Garlic Chicken and Leeks

I cooked chicken in garlic for dinner today, loosely based on a Nigel Slater recipe.

I slowly fried the chicken in butter and a little olive oil with 4 crushed garlic cloves. It took around 45 minutes to cook the chicken through and towards the end I added sliced leeks.

Whilst this was very nice I think there’s a risk of the garlic burning, due to the length of time it’s cooking in the butter and oil for, so next time I’ll add some white wine or stock.

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I adore home made chicken stock and love making it. As it simmers slowly the house is filled with its wonderful smell, making it feel happy and homely. Something wonderful begins to happen as the goodness and flavour from the chicken bones and vegetables seep into the water.

More often than not it doesn’t actually make it as stock in my house as I can’t resist having a bowlful just as it is. The soothing broth is heavenly and healing. I believe in its magic.

Chicken Stock or Broth

Chicken Stock

Remove any garlic, lemon, herbs, etc from the cavity of the chicken carcass and pull off any leftover meat, then put it into a large pot and just cover it with water.

Halve about 2 sticks of celery, 2 carrots, one large onion and one leek and add to the pot along with about 6 peppercorns, a bay leaf a handful of parsley, and a few sprigs of thyme if you have some to hand.

Bring to boil then very gently simmer on the lowest heat for about 2 hours. Remove any scum that comes to the surface during this time.

After 2 hours sieve the stock and taste it. You may need to reduce it down to concentrate the flavour, in which case pour it into another pan, bring it up to the boil and reduce it until you’re happy with the taste.

You’ll get somewhere between 500ml to a litre of stock out of one chicken.

If serving as broth season with salt before serving

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Mushrooms again!

I don’t often cook with mushrooms as Rob doesn’t like them – they are a treat just for me. The ones I bought at the farm shop were meaty and tasty and I made the most of them this week.

This was simple, quick and very, very satisfying.

Scrambled Eggs and Mushrooms on Toast PS

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Spaghetti Bolognese

Brown 500g of good quality lean beef (or even better a mixture of beef and pork) mince in a non-stick pan over a high heat until it forms a dark brown crust them remove it from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan sauté a handful of pancetta until it releases it fat, then add an onion, a stick of celery and a carrot, all finely chopped, and two crushed garlic cloves. Once the vegetables have softened and have taken on a little colour add the mince back to the pan.

Add a generous glass of red wine or even better, port (still using a wine glass full), a tin of chopped tomatoes, 1/4 litre of beef stock and a dash of Worcester sauce along with a little fresh thyme, a bay leaf, dried oregano and a good couple of tablespoons of tomato puree.

Bring to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer gently for a couple of hours, adding more water if the sauce starts to go dry.

Season to taste and serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and a glass of red wine. Serves 4

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Vine Tomatoes

One of my favourite soups is roasted garlic and tomato (the roasting deepens the tomato flavour) but when I have really good vine tomatoes I want to make the most of them with a fresh tasting soup like this one.

Sauté 2 or 3 chopped garlic cloves for a few minutes in a generous amount of good extra virgin olive oil.

Add quartered tomatoes and a little fresh thyme. Cook until the tomatoes start to break down, then blend until smooth.

Sieve the soup and season with salt. Heat through before serving.

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Pork Belly 1

We had a nice piece of pork belly for dinner tonight. Here’s what I cooked up.

Slow-Roasted Pork Belly

Try to buy a piece of pork belly with bones in for this dish, as they add to the flavour.

Score the skin or, preferably, get your butcher to do it for you. Ensure the skin is dry and sprinkle it with sea salt. Roast at about 230c (or as hot as your oven will go) for 30 minutes.

After this time remove the fat from the roasting tin and add 1/2 litre of chicken stock and 1/2 litre of water along with 1 onion, 2 leeks and 2 carrots – all roughly chopped, 1 bay leaf, some thyme, rosemary and 3 peeled garlic cloves. Make sure the liquid doesn’t cover the skin – that needs to stay dry. Turn the temperature down to 150c and cook for a further 2 – 2 1/2 hours. If the cracking isn’t as crispy as you would like towards the end of the cooking time, remove the juices and vegetables from the pan and set the juices aside, then turn the heat right up to crisp up the skin.

Serve with the juices from the pan, reducing them by simmering them on the hob if you prefer them a little thicker.

Pork Belly 2

Pork Belly 3

Pork Belly 4

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