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Delicious Coconut Lime Chicken

While those of you stuck in the northern hemisphere are preparing all sorts of comforting, warming treats for your cold Christmas season, those of us down south are sweltering and on the hunt for light and refreshing meals. I am absolutely missing the cold and misery and snow that makes Christmas so wonderful. A hot and summery Christmas just seems so wrong somehow, even though I spent 26 years growing up in South Africa with hot Christmas days. My six years in the UK taught me one thing. Christmas is MADE for cold weather! All those lovely warm wintery spices…..yummy! They just don’t work quite as well in summer. And while I’m resigning myself to a truly lovely Christmas day spent having a fresh fish barbecue on the beach, my heart will really be with friends and family thousands of miles north and 12+ hours behind us, enjoying a truly festive meal. Enjoy it everyone, I will be wishing I could join you all!

But back to the truly dreadful weather down here in Auckland. Its been an absolutely perfect 21-24 degrees with nary a drop of rain ALL week. Its been quite depressing stuck in the office on these perfect days, but thankfully the weekend is here again. I will be making an excuse to work a few days a week from our office on the north shore over the next few weeks, just so that I can enjoy the sea view and lunchtime beach runs on offer there. I feel like a total slob when I work there. Virtually all of my colleagues based in the enviable beach office run/walk/cycle or kayak in to work. Then they all go for a lunchtime run, followed by a 500m swim out to the bouy in the bay and back again. Then its a race up the two flights of stairs to nab the shower with the best water pressure and back to the grindstone. What an awful place to work. I don’t know how I cope at times!

Needless to say, such exertions require some calories, and one of my favourite summertime dinners is this sublime coconut and lime chicken. Its essentially a mild thai curry and really delicious. You can add loads of veggies, and serve on rice, couscous or quinoa. It works particularly well with sweet peppers or brocolli. You can use chicken breast, but this is absolutely heavenly (and unfortunately marginally less fabulous for the waistline) made with boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I searched Pinterest (as you do) for the perfect recipe, and although I kept finding some fabulous PHOTOS of this dish, nobody seemed to have the smarts to post a link to the actual blog! Much searching later, I found the original coconut lime chicken recipe, and what a fabulous recipe it is too. Don’t read the My Kitchen Escapades Blog too much, because you’ll never leave your kitchen, her recipes are amazing! ūüėČ

Coconut Lime chickenIf you have the time, leave this to marinade overnight and take the time to really reduce the sauce by simmering gently until you get a lovely thick, oozy curry sauce. That said, its also delicious with an hour of marinading and is ready to eat before your rice has a chance of cooking.

Ingredients (To serve 2 adults and 2 smallish kids):

  • 8-10 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 standard tin of coconut milk
  • 2 limes
  • 1 and half teaspoons of ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons reduced salt soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mild curry powder (I use garam masala)
  • A pinch of smoked paprika
  • 1 red chili, chopped
  • a big handful of fresh coriander leaves (cilantro for those of you in the USofA)
  • Chopped/sliced veggies of choice.

Method:

  1. Chop the chicken thighs into 3 or 4 pieces each
  2. In a large Tupperware with a tight sealing lid mix the coconut milk, the zest and juice from one of the limes, the coriander, soy sauce, sugar, curry, paprika and chili
  3. Add the chicken pieces, seal the Tupperware and give it a good shake. Leave for anything from an hour to a day IN THE FRIDGE, shaking when you can. The longer this marinades, the better, although obviously don’t leave it so long that it goes all dodgy. Don’t be like a friend who left this on the counter all day on a 35 degree C day (that’s like 98 in F I think). She wondered why it smelt a bit dodgy afterwards. Hmmmm.
  4. When you’re starting to get hungry, get your rice on the go, oil and heat up your grill pan to medium. Drain the chicken pieces, retaining the coconut sauce.
  5. Grill those chicken pieces, adding the veggies when they’re virtually done. Saute the veggies for a minute, then add the coconut sauce to the grill pan and simmer until the sauce thickens up a bit. Season to taste.
  6. To serve, spoon over the rice, and THE most important part, squeeze over some fresh lime juice from the remaining lime and add lots and lots of fresh coriander leaves. Sublime. Best enjoyed al fresco with some chilled white wine.

