Tag Archives: chicken

An Easter Chicken

21 Apr
Easter chookie chook

Easter chookie chook

 

I’ve always rather liked Easter. I’m not religious, although I flirted with some happy clappy Christianity in my teens. I think I was more interested in the group of people who were mostly stranger than me than I was in the actual theology. But somehow, I’ve always liked the Easter break. I suspect it’s Spring that I like. And an unexpected long weekend. With Easter zipping about the year, depending what the moon is up to, it always seems to catch me unawares, so suddenly I’m faced with a long weekend. And the prospect of going to Galloway to see my parents. And sunshine. And lambs, and bright lime green leaves shining in the sun, proving that nature rocks.

Last year my chickens laid lots of eggs for Easter. Good chickens. This year the haul wasn’t so good. First of all one of my chickens died a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully it was while I was away so I didn’t have to deal with her wee dead body myself – I’m not very good with dead things. And then two of my reliable wee broon hens started moulting so they aren’t doing much in the way of laying. And then Mabel, big blousy Mabel, got broody again. So all she does is sit fatly in her stall, thinking (presumably) that if she stays there for a long enough an egg will miraculously appear, closely followed by a scritch and a scratch and the arrival out of said egg of a cute wee chicken. This seems highly unlikely given Mabel’s form (and more importantly the fact we have no cockerel).

So, the eggs we have are big and yolky and delicious, but there aren’t so many of them these days.

Never mind. When you give eggs to your father at Easter time it seems appropriate that they come with their own hand-knitted egg cosy. You know, just in case they get cold on the journey. So, I knitted Dad a chicken. I rather like her and may make some more. I also might tell you all how if you’re really interested (so do leave a message if you want to know how easy peasy this is to do… or even if you want me to make one for you one day… but you don’t get to choose which day, it would have to be a surprise, when the chookie muse takes me).

 

I need to talk about chickens

2 Dec

So, a few things have changed in my life recently.

I left my flat in the city and moved in with my boyfriend, The Captain. We live in the country, a mile or two away from the nearest town and surrounded by fields. The bottom of the garden leads to a lovely wooded hillside, and if you walk down through the trees you reach the River Clyde. It’s a beautiful part of the world.

That was number one change.

Then I got a new job. I had the interview and was offered the job a few days before I moved house, so it was a pretty hectic few days. And for the first time in my life I decided to do the grown up thing and take a week off between jobs. I’m so glad I did it.

I’d sort of thought I might get some unpacking done that week, but it appears that if it’s not essential, it stays in an unmarked box in the cupboard under the stairs, behind many other unmarked boxes. We’re now nearly three months on and I’ve still got a big pile of boxes to deal with – but of course nowhere to put all the things inside the boxes, so perhaps it’s easier if they all just stay where they are. I’d really like to find my circular knitting needles though, and be able to reach my vases again, but these things can probably wait.

So, the week off. Instead of unpacking boxes we built a chicken run. And then got chickens. Three gorgeous wee broon hens. They are Lohmann Browns, a hybrid breed, bred especially to give high egg-laying yield (around 300 eggs a year is possible from one chicken). What I didn’t know when I got the wee girls is that they are the easiest creatures to keep, and that these three ladies would have such friendly personalities.

What I’ve discovered about keeping chickens in the last 6 weeks:

  1. They each have their own unique personalities
  2. I feel a bit squirk when I get an egg straight out of the chicken, still warm and then cook it and eat it
  3. I’m no longer sure that I could eat my chickens once they’ve stopped laying
  4. Chicken will come running to you when they are called
  5. Chickens LOVE sweetcorn
  6. Dogs and cats and chickens can live in harmony after a few days of anxiety
  7. Moby our jack russel wants to be a chicken
  8. The chickens don’t want Moby to be a chicken
  9. A free range chicken is a happy chicken
  10. Eggs from your own happy chickens really do taste better
  11. Poaching a REALLY fresh egg is so much easier than one even a week old (and I suspect most shop bought eggs are at least a week old)

So, now for some pictures of my girls. Next time I’ll give you my quick no fail method of poaching an egg.

