of this dressing.
Mix the chicken, potatoes, gherkins, celery, apple and sauce carefully. Because the potatoes are still a little warm, they will soak up some of the sauce and will give the salad a lukewarm serving temperature. Some people like the salad fridge-cold, but this will go at the cost of taste.

Dry rub bbq oven chicken

I love succulent, spicy chicken, especially when it is barbecued. Unfortunately, because I live in a flat I can’t have a real barbecue. I tried to make bbq chicken in the oven and on the stove, but always with the same problem: the wet marinade/sauce either doesn’t get sticky or it burns. Also, it is quite difficult to get the chicken on the bone cooked, but not dry. Until I found this recipe, which gave me perfect results. The smokiness of the smoked paprika gives the chicken a barbecue taste, while you can prepare it in the oven. The dry rub doesn’t burn, the sauce made with the roasting juices gives them a lovely stickiness and because you bake the chicken wrapped and on quite a low heat, it stays lovely and moist, and the brining step makes the chicken even more moist. I like the spicy rub as it is, but I will play around with other spices and herbs in it as well for variation. The recipe is easy to make and gives great results, so give it a try yourself.

The chicken is great on its own, but would also be lovely with typical bbq side dishes like potato salad, cole slaw and roasted corn on the cob. Or you could make chicken wings like this (they will probably not as long as drumsticks and thighs, but the core temp should be at least 70C) and serve them at a party with a dipping sauce.

Dry Rub BBQ Oven Chicken

Dry rub bbq oven chicken (serves 2 greedy people, or 4 with addition of some side dishes)
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

6-8 drumsticks or chicken thighs, 4 chicken legs or a small chicken divided in 8 pieces

2 cups water
1/6 cup salt
1/6 cup sugar
1/6 cup white vinegar

3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder (if you have mild chili powder, add more… ours is very, very hot)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
a few pinches ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

A generous squeeze of honey
1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Start by brining the chicken. Mix water, salt, sugar and vinegar in a large bowl. It is hard to dissolve the salt and sugar in the cold water, so heat up 1/2 a cup of water, dissolve the salt and sugar, and add the vinegar and the rest of the water (cold). Add the chicken (directly from the fridge), cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Because you only heat a little bit of the water, you have cold chicken and you place everything in the fridge as fast as possible, bacteria don’t get a chance because of the warm water. Also, bacteria don’t like this much salt very much. Leave the chicken to brine for at least 1 hour, but up to 6 hours, in the fridge.
For the dry rub mix together the brown sugar, smoked paprika, sweet paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, ground cumin, ground nutmeg, salt and ground black pepper in a small bowl and set aside. Place a baking rack on top of a baking sheet. Place a large piece of aluminum foil (large enough to contain all the chicken and form into packets) on top. Alternatively use the rack (placed in the middle of the oven) and baking sheet (placed one rim below the rack in the oven) of your oven. Heat the oven to 150C.
Drain the brine from the chicken, making sure to let the chicken leak out well. You can pat the chicken dry with paper kitchen towel or a clean tea towel, but I couldn’t be bothered, as a slight bit of extra moisture is not a big problem. Place the chicken pieces on top of the prepared foil. Sprinkle over the rub and pat it into the chicken. Try to spread it evenly all over the chicken pieces to ensure an even crust (mine wasn’t very even, so at some spots there were a lot of spices, and at some spots barely any). Fold the foil around them and close the package well. Place in the oven and bake 2 hours.
Carefully open the packet and pour out the juices into a sauce pan. Heat the broiler/grill and place the open foil packet under it (make sure you spread out the chicken a little to make sure all the pieces get nice ans crisp) until the chicken is crisped to your liking. Take care, the chicken is already cooked, so if you grill it overly long it will get dry.
Take the sauce pan and boil over high heat to reduce the juices until it makes a syruppy sauce. Add the honey and apple cider vinegar at the end. Serve with the chicken.

