Burmese Lemongrass Chicken Curry

Serves: 2

Last Saturday night, Nat did this curry with a coconut rice.

We wanted something quick, easy and healthy: we were already up to our eyeballs in cooking prepping for Sunday.

Neither of us had high expectations, though wow. It was awesome.

It is the spice that really does it. Hard to put my finger on it, though the heat was so focused and simple. The aromatics from the lemongrass immediately followed.

One mouthful in, Nat said I wouldn’t type it, though two in, I challenged this. Three mouthfuls and we both agreed that it was traditional, wonderful and needed to stick around.

Just make sure you accompany it with the coconut rice.

Ingredients

250gm chicken breast cut into 4cm pieces
3 sticks lemongrass, bruised
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 tomatoes finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1cm ginger, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp palm sugar
1/2 tsp turmeric

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large wok and add the shallots and garlic and fry until translucent.
  2. Add half of the tomatoes and cook over a medium-high heat until soft. Add the remaining tomatoes and repeat.
  3. Add the ginger and lemongrass. Stir fry until the sauce becomes a richer, deeper red colour. Then add the chilli powder, turmeric, fish sauce and palm sugar and stir.
  4. Add the chicken pieces with 1 1/2 c water and mix. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, The cover and simmer on a medium heat for 10 minutes. Finish the curry by removing the lid and allowing the sauce to cook down and thicken (approximately another 15 minutes).
  5. Remove the lemongrass pieces and serve with steamed rice.

White Chicken Chilli

Serves: 8

Some of my most enthusiastic type-ups are chillies.

Because chillies are just so good on so many levels:

  • Even the healthiest taste amazing.
  • They’re set and forgets cooking wise.
  • You’re happy to end them night-after-night.
  • They go so well on toast.
  • They freeze.

This white chicken chilli checks all of these boxes and then some. It is just so satisfying.

If you’re an elite athlete, add avocado, tortilla chips and shredded cheese. If you’re me, add lots of coriander.

Either way.

Make Monday night a good one, open a cold beer and enjoy with Squid Games or Ted Lasoo or whatever you’re streaming!

Ingredients

1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 c chicken stock
3 long green chillies, finely diced
1 12 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
250gm light cream cheese
1 1/4 c frozen or fresh corn
400gm can cannellini beans
2 1/2 cups shredded, poached chicken breast (or BBQ chicken)
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp chopped coriander plus more for serving
Tortilla chips, shredded tasty cheese, avocado for serving

Method

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onion and sautéed until coloured. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds longer.
  2. Add the chicken stock, green chillies, cumin, paprika, oregano, coriander, cayenne and season to taste. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and measure 1 cup, setting the balance aside. Transfer the 1 cup of beans to a food processor along with 1/4 cup of the stock from the soup and purée until nearly smooth.
  4. Add the cream cheese, corn, whole beans and puréed beans to the soup, stir and simmer for another 10 minutes, ensuring the cream cheese dissolves.
  5. Stir in the chicken, fresh lime juice and coriander. Warm through and serve with the accompaniments.

Neil Perry’s Chicken and Leek Pie

Serves: 4 – 6

I have written many times about my love of pies.

Though I have never typed up a chicken pie. Not because I haven’t cooked them and don’t necessarily love the very best of them: though I have never cooked one of the very best of them.

Until now.

Weeks into Sydney’s lockdown and it’s Father’s Day and knowing that both my father and my father-in-law love a pie as much as I do, I had to do a compassionate food run.

I needed a down-the-line, bloody good chicken pie.

Something that was honest and simple. To be served with a mash* and peas.

A celebration.

This is just that pie. Thanks Neil Perry as usual.

You can’t go wrong with leek slowly cooked in butter, though it is the thinly sliced chicken breast that wins here.

And smoked bacon.

Line your pie dish with pastry and then cover all with pastry and make it even more svelte.

It’s simple and that’s the point.

Happy Father’s Day.

(I have slightly adapted the recipe.)

Ingredients

30gm butter
2 small leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
6 rashers smoked bacon, chopped
3 chicken breast fillets, cut into thin strips
300ml cream
2 egg yolks
Salt and pepper
Sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten, for glazing

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium-low heat and cook the leeks until very sold and lightly golden, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add the bacon to the pan and cook until lightly browned, remove and set aside. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until lightly browned, remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
  3. Wipe out the pan with paper towels. Return the leeks, bacon and chicken to the pan. Add the combined cream and yolks, stir over a low heat for 2 minutes and then season with salt and pepper, to taste, Transfer to a bowl to cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to 210C. And make a pie. You known how to do this right? Egg wash, prick the pastry to allow the steam to escape and bake for 30 minutes until the top is puffed and golden brown.
  5. Happy Father’s Day ladies. And gents.