Just a note here, you can add as much or as little chili as you like. I leave it out entirely for some people who don’t like spicy food and add loads extra when serving for my hubby who enjoys his “Thai Hot!”

 


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Honey and mustard chicken with tarragon

WOW, over a month since my last post!!! Huge apologies everyone. To be honest, I’ve been struggling to find the time to even cook, never mind photograph my meals and write about them.

Our household has been incredibly busy and¬†topsy-turvy¬†this last month. Just before Christmas, our visa for New Zealand was approved and we decided to pack up and go as quickly as was humanely possible. We are off in less than a month now, and still need to clean all our camping gear, road bikes, hiking boots, get rid of clutter and prepare the house for the packers who arrive in just 2 weeks today…AARRGGHHHH!!!! After that, we are heading over to France on a road trip to visit friends and enjoy a last week of European skiing. I can’t wait. I’m absolutely rubbish at skiing, but I enjoy every second of it. Fortunately after years of face plants onto tarmac while wearing skates in my youth and from the back of a horse over jumps (onto grass luckily) I have a disturbing lack of fear of falling onto snow or ice, which probably helps a little.

My most exciting kitchen news was that…………………..(no, sorry no Kitchen Aid stand mixer, yet)……………….I finally finally got a couple of Le Creuset enamelled cast iron pots. My beloved deep, slope sided frying pan (its not really a wok) finally gave up the ghost after 6 years of loyal, almost daily use. It wasn’t the fanciest pan to begin with and has been heavily abused by me and a number of house guests over the years. I decided to replace it with something a little more exciting (and pretty) and persuaded my long suffering spouse that I want NEED cast iron of the enamelled kind. He nearly baulked at the price, but I was very persuasive. I am now the proud owner of a Le Creuset large shallow casserole, and large oval deep casserole pot. Needless to say I spent many days in discussion with my trusted chefy friend L making my selection.

SnowTo christen the shallow casserole, to provide some comfort from the recent snow, and as a stress relief from all the packing I made some roasted honey and mustard chicken pieces with tarragon. The tarragon is optional, but I like how just a little breaks the honey mustard taste a little. I added some veg to mine, and we ate it served with rice. It will work just as well with mashed potato, or couscous though. You can use smooth mustard of any variety (I recommend against the radioactive yellow American style hotdog mustard though, sorry USA bloggers), but whole grain is fabulous. If you are in the UK, DO try this with Tracklement’s Beer Mustard. You will love me (and them) forever.

Honey Mustard ChickenIngredients (serves 2 adults and 2 hungry kids):

One onion, finely chopped

6 crushed/chopped garlic cloves

A large heaped tablespoon of whole grain mustard.

Two tablespoons of runny honey

4-6 chicken leg/thigh pieces, skin and bone intact

2 cups of assorted chopped veg (I used diced carrot and courgette)

Pinch of dried tarragon (or a teaspoon of finely chopped fresh will be great)

Half cup of boiling water.

Method:

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C

Saute the onion in an oven proof pot, before covering and leaving to sweat gently for 10 minutes until soft.

While the onion is sweating, mix the honey, mustard and tarragon together, and use it to coat the chicken pieces.

Add the garlic to the onion and lightly cook a little more.

Remove the onion/garlic from the pan, turn up the heat and brown those chicken pieces. They don’t need much because you will be using the oven to crisp them up later.

Return the onion and garlic to the pan, add your veg and boiling water.

Put the lid tightly onto the pot, and place in the oven and cook slowly for an hour.

Remove the lid, turn the chicken pieces so they are all skin side up and cook for a further 15 minutes in the oven so that the chicken skin can brown up. This is really easy thanks to the sugar in the honey.

The chicken meat should be moist and tender thanks to the hour of slow steaming in the lidded pot, and you still get the crisp skin, double bonus!

