A Soup of My Leftovers

Roast chicken, kale and lentil soup

Roast chicken, kale and lentil soup

In the last few days I have spent a considerable time complaining about three things:  being ill, having a sprained shoulder and that our precious Mk1 Golf GTI has broken down again.  It seems 30-year old things break down occasionally, myself included.

On Sunday I made the simplest roast chicken: half a lemon in the cavity, a little olive oil and a lot of sea salt on the skin to make it really crispy, roast for two hours. That’s it.  I always buy a large chicken, even just for the two of us, as I love to have leftovers.  Even once we have made a huge dent on the breast meat and thigh meat, and have devoured a wing each (the best bit), there is usually still enough for another large meal and a couple of sandwiches.  I have made a number of chicken pies with the leftover meat, especially in the colder months; in the summer it ends up in salads, like my chicken and bread salad with harissa and pomegranate seeds.  This time, it was destined for a soup – just the thing for a warming weeknight supper.

This soup is, as the best chicken soups are, based on a broth of chicken stock.  Home made, of course, is best, but if you don’t have it, stock cubes are fine.  This time, my broth was a mixture of both.  I usually decant chicken stock into old plastic soup containers, which hold about 600ml of liquid.  I only had one left, and the soup requires about 1200ml of stock, so I made up the rest with a cube.

Also in this soup is a healthy mixture of kale, onions, celery, green lentils and pearl barley.  It can be made in under an hour and is best served with crusty bread.  The crustier, the better.

Roast Chicken, Kale and Lentil Soup

Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Large pinch chilli flakes
1 bay leaf
1.2l chicken stock
100g pearl barley
100g green lentils
Leftover roast chicken
75ml natural yoghurt
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Two large handfuls kale, shredded
2 tbsp lemon juice

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute the onion, celery and garlic until translucent – about five minutes.  Stir in the cumin, cinnamon, chilli and bay leaf and cook for a further couple of minutes.

Add the chicken stock, pearl barley and lentils, bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until the barley and lentils are tender.

Add the roast chicken and the yoghurt and heat through without boiling.  Season with salt and black pepper.

Toss the kale in a little lemon juice then divide between two large bowls.  Ladle the soup over the kale, the heat will wilt it.

Serves two with extra for leftovers.  Adapted from a recipe by Gourmet Traveller.

One Year Ago:  Allspice-Roasted Pumpkin with Chickpeas and a Tahini-Lemon Dressing

Sriracha Wings

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Sriracha wings

At the weekend, Claire and Will had a BBQ in their Forest Hill garden.  These are eagerly anticipated, not only because Claire makes a frickin’ good burger, but also because us London-dwellers have little outside space so appreciate a good BBQ all the more.

My contribution to the BBQ is always chicken.  A few wings to have alongside the epic burger.  For years I have made them with a chipotle-honey glaze, as I would have this time had I not entirely run out of chipotle paste (a very rare occurrence in our house).  A quick scout around on the internet produced a few different hot wing recipes, but none I liked as much as Serious Eats’s Sriracha wings.  Of course, you could just smear a load of Sriracha straight from the bottle on to the wings, but this recipe combines it with honey, lime and soy to create a more multi-dimensional sauce and tones down the levels of heat and garlic you usually get when you eat the sauce straight.

Sriracha wings

Sriracha wings

These wings are prepared in two stages:  firstly a dry marinade of salt and baking powder dehydrates the skin to make it crisp up more when cooked (since discovering this, I never make wings any other way), and then a coat of the Sriracha sauce just before putting on the grill.  This recipe has plenty of sauce for the amount of wings, so you can re-baste whilst the wings cook, building up levels of glaze for a stickier wing.

Sriracha Wings
Adapted from a recipe by Serious Eats

12 chicken wings, jointed and tips removed
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp sea salt

For the sauce
55g butter
125ml Sriracha
2 tbsp honey
1½ tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1½ tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp rice vinegar

Arrange the chicken wings in a large bowl, skin side up.  Mix together the baking powder and sea salt and sprinkle over the wings.  Refrigerate, uncovered, for 4-8 hours.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan and allow to cool slightly.  Whisk in the remaining ingredients.

