Category Archives: chicken

Chicken, Kale And Lemon Soup

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I make and freeze soups all the time.

During these colder months of the year, when I’m cooking a different pot of soup each week, I portion the left overs into small individual serves and have them on hand in the freezer for when I need good food fast.

At the moment I have a decent but small crop of kale growing in my urban garden, (it loves this cold weather) and this chicken and kale soup is a perfect way of using it up.

 

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I steered clear of potato as a thickener in this soup, instead, short grain risoni pasta is used to add body to the stock and a smoothness to the soup that I find irresistible.

A free range chicken will give the best results here. The stock will be flavoured from its bones and the chicken is then shredded and added back to the pureed soup.

Of course, as with all kale, there is a slight bitterness here that is then accentuated from the lemon, but this too is part of the charm of this particular soup. And with the help of the sour cream and brown sugar the queen of greens flavour is smoothed out, and a silky soup is left in its place.

 

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Kale, chicken and lemon soup

Ingredients 

1 bunch kale

2 medium brown onions, diced

2 large sticks celery, diced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

3 fresh bay leaves

1 tbsp chopped thyme

1.5kg free range whole chicken

1 whole lemon – wax free if you can

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

white pepper

Sea salt

2/3 cup risoni pasta

1 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

To serve

Chopped parsley

Extra virgin olive oil

Wash the kale and trim away the inner woody stalk. Shred into thin pieces.

Place the onions, celery, garlic, bay leaves, fresh thyme, chicken and the lemon in a large pot, add the chicken stock and add 2 litres of cold water, gently bring to the boil.

Skim off any impurities that bubble to the top, turn the heat down and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken and the lemon, and set aside to cool slightly.

Place the soup back on the heat, bring back to the boil, add the shredded kale and risoni pasta, and cook on a rapid heat for 12 minutes. Remove from heat.

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze and strain the juices into the soup. Add the brown sugar and sour cream and puree the soup till smooth. Check the seasoning.

Meanwhile, discard the skin from the chicken and shred the flesh into thin pieces.

Once the soup is blended and seasoned to your liking, add the shredded chicken back to it, warm it through and ladle into bowls. Garnish the soup with chopped parsley and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Mexican Pulled Chicken With Black Beans And Chipotle

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What will endear you to this recipe is its versatility to be served several different ways. I have three different meals that I tend to make from this one chicken recipe.

There’s the obvious way – served with rice. My pick is often with black rice (which isn’t black once cooked but rather a deep purple and the more wholesome of the choices). Of course it’s absolutely delicious with both brown and white as well. Any steamed green will add good balance here.

On other occasions it’s soft tacos. The pulled chicken piled into a soft tortilla and adorned with guacamole, sour cream and something green, be it coriander, spinach, or crisp iceberg lettuce. Now that’s a meal my children LOVE.

Both of those meals tend to leave me with left overs, so what better meal to turn the remainder chicken into than soup!

An easy option for soup using the leftovers: Cook diced celery and carrot slowly till soft, add vegetable or chicken stock, add a large spoon of the pulled chicken – beans and sauce included – and possibly some more tinned tomatoes, simmer it gently, eat it lovingly.

 

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Don’t be daunted here, you prepare pulled chicken in much the same way as you prepare pulled pork, pulled beef, and pulled lamb. The simple method of using two forks to gently pull apart the tender meat is effortless when the meat has been cooked long and slow.

Here, whole chicken thigh fillets are braised in a Mexican flavoured sauce of tomatoes, spices, and chipotle chilli, and finished with grated chocolate, in much the same way as Mexican mole would be (but far easier). The chicken is then ‘pulled’ before going back in the sauce.

Although the amount of  chocolate used is small it must be of a high cocoa content – the sweet stuff won’t do. I use chocolate made with 70% cocoa beans. The sauce takes on a richer taste with a subtle earthiness that matches gracefully with the black beans.

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Mexican pulled chicken with black beans and chipotle 

Ingredients 

700g free range chicken thigh fillet 

2 medium brown onions, sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 cup chicken stock

2 chipotle chillies in adobo sauce, chopped – see note

400g can whole peeled tomatoes

2 tbsp grated 70% cocoa chocolate

1/2 tbsp brown sugar

400g can black beans, drained and rinsed

Olive oil

To serve

Steamed rice ( black, brown or white)

Mashed avocado

sour cream

chopped coriander 

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1tbsp of olive oil in a heavy based pan with tight fitting lid, seal the chicken till lightly coloured on all sides.  Remove chicken and set aside.

Using the same pan (no need to wash it) heat another tbsp oil and cook the onions and garlic gently for 3 minutes. Add the oregano, cumin and cinnamon and stir till fragrant.

Place the chicken back in the pan, add the stock and chipotle chillies, and squeeze the tomatoes to break apart before adding to the sauce. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid, turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

Remove the chicken and place in a flat tray. Using two forks pull the chicken into thin strips. Set aside.