* Use a ricer, plenty of butter and milk, well seasoned: and then add a finely chopped golden shallot.

Justin Smille’s Chicken Thigh Ragù with Pappardelle

Serves: 6

Justin Smille is a New York Times three-star chef and this genius chicken ragù is total proof. Bold, rustic, slow-braised wonderfulness when you want a ragù that isn’t pork or beef.

The chicken doesn’t overwhelm the light tomato and olive sauce and my goodness.

It is a bit of a labour of love, though worth every step.

Lock in Saturday afternoon and live the good life. Champagne from 3pm will make it go faster (and I know this from experience)!

Ingredients

20gm dried porcini mushrooms
1 tbsp sugar
2 red onions, chopped
1 fennel bulb, halved, cored and chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
250gm pancetta, cut into 1cm dice
1kg skinless chicken thighs
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
1 tbsp finely chopped sage
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 c sherry vinegar
3/4 c dry white wine
2 c chicken stock
1 c pasata
1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved
750gm fresh or dried papardelle
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serv
ing

Method

  1. In a small bowl, combine the porcini mushrooms and sugar, cover with hot water and let the mushrooms soak for 30 minutes or until the mushrooms have soften. Drain discarding the water and chop.
  2. Meanwhile, in the food processor, combine the onions, fennel, celery, carrot and garlic and pulse until finely chopped.
  3. In a large, heavy casserole pot, heat the oil over a moderate heat. Add the pancetta, stirring until browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and set aside.
  4. Season the whole chicken thighs with salt and pepper and add to the casserole. Cook over a moderately high heat until golden brown. Transfer the chicken to a platter.
  5. Add the chopped vegetables, a generous pinch each of salt and pepper to the casserole. Cook over a low heat until the vegetables are softened, the liquid is evaporated and the vegetables are just starting to brown. Stir in the rosemary, sage, tomato paste and porcini.
  6. Add the vinegar and cook over a moderate heat until almost evaporated. Add the wine and cook, stirring until reduced by half. Add the stock and pasta and bring to the boil.
  7. Return the chicken thighs to the casserole. Cover partially and simmer over low heat until the chicken is tender: about an hour.
  8. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let cool slightly. Shred the chicken and stir into the sauce with the olives and pancetta. Season and reduce until you have a ragù consistency.
  9. Cook the papperdelle al dente, drain well and toss gently with ragù. Serve with the freshly grated cheese.
  10. Enjoy.

The Monday Morning Cooking Club’s Chicken and Barley Soup

Serves: 8

The Monday Morning Cooking Club is a wonderful story.

In 2006, a group of Jewish women in Sydney started meeting to share recipes and talk all things food.

They contributed their favourite and family recipes and a couple of years later, they published a cookbook of their favourites.

This soup by Barbara Solomon is so warming. So healthy. So nourishing.

Especially through winter, we love to always have a soup in the fridge for lunch and snacks and this has become a favourite.

Yum.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
400gm tin diced tomatoes
2 ltrs chicken stock
200gm pearl barley
350gm (2 cups) shredded cooked chicken meat
2 tbsp chopped parsley

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions, carrots and celery until soft. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for a further 1 – 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil.
  2. Add the barley and reduce he heat to a simmer, then cook for about 50 minutes or until the barley is tender. Add the chicken and parsley, and stir through to heat. Season well with salt and pepper to taste.

Adam Liaw’s Chicken with Garlic & Crispy Lime Leaves

Serves: 2 – 4

Another cracking Adam Liaw dinner by Nat.

Very simple. Very elegant. Very garlic.Very Monday night. Very much an excuse to open a bottle of white.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

4 chicken thighs, skinless
8 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
10 kaffir lime leaves, veins removed and shredded
Vegetable oil for for deep frying (about 2 litres)
Lime wedges to serve

Marinade

1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp sesame oil

Method

  1. Trim any visible fat from the chicken and cut each thigh across the grain into 1cm strips. Mix together all of the marinade ingredients and stir through the chicken strips. Set aside for at least 10 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep-fryer, wok or open saucepan to 190c and deep-fry the chicken strips in small batches for 2 minutes, or until well browned and almost cooked. Set aside on a wire rack to drain and rest for a few minutes (the chicken will continue to cook through while resting.)
  3. Reduce the heat of the oil to 160c by adding a little cold oil and testing the temperature again with a thermometer. Fry the garlic until just browned and then scoop out with a wire-mesh strainer and set aside. Add the shredded lime leaves to the hot oil for just 1 – 2 seconds until they crisp. Set aside to drain on paper towel.
  4. Place the chicken on a warmed plate and scatter the the crispy garlic and lime leaves on top. Serve with lime wedges.

