Chorizo Roast Chicken

 My first ever present from D was a cookbook.  We’d only been dating for a couple of weeks when the Christmas holidays began and I vanished to spend Christmas with my family in Aberdeen and New Year with friends in Paris.  When he sprung his gift on me I was embarrassed – I hadn’t got him anything! – but he reassured me by saying that because he expected to taste all the recipes, this gift was going to benefit him as much as me.  And he was right, for many of his favourite dishes come from this cookbook: Jamie’s Dinners.

I regularly used to ask D to choose a meal for me to cook for him but I’ve stopped that now.  Am I a meanie?  No.  I just know what the answer will always be: Chorizo Roast Chicken.  This is a recipe that I discovered in Jamie’s Dinners but have continued to adapt.  The original recipe is incredible simple.  My changes make the process more complicated but, I promised you, it’s worth it.  The potatoes are crispier and the gravy is amazing.  :)

Chorizo Roast Chicken

(Serves 4)

2kg free range chicken

2 tblspns smoked paprika

1kg potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 lemons

A few sprigs of fresh thyme

400g chorizo, cut into 2 cm pieces

Seasoning

Olive oil

A little stock

  • Place the chicken in a deep baking tray, season and rub with the smoked paprika.
  • Add the potatoes and lemon to a pan of cold water.  Bring to the boil and cook for 5 mins.  Drain.
  • Pierce the lemons and stuff into the chicken’s cavity along with the thyme.
  • Give the potatoes a good shake to create some rough edges.
  • Meanwhile, add the chorizo to a heavy based frying pan and heat gently until the sausage releases enough fat to cover the base of the pan. 
  • Remove the chorizo from the frying pan.  Add the parboiled potatoes to the same frying pan and coat with the flavoured fat.
  • Add the potatoes and chorizo to the baking tray containing the chicken.
  • Wet some greaseproof paper and cover the chicken and potatoes tightly.
  • Cook in a 220oC oven for 1hr and 45 mins.
  • Remove grease proof paper and cook for another 10 mins to crisp up the chicken’s skin.
  • Remove pan from oven.  Tip chicken to release all the juices contained in the cavity.  Place chicken on a plate and leave to rest.
  • Remove potatoes from pan and add to clean baking tray.  Place back in oven for 10 mins to crisp up.
  • Meanwhile, place original baking tray on the stove over a med-low heat.  Add a little stock to chicken’s juices and the chorizo pieces.  Stir well to create a gravy.
  • Slice chicken and serve with the roast potatoes, lots of green veg and the chunky chorizo gravy over the top.
  • Yum, yum, yum.

The Perfect Bacon Sandwich (according to D)

Browsing my usual blog haunts early this extended Sunday morning, I came across Rose’s post on her perfect weekend breakfast.  Surrounded by hoards of her nearest and dearest, Rose would like to see a very elegant spread of:

‘…coffee and milk and chocolate. There would be two different types of bread, for those who like toasts in the morning, a basket of Madeleine, a basket of seasonal fruits, some scrambled eggs (at least for those who can eat eggs in the morning because I just can’t).
There would be some homemade vanilla yogurt, three types of jam, some butter, a bowl of granola, and some maple syrup to go with a sky-high plate of Buckwheat and apple cider crepes.’

Sounds wonderful to me.  What my own perfect Sunday morning feast would be, I’m not sure; I’ll have to think about that.  My partner D needs no thinking time though.  Without a doubt, his breakfast of choice is a crispy yet moist, bacon butty.

 D’s love affair with bacon butties has existed for years.  It’s a relationship I understand – after all, it was the smell of this very sandwich which re-converted me to meat-eating after years of vegetarianism – but I don’t have quite the same zeal for it as D does. 

After countless Sunday mornings, D reckons he has perfected the bacon sandwich making technique and has, very graciously, agreed to let me share his tips with you.  ;)

Tips for the Perfect Bacon Butty

  • Use thinly sliced, unsmoked back bacon.  The thick butchers’ cuts don’t go cripsy enough.
  • Cook three rashers for each roll.
  • Heat the grill to medium-high and place the grill pan 2 inches from the heat source.
  • Cook the rashers for up to 15 minutes, turning frequently once.  The bacon is ready when all of the fat has turned golden and crispy.
  • The buns should be soft and floury.  Glasgow rolls (for those of you who can get them) are perfect.
  • Forego all sauces (I baulked at this) and simply spread each side of the roll with soft unsalted butter.
  • Serve with a strong cup of tea.

NB Have just corrected some statements after D proof-read this post!

Miaow

It was half an hour into the performance when fourteen year old Lewis whispered to me: “Miss, is this seriously two and a half hours of singing and dancing cats?”  When I nodded an affirmative his eyes widened then momentarily flicked towards the lit green exit sign to my right.

“Don’t even think about it,” I hissed threateningly.  “If I have to sit through this, so do you.”