Chickens on a mission

Chickens on a mission

Hector thinks someone might have a treat for her

Hector thinks someone might have a treat for her

Tommy doesn't lay eggs. She just chooks about and annoys Hector and Achilles

Tommy doesn’t lay eggs. She just chooks about and annoys Hector and Achilles

4 ordinary eggs and the FrankenEgg (it was a lovely double yolker)

4 ordinary eggs and the FrankenEgg (it was a lovely double yolker)

My girls, chooking about like chickens do

My girls, chooking about like chickens do

 

Autumn days

22 Oct

Yesterday was a beautiful autumnal day today. The sun shone all day long, and my wee chickens scrubbled about out in their yard chuntering away to one another. I discovered that my few remaining plants in the greenhouse were all beginning to get covered and smothered in greenfly, so I took a couple of pots of greenfly-ridden chilli plants out to the chooks for them to nibble at. Minutes later the leaves were stripped off and gobbled up by my happy girls.

So, with chooks happy in the garden, it seemed like a good day to spend in the kitchen, preparing this and that to make the meals easier through the week when I get home from work each night.

So meatballs are cooked and in the freezer, with a tomatoey sauce in a separate pot.

making meatballs

shaping meatballs

There’s a big old pot of lentil soup for lunches, made with a smoked ham hock and a wee smidgin of curry spices.

There is of course a lovely sourdough loaf (wholemeal) and the bread machine also made a half and half (granary/white) loaf. The meat from the ham hock has been cut up into wee cubes to be added to a frittata or omelette later in the week.

I made a big tub of granola with nuts and oats and fruit – mixed with apple juice, a wee bit of syrup and some ginger and cinnamon.

In between times I made some delicious cinnamon squirlies. I blame delicious magazine – they featured them on their facebook page and I just caved and had to make them. They were totally worth it, really easy to make and absolutely scrumptious, especially warm with icecream.

cinnamon squirlie dough

cinnamon squirlies – just pull apart and eat

And as if that wasn’t enough, I had already decided that for supper we were having roast pork with all the trimmings. The trimmings on this occasion included roasted apples, curly kale, a beetroot and potato gratin and roasted beetroots and caramelised onions, all brought together with a jus made with juices from the roast pork dish and apple juice reduced down till it was concentrated flavoursome perfection.

Autumnal roast pork

I don’t cook roasts too often, but after this success I may do it more often. And there were delicious leftovers for through the week: we’ll have sliced pork and chutney sandwiches for lunch and this evening we had the rest of the beetroot and potato gratin, served with spicy roast butternut squash and chicken wrapped in smoky bacon.

I think my focus in the next few weeks will be on how to make really good meals quickly on weekday evenings – some will be from scratch, others will involve some prep the weekend before. Watch this space.

Chicken chasseur

12 Jun

So, I’m trying to be really organised, planning meals in advance and doing a big shop once a week in Edinburgh. And this week I’ve got some of it right. I did the big shop (online, delivered yesterday evening) and then started the planning once I had the food in my cupboards and the fridge. Clearly that’s the wrong way around, but it’s ok.. it’s coming together. And next week I’ll be better and plan first, shop second.

The other problem with my shop is that I hadn’t been home in my flat for ten days, so the shopping was sort of done from memory. As a result I’ve got LOTS of flour, and am running out of washing up liquid. Ah well, first world problems!

Anyway, this evening my plan told me that supper would be made from chicken, mushrooms, potato. And perhaps carrot and courgette. This was all pointing towards a chicken chasseur. Chasseur recipes are meals that hunters might eat (I think) … although I suspect that no self-respecting hunter would eat the chicken I was going to cook. But I think it is the mushrooms that all chasseurs traditionally have. Or am I entirely wrong and that’s a chicken forestiere? Oh, I really must do some research before I start trying to write about things I think I know more about than I really do.

