21 February 2013

Allspice chicken and mango rice - suddenly, we're in the Caribbean!

I'm often drawn towards recipes for traybakes.  They always look so good, with beautifully golden roasted chicken pieces nestling amongst gorgeous roasted vegetables that have just begun to caramelise.  However, my efforts haven't always been successful in the traybake department.

As such, I was bearing this in mind when I found myself drawn towards the recipe for Mango chicken, bean & rice bake in the latest BBC Good Food magazine.  There were the golden roasted chicken pieces, as cosy as can be beside chunks of glowing mango, on a bed of fluffy rice and shiny red kidney beans.

Looking at the ingredients, they seemed to fit what we like - but in a different way to normal.  There were Indian curry ingredients there (chilli, coriander, ginger, onion, rice) with Caribbean influences (allspice, mango and kidney beans).  The recipe even called for lime - which as you know, I have quite a few of just at the moment!

After 30 mins cooking - all chutneyed up and ready to go back in!

I had a little word with hubby about whether he felt he could cope with chicken thighs in this instance.  He's a chicken breast man, ordinarily, you see.  I felt that the chicken thighs would give more flavour to the rice (as they sit on the rice to cook) than ever chicken breast would - plus thighs could cope better with the hour and a half they would be in the oven!  He wasn't convinced, but decided to take it like a man - and have a strategic sandwich afterwards if it all goes to worms.

Making the marinating mix was a breeze - a simple matter of chopping everything into bits and chucking it into the food processor, then whizzing, mixing and we're done for a day.

In fact, for all that the recipe is three main processes - marinating, 30 mins cooking then another 35-40 mins cooking, it really is incredibly easy to do.  Once again, it is a one-pot dish (unless, like me, you decide to add something like red cabbage & apple as a side dish - but that's up to you!) and they really are the easiest things in the world to make.

I have a couple of cook's notes for you though :

1.  If you can, following the 30 minutes cook under silver foil and before the next batch without the silver foil, remove the centre pieces of chicken and give the rice a bit of a stir there.  I found that at the very middle of my dish, the rice was still fairly under done and a bit of a stir at a judicious moment, would have solved that.

2.  If you have anyone who is - like hubby - a bit phobic about "globby bits", remove the skin from their chicken before marinating.  The skin is delicious eating - but not for certain people - and to remove it before serving will mean that they lose all the effects of the marination on the chicken, plus the mango chutney.

3.  Don't be tempted to put too much mango chutney onto the chicken.  I have reduced the amount to half a teaspoonful from a full teaspoonful, as it made the chicken rather too sweet.
So munchable!

4.  The marinade was full of flavour, but if you like the chilli heat do leave the seeds in.  I removed them from our chilli - and rather wished I hadn't by the end of it!

Hubby didn't have need of his emergency sandwich, he enjoyed the new combination of flavours and found the chicken agreeably tender (and free from the dreaded "globby bits", thanks to some careful trimming!).  He did make the comment - and I think he's quite right - in that pineapple would have been a good substitute for the mango.

Son and heir wasn't so keen on the clove-like allspice flavour that is prevalent all the way through the dish, but I think that is simply a matter of being unfamiliar with that particular flavour.  I really liked the dish and agreed, to some extent, with son & heir's lament about the allspice, so I have reduced it from one and a half teaspoonfuls to just the one teaspoonful, in acknowledgement of its dominance - which was a bit too much, I felt.  However, I really liked how sitting on top of the rice - initially in a stock bath - made the chicken incredibly tender.  It was literally falling off the bone.  Lovely!

Considering how differently this turned out to how I was expecting, it was a very interesting and remarkable dinner that is very well worth repeating.  I may well experiment with using chicken breast next time - and cook the rice in the oven without the chicken on board for the first half hour.  Interesting!  I'll let you know what happens.


Ingredients :

1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 tsp finely grated ginger
2 garlic cloves
1 red chilli, seeds removed if necessary, roughly chopped
small handful of coriander - including stalks - chopped roughly
2 tsp thyme leaves
zest and juice of 2 small limes
1 tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp sunflower oil
8-10 chicken thighs, skin left on but trimmed of fat
300g long grain rice
400g tin kidney beans, rinsed and drained
500ml chicken stock
1 ripe mango, peeled, stoned and cut into small cubes
150g mango chutney.

Method :

1.  Marinate the chicken up to a day, or as little as an hour, before you want to cook it, by putting the onion, ginger, garlic, red chilli, coriander, thyme, lime, allspice and oil into a food processor and blitzing until a paste has been formed.  Pour the paste onto the trimmed chicken thighs in a large bowl and mix until the chicken has been coated.  Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge to marinate.

2.  Heat your oven to 180degC/350degF/Gas4.

3.  Rinse the rice in a sieve under the cold water tap until the water runs clear.  Then place the rice into a large high sided flat baking dish (a lasagne dish is perfect).  Add the kidney beans and a pinch of salt and level out the surface.

4.  Remove the chicken from the marinade onto a plate and stir the stock into the remains of the marinade in the bowl.  Pour the stock over the rice and beans.

5.  Sprinkle the mango pieces onto the top of the rice mixture and place the chicken pieces on top again.

6.  Cover the dish with silver foil and bake for 30 minutes.

7.  Remove the foil from the dish and increase the oven temperate to 220degC/425degF/Gas 7.  Spoon a half a teaspoon of mango chutney onto each chicken piece and return the dish to the oven for a further 35-40 minutes to brown the chicken and cook the rice.

8.  Before serving, remove the chicken pieces and fluff up the rice with a fork.


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