Chicken and Mortadella Agnolotti Del Plin

Serves: 4 (as an entree)

Another brilliant pasta from the cookbook Saturday Night Pasta, served as I walked into the house this afternoon after a few meetings in the city.

What a treat!

This is one-hat pasta. And served with a cold Champagne, it’s wonderful one-hat.

Reasonably simple too: which the best pastas are.

I know that making fresh pasta is sometimes a bit of a hurdle, though it really does make this dish. Ditto the burnt butter.

And when combined with the wonderful chicken and pork mixture…

Just do it.

Ingredients

250gm chicken mince
150gm sliced mortadella
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus extra to serve
3 tbsp finely snipped chives
1 egg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour for dusting
1 cup chicken stock
3 tbsp salted butter, roughly chopped
10 sage leaves

Fresh Egg Pasta Dough

200gm (1 1/3 cups) flour plus extra for dusting
2 eggs, beaten
Good pinch of salt

Method

Fresh Egg Pasta Dough

  1. In fairness to the author of the book – Elizabeth Hewson – her description of how to make this basic dough is not only detailed, though provides the guardrails to make sure you would find it hard to stuff up. When to add water, when to…. etc.
  2. Nat loves making dough though she doesn’t have much time for it.
  3. So essentially, knead all of this into a ball. Nat used a KitchenAid and let it rest for an hour and if this doesn’t work for you, perhaps explore further on how to make pasta dough: it isn’t hard either way.

For the restPlace the chicken mince, mortadella, Parmigiano Reggiano, chives, egg and a generous pinch of salt in a food processor and blitz until combined: set aside in the fridge whilst you make the pasta, or up to 2 days.

  1. Flour your bench and roll your pasta dough to about 1mm thick (setting 3 on a hand pasta roller). You want a long piece of pasta dough about 10cm in length.
  2. Lay the pasta dough on the dusted bench and dot half a teaspoon of the filling about 3cm apart in the middle of the pasta sheet. (See photo below to guide you.) Fold the pasta over and seal, squeezing out any air as you seal, ensuring the sheet evenly stretched over the filling.
  3. Trim and start pinching close the pasta, all the way down to the filling: and there you have agnolotti which should now be placed on a dusted tray ready for cooking. Get your water boiling and boil the agnolotti until it rises to the top and is ready.
  4. At the same time, place the stock, butter and sage leaves in a large, deep frypan and over a high heat bring to a boil. Burn as far as you want. Transfer the cooked agnolotti to the butter mixture and swirl. Serve with plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano and a good crack of pepper.

Brendan Pang’s Juicy Chicken Sheng Jian Bao

Makes: 20 Dumplings

Wowser, this is a cracking dumpling.

One of those dumplings you would order every time you visited your favourite dumpling restaurant. (Which is something we do a lot. Hint: Fangs in Cremorne, Sydney is just awesome and fully BYO.)

The recipe is from Brendan Pang’s book This is a Book about Dumplings.

You might remember him from Masterchef where he continued to blow the socks of the judges with his Asian cooking.

Half the key is the Bao bun dough which is both pan-fried and soft from the steam.

Served with coriander, soy, black vinegar and plenty of chilli… and Champagne.

A Christmas-break dream!

Ingredients

1 cup shredded (Napa) cabbage
1 tsp salt
350gm skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cubed
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp vegetable oil
Pinch of superfine sugar
Punch of ground white pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
Chopped coriander, for garnish
Soy sauce, Black Vinegar and chilli to dip

Bao bun dough

2 1/3 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp instant yeast
1 tbsp superfine sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Pinch of salt