When you are ready to cook, brush a liberal amount of the sauce over the chicken wings, turning them over to coat the underside too.  Cook them on a barbecue until the skins are crisp and the meat cooked through, adding more of the sauce as you go.  Transfer to a plate and serve.

Maille Culinary Challenge: Harissa and Lemon Mustard Chicken

Harissa and Lemon Mustard Chicken with Date and Almnd Cous Cous

Harissa and Lemon Mustard Chicken with Date and Almnd Cous Cous

If you were to take a look in my perpetually overloaded fridge, you may worry that I have something of a mustard obsession.  At the very minimum I will keep four types in the fridge:  good old English mustard for ham sandwiches, wholegrain for salad dressings, Dijon for sauces and a bright yellow tube of French’s American mustard for squeezing over burgers or zig-zagging over hotdogs.  As well as this, I have a tin of mustard powder in the cupboard, which often makes its way into shortcrust pastry and my favourite cheese, chive and mustard scones, and a stash of both horseradish and wasabi.  I love the kind of heat that you get from those ingredients, the kind that, unlike the heat from chillies, blasts you in the nose and sends a pulse of fire through your sinuses.  I love it to the point of addiction, so was very happy to be approached by Maille to take part in their culinary challenge.

Maille is a brand of mustards, sauces and oils from France that started in the eighteenth century.  Despite the fact that they have, in recent years, branched out into other ingredients, it is mainly for their mustard that they are known.  Their boutique in the Piccadilly Arcade is like a mecca for condiment lovers – I never thought I would covet a £29, 125g pot of mustard with chablis and black truffles, but somehow I managed.

From the list of products they sent me, the one that caught my eye was a mustard with white wine, lemon and harissa.  The prospect of the dry heat of mustard combined with the chilli pepper punch of harissa presented the opportunity for some exciting flavours.  This recipe is for a a simple chicken in mustard sauce with the middle eastern influences of harissa, mint, lemon and oregano. It is a quick and simple dish that can be made in under half an hour, so is perfect for a weeknight meal.  The tomato and harissa cut through the cream and mustard and the nuggets of pomegranate seeds and the dates in the cous cous provide a sweetness that matches the flavours surprisingly well.  The dish would work perfectly well without the additional teaspoon of harissa but, if you live with a chilli fiend, as I do, it adds just that little extra punch.

As if the condiment shelf in my fridge wasn’t full enough, it seems I may have to make room for another.

In the bowl

Harissa and Lemon Mustard Chicken with Date and Almond Cous Cous

For the chicken:

  • 6 boneless chicken thighs, cut into strips
  • 3 tbsp Maille Mustard with White Wine, Lemon and Harissa Spices
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • ½ tsp dried mint
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp harissa
  • 180ml hot water
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp double cream
  • 1 tsp fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp pomegranate seeds

For the cous cous:

  • 125g cous cous
  • 10 dates, roughly chopped
  • Handful of almonds, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt and black pepper

Place the chicken thighs in a large shallow dish.  Spoon over the mustard and mix to coat the chicken thoroughly.  Cover with clingfilm and leave to marinate in the fridge for a minimum of two hours, but preferably overnight.

In a large saucepan over a medium heat, gently fry the onion in the olive oil until translucent, 5-10 minutes, be careful not to let it brown.  Once cooked, stir in the dried mint, dried oregano, tomato puree and harissa.  Pour over the hot water and stir until smooth.  Season with the salt and pepper and cook for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Whilst the chicken is cooking, make the cous cous by placing it in a bowl and then covering it with just enough boiling water so that it is submerged.  Cover with clingfilm and leave for ten minutes or so, until the water is absorbed.  Fluff the cous cous with a fork and stir in the dates and almonds.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Once the chicken is cooked through, lower the heat and stir in the double cream.  Check the seasoning.  Remove from the heat and sprinkle over the fresh mint and pomegranate seeds to garnish. Serve with the cous cous.

Serves 2-3 as a main dish.

