Wicked Chicken Korma

I made this on the fly for dinner the other night, and didn't write it down at the time, but it went something like this:

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 thumb-size piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • Butter and oil, or ghee
  • 4 small boneless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 2 handfuls raw shelled pistachios
  • 1 handful vanilla-soaked dried apricots (or organic apricots and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, or half a bean)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cardamom
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 small tin coconut milk
  • Chicken stock
  • Small tub creme fraiche
  • Ground almonds
  • 2 hard bananas
  • More butter
  • A tub of dry crispy fried onions

In a big heavy pan, melt the garlic, ginger and onion in the fat, slowly. Soften but not colour. Add the chicken, nuts, apricots, and spices. Stew gently and stir until the chicken is coated in the spices and cooked on the outside. Add the coconut milk and enough chicken stock to cover. Cover and simmer gently for up to a couple of hours, if you can, but at least half an hour. Take the lid off and mash the apricots into the sauce. Simmer again for at least another half an hour, longer if possible. Top up with water if necessary. When you're getting close to serving time, add the creme fraiche and stir in. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of ground almonds on the top and stir in well. This will thicken the sauce, let the first lot swell and do its work before adding more if you want thicker sauce. Watch it as the thicker it gets, the quicker it's likely to catch and scorch. While that's happening, chop the bananas into chunks and fry quickly in butter until golden.

Serve the chicken with the bananas on top, a sprinkling of fried onions, and some plain rice or naan bread to soak up the sauce. We had it with lamb stewed for hours in a low oven with tomatoes and hotter spices, and an aubergine and red pepper madras.

If you can't find the onions in your regular ethnic stores, try the IKEA food shop, or make your own by finely shredding shallots, frying in light hot oil until crisp, and draining well. Dry on paper towels. Or don't bother – a bit of crunch adds a nice texture but it isn't necessary.

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Christmas Dinner 2007

Found some goose breast crowns in LIDL, weighing about a kilo each, for £8. The instructions were to roast at 200 (Gas Mark 6) for an hour, and that worked really well. I was using a single small oven this year, and that let me roast the potatoes underneath and the celery stuffing on the bottom.

Two of them gave off about a pint of good quality fat, and we carved off two whole breasts from each one, one breast per person. That was a large portion of solid meat, and there was a spare breast for slices if seconds were required.

The German meat stall at the Sheffield Christmas Market sold sealed longlife bags of shredded red cabbage cooked in apple juice, I microwaved one of them as a veg.

Dad did his oriental braised sprouts, and carrots with soy sauce and star anise. There were some steamed new potatoes, as well as the roasties.

Plain gravy made in the goose roasting tin, with some Chardonnay left over from Christmas Eve supper.

EDIT: Whoops, forgot, apple butter sauce with cloves as well

Bottle of Quinze President with main course.

A Waitrose "richly fruited" christmas pudding, with cream or white sauce, and a tiny bottle of Royal Tokay wine.

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Beef Stew with Clementine Juice and Ginger Wine

I saw this recipe in a recent Waitrose magazine, and adapted it for our tea today.

800 gm pack diced braising steak
1 oz plain flour, seasoned
4 banana shallots
2 tbsps oil
1 piece star anise
Half bottle (250ml) fresh clementine juice
250 ml reserve (red top) ginger wine
75 ml beef stock

Heat oven to Gas Mark 2. Toss the meat in the flour, fry in batches in half the oil. Put aside. Chop and fry the shallots in the rest of the oil. Stir in the anise and the liquids, tip the meat back in and boil. Put a lid on it and bung it in the oven for an hour. Take the lid off and give it a stir, and another hour. If you're not ready to eat it, chill it and reheat, or keep on very low for another hour or so.

It was nicely orangey, and a tart orange rather than a sickly one. The ginger smelled good initially, but faded and you could only just taste it. Maybe a bit more fresh or powdered ginger towards the end? It smelled of a good Chinese restaurant while it was cooking, they recommended mash and green veg with it (which is what we had), but I'm thinking boiled rice and a crisp veg stir fry. There was lots of gravy, it was a bit pale and pasty, like flour-based stews often are. Perhaps keep the flour out, just cook in less liquid initially and then thicken at the end with some cornflour and more ginger wine. That was quite a hit of sugar, though. That quantity gave us two large portions each and there's a good portion left.