But this is my version of what I am going to call chicken chasseur. It’s relatively cheap, easy to adapt, and pretty healthy. I’m trying to lose weight at the moment. Trying? I’m succeeding! I’m on weightwatchers, and it’s working really well for me, losing between 1 and 2lbs a week. And this recipe works well on the weightwatchers system. So I’ll be having leftovers for lunch tomorrow with some bulgur wheat!

Chicken Chasseur

  • 600g chicken thighs (between 6 and 8 thighs probably). Either leave them whole, or cut them into chunks… cut off any fat, to keep it healthy
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut in half then sliced thinly, in half moon shapes
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped into wee chunks
  • 1 red pepper, cut into chunks
  • about 300g chestnut mushrooms, cut in half
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • thyme – either dried or fresh, or parsley
  1. Brown the chicken thighs in a large frying pan. If you have an oil sprayer, then use that, if you don’t then use a minimum amount of oil so the thighs don’t stick
  2. Remove the chicken from the pan and put to one side
  3. Lightly fry the onion in the pan for 3-4 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients, and add the chicken back into the pan
  4. Add a half a pint or so of water. Ideally everything should be in the sauce, although it doesn’t need to be entirely submerged.
  5. Stir it gently, then cover the pan and let it bubble away for about 30 minutes. Less time if you cut those thighs into bits before you started.
And that’s it. Serve it with bulgur wheat. Or a baked potato. Or potato wedges, done in the oven with other roasted veg such as courgettes, and onions. That’s what I had this evening and it was super tasty.
And now I’m going to be really geeky and make a list of the foods I have in my cupboard, so I can tick things off when I need them and be more organised with my shopping, and eating. Yeah, go me, I’m so rock n roll!

Spicy turmeric chicken

2 May

I love recipe books, and have a relatively large collection. One I’ve owned for a while, but have cooked little from is Leon’s Naturally Fast Food. It’s a beautiful thing, lovely design (although will it seem very dated when I look back at it in 10 years time?) and some great recipes for making fast, fresh food.

This morning before I left for work I had a quick flick through the recipes and decided to make their South Indian Pepper Chicken. It’s a beautifully simple recipe, and pretty low fat, so it’s my kinda healthy too.

South Indian Pepper Chicken

  • A drizzle of olive oil (use the stuff from the spray bottle if you care, otherwise use about a teaspoonful)
  • About 500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs, diced
  • Maldon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • about 1″ root ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 large onion, cut in half, then sliced finely to give thin crescent shapes
  • a heaped tsp turmeric
  • 2 tomatoes, roughly diced
  1. Heat the oil in large frying pan, add the chicken pieces, then sprinkle on a good pinch of sea salt and LOTS of black pepper. Stir it about then add some more black pepper
  2. Cook for a few minutes, till the chicken browns. Then tip it out of the pan into a bowl and set aside
  3. Add the garlic, onion, ginger and turmeric to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes
  4. Add the tomatoes and a good glug of water and stir together
  5. Add the chicken back into the pan and cook with a lid on for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. Take the lid off and reduce the sauce down a little if it’s all too wet still.
Serve with rice and kale. I had no rice in the flat, so had it with noodles instead and it was bloody lovely. This is enough to serve 2 or 3, depending how hungry you are, and what you’re serving it with.

Gumbo party

14 Mar

Is it a soup?

Is it a stew?

It’s a gumbo!

One of my colleagues is in his early 20s and is really just learning about cooking properly. A few weeks ago he was very proud of the chicken gumbo he had made. He was surprised how easy it was to make something so tasty.

Fast forward to this Monday, and I was at a bit of a loss as to what to cook for supper. All I knew I had in the fridge was a chorizo sausage. So, my colleague suggested chicken gumbo. Perfect!

The basic recipe which inspired this is on the bbc good food website here. If you haven’t checked out the recipes on bbc good food, you’ve missed out.  Go on, have a browse – they have more pics than I usually do.

A top tip here: chop up everything else and put them in bowls (doubling things up that are being thrown in the pan together) before you cut up your chicken. That way, you just need to clean the knife and the board at the end.