Meanwhile, place the sauce back on the heat, add the chocolate, sugar and black beans and simmer for 15 minutes.

Place the pulled chicken back in the sauce, check the seasoning and serve with rice, avocado, chopped coriander and sour cream.

Note: Chipotle chillies in adobo sauce can be found in most green grocers, some Asian stores, delicatessens, or even order them on line. Once opened, store them in a air tight container in the fridge and use within three weeks. or try them in this great relish .

 

 

 

Chicken, Ginger And Udon Noodle Broth

DSC_0211One of my favourite smells in the kitchen, the one that brings feelings of comfort and nourishment, and a guarantee of food that can be shared, is a pot of chicken soup as it gently simmers on the stove top.

This chicken soup is one of a sweet nature. The combination of sweet and salty soy sauce flavours the broth and gives it its rich dark colouring. There is fresh ginger, kaffir lime, chilli and cardamon added, and by the time the broth is ready the flavours are complex and layered.

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If there is one piece of advice to follow, be it this: Start with a quality free-range chicken. This will give your broth the best flavour it deserves. That flavour leaches out into the broth permeating the stock with goodness and as well as the flesh of the chicken, once shredded being of a greater quality remaining soft and succulent.

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It’s imperative that the noodles are cooked to order. The udon noodles I buy are portioned into 90g serves, which is the perfect size for one person. If there’s two, use two portions, and so on…

The remaining broth can be stored for several days. You heat it and cook more noodles as required. The broth also freezes well so portion it up and keep it frozen for those days you need nourishing and comforting.

 

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Chicken ginger and udon noodle broth 

Ingredients 

1.6kg free range chicken

2 brown onions, quartered

2 carrots, chopped

2 large sticks celery, chopped

5cm piece of ginger, sliced

4 cloves garlic, smashed

4 kaffir lime leaves

1 chilli, split down the middle

1 bunch of coriander root and stem

6 cardamon pods

10 black peppercorns

1/3 cup sweet soy sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 litres water

To serve

Udon noodles (allow 90g per person)

Picked coriander leaves

Sliced green spring onions

Baby spinach leaves, or any Asian green vegetable

Wedges lime

Hot chilli sauce

Chinese red vinegar

Place the chicken in a large pot, add the onions, carrot, celery, ginger, garlic, kaffir lime, chilli, coriander root, cardamon pods, black peppercorns and both the soy sauces. Add 3 litres of cold water, bring to the boil, turn down the heat, skim off any impurities that rise to the top and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

Turn off the heat and stand chicken in the broth for another 15 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside on a tray. Once cool enough to handle, discard the skin and shred chicken into thin strips. Discard the bones, set chicken aside.

Strain the broth into a medium sized pan, press the vegetables into the strainer to squeeze all the flavour from the cooked veg, discard the vegetables. Skim off any excess fat and taste for seasoning.

Mix together a 50/50 ratio of Chinese red vinegar and hot chilli sauce.

To serve, cook the udon noodles in plenty of boiling water to packet instructions, drain and divide noodles between bowls.

Heat the amount of broth required, once it comes to the boil add some shredded chicken back into the broth and ladle over the hot noodles. Garnish with spinach, coriander leaves and green onions. Spoon over some hot chilli and vinegar sauce, squeeze a wedge of fresh lime on top and eat immediately.

Asparagus and rocket penne – for two

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A number of years ago I worked in a cafe in  Surry Hills, called Lumiere. The kitchen was smaller than my bathroom, yet we churned out great food and made almost everything from scratch. This chicken and asparagus rocket pasta always featured during the months of spring, when asparagus was in season, and rocket was plentiful.  The rocket adds it’s signature peppery taste to the pasta and the parmesan and lemon juice join together to balance that peppery taste and give the dish a sharp edge.

 

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Making the rocket oil is simple. It’s similar to a pesto but cheaper to make as you leave out the pine-nuts, which can prove pricy. Lemon juice is essential in the oil as is salt. And as the lemon juice will oxidise the vibrant green colour of the rocket, it’s best to make it as close to serving time as possible. Or if you want to prepare the rocket oil ahead of time, leave the lemon juice out, and add it to the oil just before tossing through the hot pasta.

As asparagus is a spring time vegetable, only buy it when it’s in season to make sure you’re not buying a vegetable that’s been shipped from the other side of the world.

 

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And two of the most important tips to live by when cooking pasta are: use a quality pasta – the cheapest is often the worst, and only ever cook it to al dente – this might mean standing over the pot and continually checking the done ness, but it will be worth it in the end as over-cooked pasta is horrible and must be avoided at all costs.

I often make this pasta dish without the chicken –  frozen peas are good, use half a cup- these can be added with the asparagus and boiled for one minute,

or: half a punnet of cherry tomatoes – halved and lightly sautéed in extra virgin oil for 2 minutes before adding the white wine. Yum,yum!