Picnic Loaf

A picnic loaf was featured on the BBC bread baking programme of Paul Hollywood, and shortly after that James Martin also prepared a picnic loaf in Saturday Kitchen (also a BBC tv programme). Both looked very delicious, but it took me quite a while to make one for myself. It is a variation on pan bagna, a speciality from Nice (France), where they fill bread with a nicoise salad (tomato, onion, anchovies, boiled eggs, olives, paprika, tuna, artichoke hearts and olive oil). But where the vegetables are raw in a pan bagna, they are grilled in this recipe, which gives the bread extra flavour and a really nice texture. If you’re not a fan of chicken, you could use canned tuna instead.

The bread can serve up to 8 people as lunch, especially if you also serve some other dishes. Because the bread is very sturdy (you pack it full with all the ingredients and then wrap it tightly with cling film) and can be made a day in advance, it is also great for picnics… hence the name. But it is also delicious as dinner, accompany the bread with a salad and it will serve 4 generously.

Of course you will have a lot of bread crumbs left after hollowing out the bread. A great way to use this is frying it in some butter, combining it with roasted and coarsely chopped hazelnuts and then sprinkling it over a salad. Add a slice of pate and you have a light and delicious summer meal.

Picnic Bread

Picnic Loaf (serves 4-8)
Slightly adapted from James Martin in Saturday Kitchen

For the pesto
60 g basil leaves
50 g pine nuts
50 g parmesan
3 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
75-125 ml extra virgin olive oil

For the loaf
2 red paprikas
2 yellow paprikas
2 courgettes
1-2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 large red onion
2 chicken breasts
2 balls buffalo mozzarella
1 beef tomato
1 large round loaf (23cm)

Note: to make a small version as on the photo, use half of all the ingredients. It will fill 2 Italian buns and will leave you with some extra vegetables on the side. This will feed two persons very generously.

Slice the paprikas in two, place skin side up in an oven dish and place under a very hot oven grill until the skin is blackened and the flesh is soft. Cover and set aside.
Slice the courgettes in long, thin strips. Place in an oven dish, brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut the red onion in chunks, place in an oven dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper (alternatively you can slice the onion thinly and leave it raw). Place the courgette and onion in the hot oven until nicely cooked/grilled.
Heat a skillet on high heat. Place the chicken breasts in the hot pan, leave on one side until golden, then turn over and leave until the other side is golden as well. Turn the heat down, place a lid on the skillet and leave until cooked. Set aside for a few minutes to rest, then cut into thin slices and season with salt and pepper.
Cut the mozzarella in thick slices and tomato in thin slices.
Make the pesto. Some people just throw all ingredients in the food processor and then gradually add oil, but I like to do it in an pestle and mortar. Start by roasting the pine nuts, I like them quite brown to give the pesto an extra nutty flavour, but make sure you roast them on medium low heat, toss them regularly and keep an eye on them: pine nuts burn in seconds, which makes them black and inedible. Meanwhile (while keeping an eye on the pine nuts!) peel the garlic, place in the mortar and pestle, add the sea salt and crush until it is a fine paste. Add the roasted pine nuts (while they are still hot, this will take the harshness of the garlic) and crush until it is a fine paste. Add the basil leaves and crush again. Then grate in the parmesan cheese and mix well. Add the oil in a thin stream while mixing, add enough to thin the pesto to a medium paste. Taste: sometimes it needs a little more salt, basil, cheese or oil.
Slice off the top of the loaf of bread. Hollow out the loaf by scooping out the soft bread, leaving 3cm of bread around the edge. Smear pesto all over the inside. Fill the hollow loaf with layers of the peppers, chicken, red onion, courgettes, mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto, pressing it down in between to fill the bread as full as possible. Place the lid of the loaf back on and push down, you can wrap it in cling film and leave overnight or slice straight away. To serve, slice the loaf and place on serving plates.