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Restaurant Review – Jabu

We're going to Jabu tonight, we haven't been for quite a while. Last time we went, I wrote this:

 

Can't believe I haven't mentioned Jabu before, but it seems not, or at least I can't find it. Went out with John, Guinness, the Lawsons, Julia, and Julian, for a pre-Eastercon gathering as some people are heading up today and will miss the regular pub this evening.

Jabu is a Chinese Fondue and Dumpling house, a dark pine and orange plastic cafe. Each table has an electronic hotplate. First course is a choice of fresh steamed dumplings, Northern Chinese style. Lamb and Coriander is one of our favourites, there are beef, pork, chicken and veggie based ones, heavy on the seasoning and with lots of interesting textures. £4 for 12, with dipping sauces, one soy/vinegar, one chilli/sesame. Then they bring a wok-style pot, with a divider down the middle. You choose two flavours of broth (chicken and spicy for us), they fill the pot and put it on the hotplate. Little plates of goodies (from a long, long list) arrive and you cook your choice in the broth. More dipping sauces – sesame paste, sweet chilli, garlic, wasabi/soy. Goodies last night included squid, salmon, scallops, chicken, paperthin sliced beef and lamb, assorted veggies, udon and slim noodles, and a softshell crab. You can also have a range of tofu, meat and fish balls, mushrooms, seasonal veggies, more seafood including about four types of prawns, and tripe. After you've played the cooking game for a while and run out of things to experiment with, they bring small bowls and you have the last of the noodles with the now concentrated and flavoured soup. A few pieces of cut fruit for dessert. Tea to drink throughout, they have a full menu of Chinese teas and will explain the differences. The main waitress is a phenomenon, permanently bouncy, enthusiastic about everything, will show you how to cook things if you're wary, and scurries around refilling tea, soup etc  as necessary. It was a fun evening, it's a highly social event with lots of messing about. Seven/eight is about the maximum number, though, even then people were having to stand up or stretch to reach the pot. And stunningly cheap – it worked out at £10 per head for a good 2 – 3 hours entertainment and gorgeuous food. Healthier than your average Chinese meal as well, with no deep-frying or overly sweet sauces. Yum Yum.

EDIT – I did mention it before, just didn't tag it properly. Fuller review here – nothing much seems to have changed, though! http://frandowdsofa.livejournal.com/77301.html

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Things to do with Goose

The Cuisine for December 1984 also had a retro-article on goose cookery, it's not worth writing out the recipes, they were fairly standard, but some of the ideas were a little bit different. And would do fine for duck too.

Liver – dredge with seasoned flour and cook in goose fat on a high heat, serving with a jammy sauce made with prunes soaked in Madeira, onions and tart apples, with a little marjoram at the end.

Casserole – with onions and mushrooms, finished off with double cream, french mustard and fresh parsley

Ragout with bacon, turnips, cloves, bay leaf – caramelising the turnips in goose fat and sugar before adding them

A very complex stuffing for goose, making a cornbread with crumbled Italian sausage in it, mixing that with dried orchard fruits and mushrooms. Served with chestnuts braised with celery and goose gravy until coated and caramelised, and honeyed yams. I wouldn't do all three of those, it would be far too sweet – and certainly I'd want a watercress salad on the side, or a raw cranberry relish, or something very tart and sharp.

 

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Yorkshire Wraps

Have just been out to The Museum pub in Orchard Square. John's in town for a job thing, so we had a treat lunch together. I noticed a strange item on the menu, but it was too hot to order it and see what it actually was. Luckily the woman on the next table had one, so I now understand the principle behind the Yorkshire Wrap.

In a lot of pubs round here you can get a yorkshire pudding, usually somewhere between 4 and 10 inches across, filled with meat and gravy. The meat is traditionally a roast dinner – beef in gravy, say, and you get chips or roast potatoes on the side, plus boiled veg sometimes. The puddings are thick and flabby, like a very stodgy round pancake but with high side edges to hold in the filling. Someone has had a flash of inspiration, and re-created it as finger food.

Take a ready-made catering size pudding, and warm it through. Don't let it get crisp (which I think of as one of the key criteria for a yorkshire pudding, oh well, never mind). Lay it out flat and top it with slices of roast beef smeared with horseradish. Roll it up. Put it (or, dear god, more than one) on a hot plate, add a portion of chips and a large ramekin of good gravy, a salad garnish to look healthy and colourful. Eat with your fingers, dunking as you go.

The pub does two of these, the beef one as described above and another one with sausages and fried red onions, each priced at £6.25. Which is slightly cheaper than one of their (rather good) burgers.

 

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