Street Food Saturdays: Spit & Roast

This morning I woke up with a slight hangover and a hankering for chicken.  It overwhelmed me to the point where I dragged myself from my bed and persuaded Ollie to join me in a walk of four miles across south east London to Brockley Market so that I could buy the best chicken sandwich in the world.

Buttermilk fried chicken bap with slaw and Korean hot sauce

Buttermilk fried chicken bap with slaw and Korean hot sauce

Spit & Roast have been trading at Brockley Market for a year or so and quickly became my favourite street food vendor.  They specialise in chicken: luscious birds spinning on the rotisserie until they have beautifully crispy skin, and some very special buttermilk fried chicken that gets put into a bap with coleslaw and some spiky Korean hot sauce to create a particular kind of sandwich heaven.

The buttermilk fried chicken bap costs £6 and comes piled high with perfectly moist chicken – they will even give you a slick more hot sauce if you ask.  Spit & Roast also offer a quarter, half or whole chicken with chips and will, occasionally, add a pork belly bap to their menu.  This week they had a festive offering with pork, stuffing and cranberry jelly that I saw many market-goers tucking into.  On my next visit, I am going to try the intriguing-sounding turkey poutine.  Roll on next Saturday.

Half a rotisserie chicken and chips

Half a rotisserie chicken and chips

Spit and Roast can be found some Saturdays at Brockley Market and at other street food markets around London.  Check their twitter for details.

Eating Away the Winter Chill

The ultimate comfort food: chicken 'n' dumplings

The ultimate comfort food: chicken ‘n’ dumplings

In this, the first weary week of December when we are all desperately craving our Christmas break, we all seem to be divided into two camps: those who have the sniffles and those who are trying to avoid catching the sniffles as best they can.  In our smoggy city with the recycled air circulating through our offices and the incredibly close proximity to our fellow Londoners on our public transport, it is inevitable that we will all end up with at least one cold during the winter months despite our attempts to evade the dreaded lurgy. In the depths of winter, a sneeze on a crowded train might generate the same reaction as pulling a pin from a hand grenade.

Of course, hot drinks and bed rest are the best remedy for a cold, but I have two other things I can’t live without: Lucozade and chicken ‘n’ dumplings. When laid out on the couch, coughing and making a general nuisance of myself, I will often send Ollie out for six bottles of Original Lucozade (never flavoured) and a whole chicken. Once the Lucozade has kicked in and I have mustered the energy to move, I head to the kitchen to make a huge pot of chicken ‘n’ dumplings: the ultimate in comfort food.

Chicken ‘n’ dumplings is exactly what it says: a brothy stew made with vegetables, white wine, and all of the joints of a chicken, topped with pillowy dumplings.  It is thought that chicken contains an enzyme that is effective at breaking up mucus, which goes to explain why chicken noodle soup is given the famous moniker ‘Jewish penicillin’ and why some studies have shown chicken soup to be more effective at treating symptoms of the common cold than some over-the-counter remedies.  After an hour in the oven, it will fill your kitchen with a smell that will alone make you feel better. If you can find somebody kind enough to bring you a chicken, you’re all set.

Chicken ‘n’ Dumplings

  • 1 whole chicken
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 slices smoked back bacon
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • ¾ tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 180ml dried white wine
  • 350ml chicken stock
  • 350ml water
  • 125g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 150ml single cream

Preheat the oven to 200ºc / 400ºf / gas 6.

Joint the chicken into 10 pieces (two drumsticks, two thighs, two wings and two breasts, each halved) and season well with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and brown the chicken pieces, in batches if necessary. Set aside on a plate.

In the same pan, cook the vegetables and bacon for around 10 minutes on a medium heat until the bacon is brown and the vegetables are tender. Return the chicken to the pan.  Add the wine, turn up the heat and let it bubble away until reduced by a third. Add the stock and water and bring to the boil.  Transfer the contents of the pan to a large casserole dish, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for one hour.

Make the dumplings by combining the flour, baking powder and cream until a soft dough forms. Remove the casserole from the oven, divide the dumpling dough into eight balls and nestle them among the chicken pieces. Return the casserole to the oven, uncovered, and cook for a further 10-12 minutes until the dumplings are puffed up and brown on top.