Rice salad

An easy and light summer salad, with lots of possible variations. The actual making of the salad is very simple: cook the rice (I prefer to use the absorption method), cook the protein (if necessary), dice the vegetables and mix everything together.
I used cubes of grilled chicken breast as the protein for the rice salad, but it is also very tasty with smoked mackerel, or try feta/fresh goat cheese or a cooked/fried/poached egg for a vegetarian variant.
I like to use raw carrot, cucumber and spring onions as the vegetables, but you can also add cubes of courgette, paprika, radish or whatever vegetable you like.
By cooking the rice in bouillon the salad already has a lot of flavour and doesn’t need an additional dressing. I used basmati rice, but this would also work great with brown rice, or even couscous, quinoa or pearl barley.
A few roasted nuts (for example cashew or pine nuts), some dried fruit (for example raisins or cranberries) or some chopped up soft herbs (for example parsley or chives) would also be great additions.
You can find the recipe for the spinach salad with blue cheese dressing that is also on the plate in my previous blog post.

Rice salad

Cobb salad

My alternative cobb salad. I don’t think blue cheese works with all the other ingredients, so I didn’t use that. Also, I do like grilled paprika and cucumber, so I added those to the salad. And originally the salad is made with a mixture of iceberg lettuce, romaine and water cress, but I used only one lettuce, to prevent lots of leftovers. The classic way of presenting a cobb salad is using the lettuce as a bed, then arranging the other ingredients in neat rows on top and then pour the dressing over everything. I like the neat rows a lot, it is an easy way to present the dish very pretty, but I only dressed the lettuce and served that on the side. Some people just mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, which is a lot faster but less pretty. For me this is enough for a main, serve some bread with it for larger eaters, or serve it as a side salad.

Cobb Salad

Cobb salad (2 servings)

Lettuce of choice
6 slices of bacon, fried until crisp, sliced in strips
3 eggs, cooked, quartered
250 g cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cucumber, sliced then quartered
1 chicken or turkey breast, grilled and seasoned, sliced
1 avocado, cleaned, in slices
1 paprika, grilled, in strips

3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper
Note: this dressing recipe makes a lot! Use the remainder for another day, or halve the recipe.

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

It may seem a little crazy to add this much garlic to a dish, but actually it works very well. Because it is stewed for quite some time the taste of the garlic becomes deliciously sweet and mild, it also helps to tenderize the chicken, so you end up with the most tasty succulent chicken, and it also makes the sauce even more tasty than it already was. But beware, if you don’t like garlic, don’t make this, as it is still a very garliccy dish.
The original recipe suggest to serve this with both mashed potatoes and bread, but I think that is complete overkill. It already is quite a rich dish, so two carbs is definitely too much. Keep the mash for a dish with lighter sides, and only serve with bread. Or do as I do and serve with some rice, which also works perfectly to soak up the sauce and garlic. The original recipe also suggests to add some small shallots, but I think those make the sauce too sweet. I prefer to serve a fresh salad on the side.

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic (serves 4)
Adapted from the Hairy Bikers

1.35 kg oven-ready fresh chicken
1/2 lemon
2 bay leafs
few sprigs of thyme
25 g butter
1 tbsp sunflower oil
40 garlic cloves (from 2-3 bulbs), unpeeled
150 ml white wine
250 ml chicken stock (made with 1 stock cube)
100 ml (double) cream or crème fraîche
flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Remove any string from the chicken and place the lemon, a sprig of thyme and 1 bay leaf inside the cavity. Generously season the chicken inside and out with plenty of flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Melt the butter with the oil in a large flameproof casserole. Brown the chicken over a medium-high heat for a couple of minutes on each side.
Add the whole garlic cloves and shallots to the casserole, nestling around the chicken. Pour over the white wine and chicken stock. Add the other bay leaf and sprigs of thyme. Cover the casserole with a tight-fitting lid and bring the liquid to a simmer on the hob, then transfer to the oven for 1 1/4 hours, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the garlic is completely softened. Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover with a piece of foil. Transfer the garlic to another plate and squeeze the garlic out of its skin into a bowl. Return the casserole to the hob, when the sauce is very thin cook it on high heat for a few minutes to reduce the liquid, then stir in the cream (or crème fraîche). Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring. Cook for three minutes. Season to taste and pour into a jug.
Carve the chicken into chunky pieces and serve with the sauce and garlic. Eat with rice or bread and a fresh salad.