Enjoy served with whatever you like.

 


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Fortnightly meal challenge #2: Apricot Glazed Chicken

 

I seem to be stuck on chicken dishes at the moment. Once I’ve resigned myself to properly cold and wintery weather I’ll start getting more into red meats.

For my second meal challenge, I decided to try something quick but delicious with my chicken pieces that my kids would also enjoy. Apricot and chicken is a match made in heaven and I remember eating loads of different combinations of the two as a child. Apricot casseroled in apricot juice, or with whole apricots was pretty typical. The glaze for this chicken includes mayonnaise, and usually onion soup mix, which I opted to forgo as it tends to be laden with salt. The sugar in the jam will cause the skin to blacken, just keep an eye on things to ensure it doesn’t actually burn, particularly if your oven runs quite hot, like mine.

The spouse demolished his, and had seconds. The toddler demolished his and had seconds too! The baby spent ages sucking away on her big strip of chicken and cried when it was finished! I didn’t have seconds, but would have if I’d had the space. That’s what you get for sneaking in a pre dinner cookie!

Ingredients:

Chicken pieces with skin on (I used drumsticks and thighs, but any will do. You could also do this with skinless chicken pieces)

Smooth apricot jam

Mayonnaise

To coat 6 drumsticks and 4 thighs I used 3 large tablespoons each of the jam and mayonnaise

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C

Mix your mayonnaise and jam together

Place your chicken pieces into an oven proof dish. I like to get them slightly spaced apart rather than tightly packed to ensure they get nice and sticky all the way around. Make sure they are placed yucky side up, then smear half the jam mix onto your chicken. Cover with foil and bake for roughly 30 minutes. Turn the pieces over so they’re nice (skin) side up and coat with the remaining jam mix before baking for a further 20 minutes uncovered.

I also removed the chicken from the roasting pan and deglazed it with some boiling water and reduced it for a sauce.

We served ours with brown rice, peas and steamed green beans. Not particularly exciting, but child friendly. They would also be lovely served with a warm lentil salad. Nom nom nom,

 


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Fortnightly meal challenge #1: Sage and Clementine Roast Chicken

So my first new meal challenge is done and dusted, hooray! Judging by the scraping of plates towards the end of the meal, it was a success. Baby K was so excited by her first taste of roast chicken that she nearly bounced out of her chair. And our toddler has morphed into Oliver, with not one, not two, but THREE requests for, “More please!” It was really tasty. The flavours weren’t¬†phenomenally¬†strong, but subtly different from an ordinary roast chicken. The sage and clementine work really well together. I would definitely make this again.

As with most roast chicken dishes, this one was fairly easy, going straight into the oven once prepared with no maintenance necessary allowing me to get on with other things.

Inspired by the original recipe made with chicken pieces here, this version, using a whole chicken was pretty easy.

You will need:

1 chicken. I can really recommend getting a good organic, corn fed, free range chook. Cheap chooks aren’t great except maybe as stock.

A couple of clementines

A bunch of fresh sage leaves

olive oil (or butter if you prefer), salt and pepper.

Gently pull the breast skin away from the meat. You should be able to form a pocket between the skin and the breast meat on either side by pushing a finger under the skin and gently breaking the connective tissue. Shove a sage leaf and a clementine slice into each pocket you’ve made. If you’re using butter you can wedge a good knob of it under the skin too.

Put some more sage leaves and a few clementine halves inside the chicken.

I made a dressing of around 6 tablespoons of olive oil, the juice of one clementine, a tablespoon of chopped sage and salt and pepper to taste which I used to coat the chicken before it went into the oven.

Roast at 220 degrees Celsius (430F for the western hemisphere readers) for roughly an hour until the thigh juices run clear. The timing will vary wildly depending on the size of your bird.

Once done, cover will foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes while you plate up your veg.

We had this with roasted peppers, courgettes, onions and cherry tomatoes with a mash made from parsnip, sweet potato and swede. My favourite autumnal mash.