The glaze we used was one of the Maggi range of "So Juicy" cook-in-a-bag products. In fact, it was really not bad at all. We tried the mixed herbs one, which seemed to have a significant amount of tomato in its mixed herbs, but with no artificial colours, flavourings or Aspartame in its ingredients, we were prepared to give it a go.
Owing to the cooking method, which involves your cooking the chicken sealed into a cook-in bag, the chicken comes out the other end enticingly moist and tender. I'd definitely give others of the same range a go.
As a fairly foolproof and easy way of obtaining a very acceptable chicken dish, I recommend it to you!
Now the big question was what to put with it. I'm always on the lookout for interesting and easy vegetable dishes that can be use as a side to a meat dish, for just these moments.
We had a number of meals planned that included potatoes already - and owing to hubby's antipathy towards the 'umble spud, I needed to find something else to use as the carbohydrate in this dish.
Hubby suggested vegetable rice, but son & heir isn't always terribly keen on that. As hubby was the one who was going to be cooking this meal, I suddenly hit on the idea of a risotto. Well, he is the Risotto Cooking King! I remembered that I had picked up a baked Risotto Primavera recipe from a magazine, but knew he wouldn't be struck on the idea of doing a baked risotto (being a newly crowned risotto purist, and all that). So we just used the recipe as a guide for the amounts and types of vegetables to use - and he made a straight, cooker top, in a saucepan, ordinary risotto - but using frozen peas, asparagus, fine green beans, tenderstem broccoli, mint, chives and parsley instead.
The combination of the highly flavoursome chicken and the clean, fresh flavours of the risotto with its herbs, were just perfect together.
Hubby even reserved a few asparagus spears for decoration, which was good because although it is great in a risotto, I do love the flavour of asparagus and it was a treat to have some to enjoy on its own.
I'll have to remember to use vegetable risotto in this context again in future. I have used Risotto Milanese (saffron risotto) in this way in the past and it worked exceptionally well there, too. The light and springlike flavours were a lovely break from the somewhat heavier mid-winter flavours that we've been enjoying before and since, thanks to the awful weather. Hopefully, we'll get a chance to put them to the test in another combination very soon!
RISOTTO PRIMAVERA (Serves 3)
150g asparagus spears
2 handfuls of frozen peas
150g tenderstem broccoli
50g fine green beans
3 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
2 banana shallots, very finely diced
300g Arborio or Carnaroli rice
100ml of white wine
1.5 litres of vegetable stock (we used Essential cuisine vegetable stock powder)
10g fresh chopped parsley
10g fresh chopped chives
10g fresh chopped mint
50g grated parmesan
sea salt and finely ground black pepper.
1. Bring a saucepan of salted water to a rolling boil and prepare the asparagus by snapping at the weak point (around one third of the way up the stem from the cut end). Retain the woody ends for use in the stock and blanch the tipped ends for 60 seconds. Drain (retaining the water) and then plunge into bowl of iced water to stop the cooking process.
2. Repeat with the frozen peas, tenderstem broccoli and green beans - blanching for 3 minutes and adding them to the same iced water.
3. Prepare the stock by adding the stock cube or powder to the cooking water and add the woody ends of the asparagus, cut lengthwise. Bring up to a simmer and keep the stock over a very low heat until required, not allowing it to boil. Remove the asparagus pieces just before use.
4. Heat the olive oil and butter gently together in a large pan. Add the shallots and cook until they are soft and transparent, not allowing them to brown.
5. Add rice to the shallot mix and stir well to coat with the oils, then turn the heat up as hot as you dare - without burning - before quenching the pan with the white wine.
6. Cook until the wine has reduced by two thirds and add a ladleful of the vegetable stock (minus the asparagus pieces). Reduce heat to a simmer.
7. Continue adding ladlefuls whenever the mixture runs dry, stirring well and keeping it moving to avoid catching on the bottom of the pan.
8. Continue in this way until the rice is cooked al dente. You may find you have stock left over, which is normal as different rices require different amounts of liquid.
9. Drain the vegetables from the iced water and add them to the risotto to warm them through, stirring gently so as not to break them up.
10. Add the parsley, chives, mint and grated parmesan, reserving a small amount of parsley for garnish. Stir gently through and taste for seasoning.
11. Serve and garnish with shaved parmesan and chopped parsley.