Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Slow cooking - Moroccan chicken

Last week I picked up a slow cooker in Aldi (€17.99, they may still have some). After a considerable amount of wondering where on earth Id put it, I decided that smack bang in the middle of my countertop would do for now and Ill just have to use it often to argue for its place there. I figured the benefit of having dinner ready when I get home from work might outweigh the fact that in future I may have to balance it precariously on top of my books on my bookshelf.

Shiny new slow cooker at 8am before heading to work
Unfortunately once I got it I couldn't find any recipes that I was dying to try out that weren't on US sites and I was definitely far too lazy for proper conversion and measuring. As a result here is a very made up attempt at Moroccan chicken, which was very very tasty.

The four things I read about the slow cooker were completely ignored so Ill give them to you before I get to the recipe.
  1. You don't need very much liquid in slow cooking as it really wont evaporate (you will see later that I used far too much liquid so my recipe has about 1/4 the water that I used)
  2. 3 hours in an oven = 8-9 hours at low heat in slow cooker (perfect working hours)
  3. Its almost impossible to burn your dinner in a slow cooker if its on low - this is good to remember half way through the day when you get a little worried about those lovely lamb shanks you bought
  4. Root veg takes as long to cook as meat, in my case below the courgette were definitely a bit overcooked.

(possibly) Moroccan chicken - for two
Possibly only because its way tastier than anything I had to eat when I visited Morocco

I was told it never burns - this is caramelising

  • 2 Chicken legs and thighs chopped into strips
  • 1 onion chopped into 8 chunks (halve, then quarter the halves)
  • Half a courgette chopped into inch sized chunks
  • 1 sweet red pepper chopped into inch sized chunks
  • 4 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 grated clove of garlic
  • 1 dessert spoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • a handful of raisins and some dried apricots if you have them
  • 50 ml of chicken stock (homemade if possible)
Ok, I know this seems like a million ingredients but if you chop them all up and put them into a bowl the night before then you only have to bung them in the slow cooker (on low heat) in the morning and when you come home from work you have a tasty dinner.I served this with some couscous but it would be equally good with rice, Bulgar or quinoa.

very hot Moroccan chicken
It made a lovely dinner but I still don't know where I'm going to put it. If anyone has any good slow cooker recipes Id very grateful, it might help get to convince the workman to build me a new shelf!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Broad bean and bacon risotto

I was always shocked at the price of broad beans until I tried growing them. They are actually quite easy to grow but you really need a whole lot of space to grow enough for even one dinner. Its a pity really as they are so fantastic and even more so when you can pick them and eat them straight away.

Id definitely recommend trying to grow broad beans if you have some space in your garden. I planted them a little too early but they still seemed to survive the frost and pop through, weeks after I was expecting them to come up.

If I had been able to give up enough of my garden I would have made a big bowl of Habas con Jamon (beans with bacon) as I used to get in tapas bars when in Granada last year but its surprising how much space is needed to grow broad beans. Broad bean and bacon risotto was the next best option. 

If you haven't made risotto before its really not as scary as people say, just make sure you have enough stock simmering and that you don't let the rice go dry while cooking. 

Broad bean and bacon risotto (serves 2, one of whom has a giant appetite)

- about 200g of single podded broad beans (double pod if you are less lazy)
- 2 rashers
- 750mls of veg stock
- one glass of white wine
- a finely chopped onion
- 1 finely chopped clove of garlic
- 25g of butter
- 200g risotto (arborio) rice
- 30g parmesan

Bring the stock  to the boil and then add the broad beans and boil for a few minutes until tender. Remove the beans and leave the stock to simmer. Its way easier to remove the second little pod at this stage if you want to leave you with fantastically Kermit the frog coloured beans

Heat the butter on a medium heat and add the onions and chopped bacon and fry until soft but not yet coloured, something like the picture below.

Add the rice and stir for about a minute until the rice is starting to go slightly clear at the edges. 

Throw in the glass of wine and let it bubble away until the wine is almost soaked up. 

Then add your first ladle of stock. Again, stir a little and let it bubble until almost evaporated. Continue to do this until the rice has softened enough and stopped drinking up the stock as quickly. This should take about 20 minutes and the rice should still have a bit of a bite to it. Add the beans before you add the last of the stock to heat them through. 

Take the rice off the heat and add the parmesan and pepper, it shouldn't really need any salt but add if you think it does. Serve as quickly as you can!