Method

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the (Napa) cabbage and salt and massage with your hands. Set aside for 15 minutes and then using your hands, squeeze our any excess water from the cabbage and return the cabbage to the bowl.
  2. In a food processor, process the cubed chicken until finely minced. Add the cabbage, green onion and garlic and pulse 3 or 4 times or until incorporated. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in the remaining ingredients, Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. To make the Bao bun dough, in a separate bowl, combine the cake flour, instant yeast and sugar. If you are using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and turn on at a low speed. Slowly pour in the milk and oil. If the dough becomes a little dry, add more milk a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together.
  4. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 5 minutes (or 10 minutes if doing by hand). Once the dough is smooth, add a pinch of salt and and knead for an additional 2 minutes or until combined and smooth again.
  5. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.
  6. To fill the dumplings, shape the dough into a 3cm thick log and cut into 20 equal portions. Roll each piece into a ball and allow to rest for 3 minutes. Flatten each dough ball with the palm of your hand and then using a rolling pin, roll into a disc about 8cm in diameter. Place one heaped tbsp of filling into the centre of each dough disk.
  7. Gather up the sides and enclose the filling, pinching to seal and flipping so the seam side is at the bottom. Seal all the dumplings.
  8. Heat a large nonstick skillet with a lead over a medium-high heat and heat 1tbsp of vegetable oil. Working in batches (with fresh oil each time), add the dumplings seam side down. Press down firmly to flatten their base and cook until the base is golden brown: about 3 minutes.
  9. Add 1/2 cup hot water to the pan and cover with the lid. Cook for 5 – 7 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook until the liquid has cooked off and the underside of the dumplings are crisp again; add more oil if necessary.
  10. Serve with coriander… plenty of side heat and Champagne.

Christine Manfield’s Mughlai Chicken

Serves: 4

Christine Manfield‘s Mughlai Chicken is just another brilliant curry from her wonderful book, Tasting India.

It was just luscious, so unique and perfectly executed by Nat. Local Indian restaurant this is not.

Served alongside another wonderful cauliflower and potato curry, we had an old friend over for dinner, decanted a cracking red and had a memorable Saturday night in.

Doesn’t get much better than this.

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil
50gm finely sliced white onion
2 tsp minced ginger
2tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
500gm chicken thigh, cut into 2cm cubes
100gm thick plain yoghurt, whisked
300ml white chicken stock
3 tsp mint chutney
50gm finely chopped spinach leaves
100gm spinach puree
2 tsp salt
20 fried curry leaves, slightly crushed
1 tsp ghee, melted

Mint Chutney

100gm mint leaves
75gm coriander leaves
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 small green chilli, minced
2 tsp minced ginger
5 tbsp thick plain yoghurt
2 red shallots, finely diced
2 tsp chat masala
1/2 tsp sea salt
Pinch of chilli powder

Method

Mint chutney

Blend the mint, coriander, lemon juice, chilli and ginger to make a smooth paste. Stir in the yoghurt, shallot, chat masala, salt and chilli powder. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Spinach puree

Blanch spinach leaves in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain and chop then puree in a food processor.

Fried curry leaves

Heat some vegetable oil to 170c and fry fresh curry leaves in small batches for 20 seconds

The Curry

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli over a high heat until softened. Add the chicken and toss to combine. Fry for a minute and then add the yoghurt.
  2. When the mixture starts to simmer, add the stock. Bring back to the simmer and then stir through the chutney and spinach leaves. Cook for 10 minutes until the chicken is tender and the gravy reduced.
  3. Add the spinach puree and salt and stir until combined and heated through. Stir in the curry leaves and ghee and serve with steamed rice.

Grilled Rosemary Chicken Thighs – Kamado

Serves: 6

In one of my previous posts I mentioned that during Covid, we invested in a Kamado: a heavy, ceramic BBQ based on the traditional Japanese wood or charcoal stove.

It hasn’t always been the easiest thing to master.

It took trial and error to understand the heat potential and elasticity of charcoal.

Do not cook pizzas over a direct heat.

If you are going to cook naan bread and plug it into the roof of the device – which you can – oil the surface first.

And, do consider the use of a hair dryer in emergencies: it is not something to be ashamed of.

The most interesting approach for me however has been the combined use of charcoal and wood: you get immense heat when you need it, you have staying power thanks to the coal and you get flame when you want it.

I am starting a new category of recipes dedicated to the Kamado.

And this is my first recipe, though I have a few to do.

Combined with a wonderful Karen Martini slaw and corn cooked over the flames of the Kamado, it transported us back to the very best BBQ Nat and I had in Austin a few years ago.

This is BBQ. This… is amazing.

Ingredients

15 chicken thighs (free-range please people)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 – 4 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder

Method

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the chicken.
  2. Mix well and add the chicken, ensuring that it is covered in the mixture.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and ideally 24 hours, stirring a couple of times.
  4. Prepare your Kamado for direct cooking: I drifted between 150c and 220c based on the flames.
  5. Char-grill until well cooked through and caramelised and enjoy!