4 August 2013

Lemon & poppyseed sauce for chicken - that's different!

Well now it's not often that I post up a recipe for just a sauce, so maybe that gives you an indication of how much I rate this particular sauce.

What makes it so special?  You may well ask - and it'd be a good question.  I reckon it is the juxtaposition (phew, big word!) of the lemon against the soured cream against the savoury shallots against the big textural input of the poppyseeds.  It's just like nothing I've ever had before.

I found the recipe for the sauce in the latest edition of the BBC Good Food magazine again (there's going to be a few of those cropping up - it was a great edition!) and once again it isn't out on the website yet.  I'm sure it will be there eventually, but until then, you can find it here.

Both myself and the original recipe used it to accompany roasted chicken pieces with roasted root vegetables, which was great.  I also added some mashed potato - which went down very well with myself and son & heir, but not so well with potato-hating Hubby.  We've resolved to use sweet potato for him in future, as they would go so well with this sauce.

I have also just finished off the remainder of the sauce by putting it over some noodles with sweetcorn added.  It was certainly different - and very nice.  I think I'd have preferred peas, but we have a glut of sweetcorn, so that got used instead.  It didn't matter, I reckon you could eat yesterday's newspaper with that sauce and it'd taste good.

It is simplicity itself to make - and if you think ahead and bake or roast your meat and vegetables, then that will leave you the time to concentrate on cooking the sauce.

One cook's note is to make sure not to reduce it too far, because as soon as it hits the plate it begins to thicken - most mysteriously - so you need it to be verging on the point of being too thin before you serve it.

I used our beautiful Amalfi lemons for it, which gave it a slightly sweeter note than perhaps using normal lemons would have done, but either way I'm sure it would be fab.  The shallots gave it that savoury edge, with the lemon creating flavour and tang, the paprika gave wonderful colour and broadened the fruity flavour.  Of course, the honey sweetened the whole thing, the chicken stock (I used my favourite Essential Cuisine chicken stock powder) gave it body and the poppyseeds provided that amazing textural element as well as a very different flavour.

The original recipe included some fresh parsley which I left out as I had run out.  I have to say that I didn't miss it, so feel free to add some in or leave it out as you wish.

I can imagine that this sauce would be lovely with just about any fish or meat other than smoked types.  You would need to be careful over what sort of vegetables you put with it - I doubt that plain boiled cabbage, cauliflower or brussels sprouts would go so well.  However, carrots, peas, parsnips, beetroot - all the sweeter flavours of vegetable complement its tanginess perfectly.  Something fairly bland like mashed potato or rice (vegetable rice would be very good) would be perfect as it mops up the sauce and gives a different texture to that provided by the poppyseeds.

Just don't make or eat this sauce if you're dining with your boss, or are on an important date - those poppyseeds, they hang onto your teeth!

LEMON & POPPYSEED SAUCE   (serves 4-5)

Ingredients :

1 tsp rapeseed or olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp poppyseed
1 tsp sweet paprika (not smoked)
200ml chicken stock
1 tbsp clear honey
zest of 1 lemon
juice of half a lemon
150ml soured cream
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper.

Method :

1.  Heat the oil in a small saucepan and add the shallot.  Cook over a gentle heat, taking care not to allow the shallot to brown.  Once the pieces are turning transparent, add the poppyseeds and a teensy pinch of sea salt.  Continue cooking until the shallot is completely transparent (around 5-7 minutes).

2.  Add the paprika, chicken stock, honey, lemon zest and juice and stir well to combine.

3.  Bring to a lively simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced by half.

4.  Remove from the heat and add the soured cream.  Stir through until completely combined and taste for seasoning.  Add a little more salt and a good quantity of freshly ground black pepper.

5.  Continue to cook on a gentle simmer until the sauce has again reduced a little and the consistency is that of double cream.

Serve with roast chicken and vegetables such as peas, carrots, roasted sweet potato etc., instead of gravy.

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