Cats, it turned out, really wasn’t my cup of tea at all.  Cracking songs, great dancing and a jaw-droppingly beautiful set, but my imagination simply wasn’t captured.  Luckily, myself and bored Lewis were in the minority; the vast majority of the kids adored the performance and were high as kites afterwards.  Even caught a few of them today walking down corridors humming Magical Mr Mistoffelees.  Love it!  :)

Despite my misgivings about Cats, I felt like a feline themed dinner this evening.  What do cats like, I wondered.  Fish and milk, of course. And fish and milk can mean only one thing to a Scot: Cullen Skink.

Cullen Skink is a hearty, Scottish fish soup.  It’s namesake, Cullen, is an adorable maritime village on the north-east coast, not too far from here.  What “skink” means, I’m not sure.  Some books claim it is from the Gaelic meaning “essence” but when I asked a Gaelic speaker about this today she claimed that was rubbish and that perhaps it was from a Norse language.  Chatted to a Swedish friend but all to no avail: I am still none the wiser.  Anyone out there know?

Cullen Skink

(serves 2 as a main, 6 as a starter)

Knob of butter

1 onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

2 undyed, naturally smoked haddock fillets

1 pint of milk

1 bay leaf

1 very large potato, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes

Double cream (25 – 50ml)

Seasoning

Chives

  • Melt the butter in a heavy based pan.  Add the onion and celery and cook gently until softened.
  • Add the haddock fillets to the pan and just cover with milk.  Bring up to simmering point and cook for 4 minutes.
  • Remove the fish from the pan and reserve. 
  • Add the potatoes to the pan and the remaining milk.  Bring up to simmering point and cook for 10 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through.
  • Meanwhile, flake the haddock fillets using your hands. 
  • When potatoes are cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove some potato/onion/celery chunks from the soup. 
  • Add most of haddock to the soup, reserving a little with the vegetable chunks.
  • Liquidise the soup until silky smooth. Season very carefully and add cream to taste.  Heat gently then pour into bowls.
  • Add some of the vegetable chunks and haddock to the soup and sprinkle with chives.

Simply Mushrooms

 

After two glorious weeks of castles, sunshine and log fires, returning to work this week has been a struggle to say the least.  The days are shrinking in terms of light and I’m starting to suspect that the amount of time in each day is being reduced too.  That would explain why I don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything! 

I can’t complain too much though.  This is a hectic week but it’s gone very well so far and tomorrow I’m escaping the classroom for a day.  Escaping on a bus along with 46 kids and heading down to Edinburgh to see the musical “Cats”.  Wonderful.  :)

Busy days mean speedy meals.  A great time to discover mushrooms on toast!  Why have I never tried this before?  I have no idea. 

Mushrooms for One

2 tblspn dried mushrooms (I used my chanterelles)

6 chestnut mushrooms, sliced

1 tspn olive oil

1 tspn butter

1 garlic clove, sliced

1 tblspn parsley, chopped

Seasoning

Parmesan, grated

  • Soak the dried mushrooms in 100ml of hot water for 30 mins.  Drain, reserving the water for later.
  • Warm the oil and butter in a frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the garlic and both types of mushrooms to the pan and toss well.  Cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the mushroom water to the pan along with the parsley.
  • Cook gently for 10 mins.  Increase the heat and cook vigourously until most of the sauce has reduced. 
  • Season well.
  • Serve on toasted crusty bread and sprinkle with parmesan.

Membrillo (Quince Paste)

  

Early in the year I planted a small quince bush in my front garden.  What quinces were exactly, I wasn’t sure.  And what one did with them, I had no clue.  When my young shrub unexpectedly produced one little piece of fruit I picked it excitedly and cut it open.

The pale flesh was very hard and tasted extremely bitter.  This, I later discovered, was partly because the fruit wasn’t fully ripe yet (the skin should have been more yellow than green) but mostly because quinces don’t taste nice raw.  Full stop.

When, later the same day, a friend kindly gave me a big bag full of ripe quinces I knew not to waste my time nibbling on them raw.  Instead, after a little research, I decided to make quince paste.  Membrillo in Spanish, quince paste is typically served with Manchego cheese.   As an enormous fan of all cheese and jam combinations (cheddar and bramble jelly on toast being my favourite), I was hugely excited about this recipe. 

And it did not disappointed.  The tart, grainy, amber jelly was an absolute treat with the chunk of Mull brie left over from last week’s extravagances.  And the best bit?  There’s still heaps left!  :)

Membrillo (Quince Paste)

2 kg quinces, skin left on, quartered and cored

500ml water (Read Jose’s advice in the comments below.)

Juice of 1 lemon

Caster sugar

1 Cinnamon stick

  • Bring the quinces, water and lemon juice to the boil then reduce heat.  Simmer with the lid on for 45 minutes.
  • Use a handblender to puree the fruit and water.
  • Weigh the purée and add to a clean pan along with an equal weight of sugar and the cinnamon stick.
  • Gently heat the paste over a low heat stirring frequently.
  • After 30-45 minutes the paste should be thickening.  Keep a closer eye on the paste at this point, stirring continually.
  • Once the paste has become thick enough to stand a spoon in and is a deep orange colour, remove the pan from the heat.
  • Tip mixture into a shallow, lined baking tray or ovenproof dish.  Keep in a warm place (airing cupboard or 50oC oven) for 12 hours. 
  • Your paste is now ready!  Store in foil in an air tight container for up to a year. 