Chicken Gumbo

  • 4 – 5 chicken thighs, cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smooshed up
  • 1 green chilli, sliced finely
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped finely
  • 1 TBsp plain flour
  • 1 large tin/carton chopped tomatoes
  • a chicken stock cube
  • a mug of boiling water
  • 1 courgette, cut into chunks
  • 2 red peppers, cut into chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a couple of stalks of fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • about 100g chorizo, chopped into chunks
  • a couple of new potatoes, cut into small chunks
  • a few handfuls of spinach
  1. Using a wee bit of oil, fry off the chicken in a large heavy bottomed frying pan
  2. Remove the chicken, and let it rest in a bowl till you’re ready for it again
  3. Add the celery and onion to the pan, and cook over a gentle heat till the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for another couple of minutes
  4. Add the flour to the veg, stir and cook for a minute or so.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock cube and boiling water and stir together
  6. Put the chicken back in the pan, followed by all other ingredients, except for the spinach, and simmer with a lid on for about 20 minutes
  7. Add the spinach and stir through – it won’t really need further cooking as the spinach will just wilt into the gumbo
  8. EAT!
This is great the next day once the flavours have melded together. I had it on its own as there is plenty veg in there with the meat. However, if you want more carbs, it would be lovely with noodles or rice.
It’s a pretty flexible recipe – add peas, sweetcorn, even prawns or fish. And make it as spicy or plain as you want. But you knew that already.
Next year it’s Gumbo instead of pancakes for Shrove Tuesday!

Summer chicken supper

2 Jul

I love those days when you have an abundance of flavours to play with.  They are usually summer days, with herbs a plenty in the garden.

Today I knew I had a chicken breast for supper. And some savoy cabbage. And we already had potatoes but we had a wee potato surprise mid-afternoon.  One of the pear trees had got blown over in the storms earlier this year, and in its place a potato plant had grown! No doubt the tatties would have grown anyway, but at least this way we could harvest without damaging a precious pear tree.

And my new quince tree had been delivered this week, and it needed to be planted in the old pear tree space.  So today we lifted the rogue potato, and harvested half a dozen gorgeous new potatoes.  And the quince is happy!

So, boiled new potatoes were a definite for supper.  And shredded savoy cabbage, quickly boiled so it retains its fabulous colour and all its cabbagey goodness.

I decided to stuff the chicken breast, with some herby mushroomy numminess.

Mushroom stuffed chicken breast

Half a medium onion, finely chopped

4 mushrooms, chopped

a garlic clove, chopped finely

a large bunch of marjoram, chopped

One large skinless chicken breast

About 4 slices of parma ham, depending on the size of the chicken breast

Add a swirl of olive oil to a small pan, add the onion and heat gently.  Once the onions start to soften add the mushrooms and the garlic and cook gently.  Add the herbs.

While the mushrooms are cooking, ‘open out’ the chicken breast, but pulling across the mini fillet and making the whole breast as wide as it can go.  If it is thick enough, cut gently into the thickest part of the breast to help make it even wider.

Now place the chicken breast on a large piece of clingfilm, fold the clingfilm over it, so the chicken is enclosed.  And start bashing it out further using the heel of your hand.  You’re aiming to get the breast thinner, and fairly uniform in thickness.  And also big enough that you can encase the mushroom mixture in it.

Once you’re done, spoon the mushroom mixture in a ridge towards the edge of  the chicken breast.  And find a way to wrap the chicken round the mushroom – don’t worry if it’s not perfect, as you’re going to seal it by wrapping the whole thing in bits of parma ham.

So, that’s what you’re going to do next.  Wrap the stuffed chicken breast with pieces of parma ham.  It’s lovely if they all come out in nice neat slices and you can lay them overlapping on a board and then roll them round the chicken.  But if they come out in half slices, just do your best, by overlapping one piece then another till the whole chicken breast is encased in parma ham.

Lightly oil a baking tray, and then place the chicken breast on the tray and pop it in a medium hot oven for about 40 minutes or so.  Until it’s done.

Serve in fat slices – a whole chicken breast will be enough for two people – with new potatoes and savoy cabbage. Scrumptious.

No pictures – we ate it too quickly.

 

 

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