Adapted from a recipe by Gwyneth Paltrow. Serves four.

Leftover Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken and Bread Salad with Harissa, Pine Nuts and Pomegranate Seeds

Roast Chicken and Bread Salad with Harissa, Pine Nuts and Pomegranate Seeds

This time yesterday I was seeing off the end of a particularly vicious birthday hangover.  To celebrate turning 30, I drank for a sustained period of time from champagne with Thursday breakfast, to afternoon G&Ts, to quinine sours with dinner at Gymkhana, to more champagne with Friday breakfast, to afternoon G&Ts, to copious amounts of gin, vodka and Jager at my Friday night birthday drinks.  After seeing sense and taking myself off to bed at 4am, I was hit with a hangover so debilitating that the only food I could manage was either that I could order to my door or that I could make in a toaster.  Hence having not posted anything here for almost a week.  Birthdays are very distracting, especially when you have friends that are generous at the bar.

By Sunday evening I began to feel well enough to venture back into the kitchen, put all of the empty bottles into the recycling and make something that would vaguely resemble dinner.  Shame prevented me from ordering yet more take out and, sadly, none of the restaurants locally have a dress code that includes ‘snowman pyjamas’, so I was left with little choice. Ollie kindly ventured out to the local supermarket and came back with the ingredients to make the mother of all comfort food:  a roast chicken dinner.  And it was beautiful: roast chicken, gravy, perfect roast potatoes, roasted carrots and green beans.  My contribution to the meal was actually very little – I peeled the carrots – but I had successfully broken out of the slob-zone and was back to real food.

As there is only two of us, we always have a lot of chicken left over from a roast – even from relatively small birds.  My favourite thing to do is to sit down after the meal and strip the last of the chicken from the carcass, putting it on a plate for another purpose later on.  The beauty about cold roast chicken is that it can be used for so many things.  My mother always served us up chicken pie on Mondays to use up the leftover roast.  My particular favourite is an enormous sandwich of roast chicken, a crushed roast potato, a smear of leftover gravy, mayonnaise and rocket on some very thick brown bread – the ultimate sandwich of shame.  This particular bird yielded rather a lot of chicken, so instead I went looking for something a little more substantial, but not a million miles away: a bread salad.

Adding bread to a salad is a great way to bulk out a meal and an alternative to the more traditional carbohydrates of rice and pasta.  It is also a great way to use up stale bread as older bread tends to be more robust when combined with wetter ingredients – fresh bread has a tendency to disintegrate.  Probably the most famous example of this kind of meal is the panzanella – an Italian salad of tomatoes, stale bread, olive oil and vinegar – but recently cooks are experimenting with a larger range of ingredients. This dish combines traditional salad stalwarts – chicken, rocket, tomatoes and olive oil – but is given a middle eastern twist with grilled aubergines, pine nuts, Harissa and pomegranate seeds. For the bread, it is best to use a good middle eastern flatbread, such as levash, but pitta bread will do if you cannot find it. Frying it in a little olive oil until crisp will give the salad an interesting texture.

Roast Chicken and Bread Salad with Harissa, Pine Nuts

  • 500g leftover roast chicken
  • 2 large flatbreads (see above)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 aubergine, cut into 1cm dice
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1½ tbsp harissa
  • 2 large handfuls rocket
  • Seeds of half a pomegranate
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • Sea salt and black pepper

If the chicken has been stored in the fridge, leave it on the side until it reaches room temperature.  Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a frying pan, tear up the flatbreads roughly with your hands and fry in the oil until crisp.  You will need pieces of roughly 1-2″ squared.  Put the chicken and flatbreads pieces in a large bowl.  In the same frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of the remaining olive oil and fry the aubergine until browned and tender.  Add this to the bowl along with the cherry tomatoes.

In a small bowl, combine the Harissa and the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Pour over the chicken, bread and vegetable mix and toss until well coated.  Season well and toss through the rocket leaves and scatter the pine nuts and pomegranate seeds over the top.  Serve at room temperature.

Adapted from a recipe by BBC Good Food, serves four as a main course.