Glenbuckie House

For the last five days my family and I have been staying in Glenbuckie House, a beautiful Victorian manor in Comrie, Perthshire.  It was perfect!  Frosty mornings, sunny days, starry nights, falling leaves, woodland walks, pancake breakfasts, silver squirrels, a cuddly spaniel, roaring fires, hide and seek…  I could go on forever!

Choosing which photos to publish on this post was a nightmare.  Some extras are on my Flickr page if you’d like to see more.  :)

Hooray for Markies!

I wasn’t entirely honest in my last post.  The question that I claimed to be hypothetical was actually about my own experience.  Yes, I know you are shocked (I am, after all, a master of deception) but my motivation was not malicious.  I was embarrassed to have failed so miserably in my first attempt at cooking a large leg of meat.

My sincere thanks to all who gave me advice on how to salvage the ham.  I tried boiling it again with some potatoes to draw out the salt and when that didn’t work I submerged it in a vat of Coca Cola.  Unfortunately, that didn’t work either; it was a ridiculously salty joint.  Eventually, I admitted defeat, bagged/froze some of the salty meat for future minestrones and headed down town for an emergency replacement.   

God bless Marks and Spencers!

I am quite sure my family will also be praising Markies tomorrow night when they sit down to a dinner of roast pork and trimmings rather than just the trimmings.  Though I have to say, the side dishes I have planned aren’t too shabby!  In particular, Jamie Oliver’s leek dish should go down a treat.  

 Slow Roasted Leeks with Bacon

 (for 10 as a side)

12 medium leeks

Knob of butter

Olive oil

Palmful of thyme leaves

4 garlic cloves, chopped

Glass of white wine

200ml stock

8 rashers of streaky bacon

  • Remove tough outer leaves of the leeks and chop off each end.
  • Cut the green part of the leek off and chop finely.  Saute for 10 mins with the butter, a drizzle of olive oil, the garlic and thyme.
  • Meanwhile, cut the white part of the leeks into 2 inch long sections.
  • Add the sauted leeks to a buttered oven-proof dish and top with the white leek parts, preferably standing each white bit upright (that’s just aesthetics though).
  • Add the wine and stock then cover with the bacon.
  • Wrap tightly in tinfoil and cook in a 200oC oven for 1 hour.
  • Remove tinfoil and cook for a further 20 mins or until the bacon is crispy.
  • Serve with the bacon crumbled over the top.

Excuse my silence over the next week.  Myself and my family are all off to spend a week in a Perthshire cottage to celebrate my brother’s 40th and my 30th. 

Will tell you all about it next week.  :)

Hypothetical Question (A.K.A. HELP!)

Imagine one had bought an enormous leg of ham to feed their family on Monday night.  And imagine one discovered on tasting the cooked ham that (despite following the butcher’s and Gary Rhodes’ preparation advice to the letter) it was unpalatably salty.

What might one do?

Hypothetically speaking, of course…  ;)

30

 Today I’m thirty. 

To celebrate, D and I drove up to Dornoch yesterday and spent a wonderful afternoon walking and paddling on the beach followed by a dream-like evening snuggled up before a roaring fire, sipping champagne in a castle. 

Wish I could spend all my birthdays in castles…

 

Crash Hot Potatoes.

I know how to make perfect roast potatoes. 

This is not a lightly made assertion.  Last winter, armed with three types of potato, four different fats, a timer, an oven and an Exel spreadsheet, I spent the best part of five hours carefully testing all the varients (including parboiling times, roasting temperatures and ovenware) of roast potato making.

No.  I’m not kidding.   It was all very Heston Blumenthal.  And my hard work paid off.  After five oven blasted hours I knew the secrets of the perfect roast potato.

It was, therefore, with more than a little chagrin that the very first time I tried the following Jill Dupliex recipe it resulted in a crispy yet fluffy potato which (aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrgggggggggggh) is every bit as perfect as those scientifically tested tatties of last winter. 

And it’s a much simpler recipe.

Harrumph

Crash Hot Potatoes

(serves 4)

16 small, round potatoes (skin left on)

Olive oil

Rosemary

Seasoning

  • Add the potatoes to a large pan of salted water.  Bring to the boil.  Simmer briskly for 15 minutes or until potatoes are almost cooked.
  • Remove potatoes from the pan and place on a baking tray.  Using a masher or the back of a big spoon, gently squish each potato until they are half intact, half broken up.
  • Sprinkle with rosemary and seasoning then brush or spray generously with olive oil.
  • Roast in a very hot (225oC) oven for 15-20 minutes.

And that’s it.  Harrumph.