 

Asparagus and rocket pasta with chicken and lemon

Ingredients

250g free range chicken breast, diced

1 lemon

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup white wine

1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 2cm lengths

1 bunch rocket, washed, picked and chopped

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus extra for garnishing

1 1/2 cups wholemeal penne, or any other quality pasta

Place a medium pot of water on to boil. Place the chicken in a small bowl, add the zest of 1 lemon, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 grated clove of garlic, salt and pepper, set aside for 10 minutes. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large fry pan, add chicken, cook on a low-medium heat so as to not burn the garlic. Once chicken is almost cooked add white wine and simmer for 1 minute. Turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, cook pasta to al dente. One minute before draining pasta, add asparagus and boil for 1 minute then drain.

To make the rocket pesto  (do this whilst pasta is cooking- it’s all about timing), place rocket, 1 grated clove garlic, juice of one lemon,parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and extra virgin olive oil in a food processor, blitz till smooth.

Add the drained pasta and asparagus to the fry pan with chicken (off the heat), add rocket pesto, salt and pepper, toss or stir till well coated, divide between two bowls, garnish with extra parmesan cheese and eat immediately.

Chermoula Roasted Chicken

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I first tasted the delicious flavours of chermoula in a sea side town in Morocco. The restaurant I dined in served a fish tagine that was laden with the zesty, herb flavoured marinade.  I loved it.

When I returned home, I was obsessed with making chermoula. I began preserving my own lemons and whizzing up a batch of this North African marinade each time guests were coming for dinner.

Back then, I often cooked vegetables with chermoula . I’d combine root vegetables – swede, carrot, turnip – with capsicum and chickpeas and toss the whole lot with chermoula. They would then simmer gently in a tagine with a little vegetable stock.

But this is the story of chicken… And how to roast a Moroccan flavoured chicken. So for the chermoula…

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The all-important ingredient for chermoula is preserved lemons. They are dead simple to preserve yourself, click HERE for the recipe.

You can buy preserved lemons, and for some that might be preferred. But they tend to be expensive for a meagre amount. The jar I stuffed with lemons and set aside to preserve a few weeks back are ready to use.

Once you have your preserved lemons, the paste is straight forward – garlic, chilli, parsley, coriander stem, cumin, smoked paprika, saffron, and oil. I like to use a mortar and pestle to make my paste, i find it therapeutic,  but for the time-poor, a food processor is quick and easy.

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I use the Portuguese technique for roasting my chicken – cut it down the back bone and roast it flat. A sharp pair of kitchen scissors will do the job, yet if this sounds too hard, ask your butcher to do it for you.

Cooking the chicken this way keeps the breast moist and succulent.

Once the chicken is coated with chermoula, under the skin and on top, the marinade needs time to work its magic. I recommend marinating over night, but if you really can’t wait, or have left the menu planning to the last minute, 4 hours marinating will be sufficient.

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The juices from the tray make an excellent sauce, and a bowl of couscous is the perfect accompaniment.

Chermoula roasted chicken

Ingredients

1 x free range chicken

1 x fresh lemon, sliced into rounds

For the chermoula

pinch of saffron threads

1 preserved lemon

½ cup roughly chopped parsley, plus extra for garnishing

¼ cup chopped coriander stems

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 large red chilli, de seeded and chopped

2 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp hot smoked paprika

1 tsp sea salt

large pinch cracked black pepper

50ml grape seed oil, or pure olive oil

Place saffron in a small bowl with 1 tbsp boiling water, set aside to soak for 5 minutes.

Cut the preserved lemon in quarters; use a sharp knife to cut away the pulp and white pith, discard. Slice the rind into a rough dice.

Place all ingredients for chermoula except saffron and oil into a mortar and pestle, pound and grind till mix resembles a paste (about 5 minutes) – there will still be some chunks of preserved lemon.  If using a food processor blitz till well combined. Add saffron soaked water and oil, and stir till combined.

Cut the chicken down the back bone using a sharp pair of kitchen scissors and press firmly on the back to flatten the chook, or ask your butcher to do this.  Lay the cut rounds of fresh lemon in a baking tray and place the chicken, skin side up, on top of the lemons.

Place your fingers under the skin of the chicken taking care not to rip the skin.  Create a pocket between the flesh and the skin by gently separating the skin from the flesh.  Do this on the leg pieces as well. Take half the marinade and rub it under the skin, smoother as much of the flesh with the marinade as you can. Take the remaining marinade and rub the out side of the chicken. Marinate overnight, or if you’re in a hurry for at least 4 hours.

 

Remove chicken from refrigerator half an hour before cooking.  Sprinkle chicken generously with sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Pre heat oven to 200C,  or 180C fan forced. Roast chicken for 1 hour, baste with juices half way through. Remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes before cutting chicken into pieces. Skim the fat off the juices left in the cooking pan and spoon the juices over chicken. Serve with couscous and chopped fresh parsley.

 

Fast couscous – serves 4

Ingredients

1 cup couscous

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 cup boiling vegetable stock

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Place cous cous in a medium bowl, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with boiling stock, stir, and stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.