12 July 2011

Chicken, bacon, chicken & prawns, chicken, pork, chicken twice over : Looks like it's chicken, this week!

I do seem to have gone a bit mad on the chicken in this week's Menu Plan, but that's just the way it happened.  ~shrug~  I suspect that it's part and parcel of trying to think of meals that aren't too "bad for you".  Inevitably, you wind up with an awful lot of chicken - especially as fish has rocketed in price just lately.

Now, to finish off last week - we had the Chicken, Fennel & Tomato Ragu on Sunday evening, which had a mixed reception.  A third of the way into making the dish, hubby announced that he's never found a chicken/tomato recipe that he's really enjoyed - and although he loves fennel, he wasn't sure how it would all come together.  Well, he was right in a lot of ways - although just after suffering from food poisoning wasn't perhaps the best time to try this recipe out!

Just cutting up the chicken had me wishing we'd had sausages for that meal instead, but I soldiered on.  Incidentally, I've discovered that when cutting up ingredients that are fresh from the fridge, they have the capacity to make my hands lose sensation.  You can't imagine how difficult it is to chop up chicken breasts when you can't hold the darned things still!  I've still got all my fingers though, so my strategy of dunking my hands in warm water to thaw them out, obviously worked.

The dish was nice enough - the fennel was lovely and made a very pleasant change.  Having been a bit acidic, the addition of a teaspoon of sugar helped to iron that out.  However, "okay" wasn't really what I was going for with it, regrettably.

Incidentally, the Maribell jacket potatoes were gorgeous.  Rub them with olive oil, cover with salt and pepper and roast in a hot oven for an hour - fabulous!

Now then, what different incarnations of chicken are we having for this week's menu plan?  I hear you ask.  Well, maybe you didn't, but I'm going to tell you anyway.  Here's how it shapes up :

Tuesday : Pesto chicken with roast tomatoes and couscous
Wednesday : New Potato Salad with Bacon & Goats' Cheese
Thursday : Spanish Paella-inspired ricey thing
Friday : Sticky chinese chicken & thai carrot salad
Saturday : Pork with lemongrass & cinnamon, with rice (from Adora's Box)
Sunday : Pot roast chicken, roast parsnips & potatoes, broccoli & peas
with sausagemeat stuffing balls
Monday : Coronation chicken, pitta bread and salad.

<insert short break to collect a glass of Canti Zinfandel Rose>

Now, where was I?  ~sips daintily~  Ah yes!  The Pesto Chicken.

It being Tuesday, we've done the shopping and so begins a new week of striving to produce delicious dinners that don't cost the earth, that everyone enjoys and (no point in lying) that will be interesting to blog about.

I must just recount what happened to us today though.  Hubby will probably have my hide for telling you this, but part-way through the shopping, I went back to the herbs aisle to see if some Basil had been put out as there wasn't any on our first pass.  As I turned around to go catch up with hubby, I saw an unaccompanied trolley that looked to have inside it everything that we'd selected earlier.  "How funny!" I thought.  Can't be OUR trolley, because hubby's driving that further up the shop - so I didn't say anything about it.  Fast forward to hubby loading the shopping into the car and looking for the sausage rolls he'd bought.  He came to the conclusion that he must have left a bag of shopping behind, but couldn't believe he could have done so, so we didn't go back to check.  Upon getting home and emptying out all the bags, he discovered that a whole bagful was missing.  "It's got the ham, the fruit fools, the cheese spread, the greek yoghurt ...." he was saying, when I got a flashback to that trolley I saw.  Sure enough, he'd made off with someone else's trolley (which had to be empty at the time, as we didn't have any odd shopping), leaving ours to sit - where I spotted it on my trip back for the Basil!  How much do I wish I'd have said about it?  It would have saved another trip (to Sainsbury's, this time) for shopping!  Still, it's quite funny, all the same.

So, after seemingly shopping all day, I made the Pesto Chicken and couscous.  My hand problem made stuffing the chicken breasts with the squidgy pesto/mascarpone mixture nigh on impossible, but at least some of it got in there!  I am so going to have to get a piping set!  It's a really lovely dish, this one, in that the chicken stays beautifully moist and the roast tomatoes are just divine.  The couscous was made after the style of Ottolenghi's Green Couscous, but to my own recipe this time.  I used all Italian flavourings, like basil, grana padano cheese and pine nuts along with sliced onion & mushroom fried in a little olive oil.  Add a squeeze of lemon just before serving and everyone approved.  Well, except for son & heir's hate of the humble mushroom.  He was able to remove his mushrooms fairly easily though.

Watch the blog, as I'll be detailing the recipe as my next blog post.

I'm really quite excited about tomorrow's salad, as it was created with the help of four or five Twitter pals, whose suggestions for "a salad that doesn't involve salad leaves" came together in the dish I'll be making on Wednesday.

It's going to involve Jersey Royal new potatoes - but roasted, not boiled.  Some gorgeous butcher's bacon grilled until crispy, mushrooms, roasted red onion and watercress & spinach salad (neither of which count as a "salad leaf", alright?), all dressed in a mustard & red wine dressing, with creamy goat's cheese crumbled over the top.  I can't wait!

Hubby has a recipe in mind for Thursday, which involves something along the lines of a Spanish Paella, except with just chicken and prawns.  You know when you have a picture in your mind and a flavour on your tongue, but you can't quite put it into words?  Well that's it.  We'll just have to wait and see what turns up at the end of it - but it should be good, as we've even invested in some saffron!

Oooh dear, then it's Friday.  ~quake~quiver~  I'm skeered of Friday, because Alfie the Amalfi Lemon Coloured Skoda goes in for his MOT.  I may very easily not have any fingernails left, after this day.  Nor any cash left in my bank account.  However, I will be having a lovely dinner - consisting of yummy Sticky Chinese chicken with a lovely Thai carrot salad, which involves rice noodles and peanuts.  Yum!

Photo c/o BBC Good Food website
The chicken is simplicity itself to make - I just need to remember to make it early so that it can marinade.  The salad is just a matter of grating a whole heap of carrots, soaking the rice noodles and assembling the rest of the ingredients.  I should be able to do that, even with a diabolical stress headache - which I anticipate being the owner of, by then.

Still, the happy news is that by Saturday it will all be over and we'll know where we stand regarding the work that Alfie needs to have done - and more to the point, how much it's going to cost!

To celebrate, I'm planning on making use of the lovely Adora's Box blog, where her Pork with Lemongrass and Cinnamon has caught my eye.  You can find the recipe here.  Looks good, doesn't it?  I'll let you know how I get on with it!

I've stayed away from roast dinners for quite some time now, and this coming Sunday we'll be having a pot roast chicken for two reasons.  One, because I am missing roast chicken, two, because I'm missing roast parsnips and three, because we can have Coronation chicken for tea on Monday!

Son & heir adores Coronation chicken and I have to admit that I'm a sucker for it myself.  Hubby isn't quite so enamoured of it, but I'm hoping that if I make sure that the pitta breads are more manageable than the usual "resembling a bus crash" that I usually turn out, he might look upon the whole experience in a more favourable light.  In fact, thinking on, I could always make them into Coronation chicken wraps, instead!  Still a bit messy and squidgy, but at least they're capable of being eaten with a knife and fork!  Do you know, I may well do that.




  1. Mmmm, all looks scrummy (as per). I love the idea of the pesto stuffed chicken - may well have to try that in the near future.


  2. Lovely menu Jenny.....I'll be round Sun and Monday.....! :).
    Chicken....All the things you can do with chicken, (sorry, can't spell versatile)!
    I would like top say though, if anyone gets a chance, buy a chicken, 'on the hoof' so to speak.
    Feathers and all. Takes a little time, but, pluck it, draw it.....But, leave the feet and head/neck on it. Don't stuff it, l never stuff any of my birds....(Must be a joke there somewhere):). Anyway....
    All l put into a bird are diced carrots, onions, and leeks. Loosely. Rub the chicken with butter/oil if you choose to, few herbs say....Then roast....You will never taste a better cooked bird anyplace....Put money on it!
    Plain and simple....Again, just like us Sicilians.....! LOL.

    Lemon tea for me.....!

    And, look out for Carluccio on channel 249. Been on a couple times this week. Hour long, and he's in Sicily, combining cooking with a book printed in 1958. Il Gattopardo...The Leopard. Also made into a film in 1963, with Burt Lancaster. Story of a prince, and of course Garibaldi. Did you know the biscuit is not known in Italy. It was made by PeekFreens in 1864, when Garabaldi, came to this country on a visit. The book was a best seller...!
    And, published posthumously, when Giuseppe Tomasi died...! Great read....!

  3. This looks like quite the tasty menu! We too have been sticking to chicken lately, but even that is going up in price here in the States. It's ridiculous and at the point where it's as expensive as beef or pork. Sigh... But with your pesto chicken looking so good, doesn't look like we will be abandoning the bird anytime soon.
    PS - Just subscribed. Love the blog :)

  4. Seren : I'll be blogging the recipe in just a moment. It really is the loveliest thing to do with a chicken breast. :)

    Willie : I can tell you, quite categorically, that if you think I'm EVER getting hold of a chicken feathers and all, and doing all the yukky bits, then you're so far wrong. LOL I'd quite like to eat my chicken - and doing the cleaning of it would definitely render me vegetarian. LOL

    Chris : Hiya! I love your blog, too, and have subscribed. :) It's certainly a worry, how the price of food is climbing. Seems as though the days of growing food at home are going to become essential, rather than a matter of choice.

  5. The pork industry defends horrendous cruelty to animals -- factory farmers keep breeding pigs locked in two-foot-wide crates where the pigs can’t even turn around for nearly their entire lives. Eight states have passed laws against this type of animal abuse, yet groups like the National Pork Producers Council still support it.

    More info at this link: http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2010/12/smithfield_pigs_121510.html

  6. This is why I try - wherever possible - to purchase meat which I know is humanely produced and locally sourced.


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