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!

Burmese Chicken Curry

Serves: 6

This is down the line a wonderful, aromatic and quite light curry.

It’s also moorish.

And it is simple to make.

Process the marinade, cook with the chicken, add the bay leaves, cinnamon and stock and reduce.

Simple.

To keep it healthy, substitute some cauliflower rice and you have a cracking weekday dinner.

And what a treat on a Monday night. Something to really look forward to on a cold, rainy Covid Monday which at the time of writing this up, we have plenty more of to go.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

1kg chopped chicken thigh
3 tbsp light soy
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
600ml chicken stock

Method

  1. Process together the soy, turmeric, some salt and pepper, one of the onions, 3 cloves of the garlic, the ginger and the chilli powder. Pour over the chicken.
  2. Heat the oil, fry the remaining onion and garlic until transparent and then add the chicken and dry for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon and stir in the stock.
  4. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and then cover and simmer for an hour or until tender.
  5. Thicken the sauce by boiling, uncovered, at the end of the meal.
  6. Cauliflower rice – or the real deal if it’s that sort of night – and a glass of Pinot and you’re in business!

Southwestern Chicken Sausage

Makes: 20 sausages

The continuing Covid Crisis means dipping back into the more complex stuff like a naan bread Nat made on our Komado last week and learning how to make sushi.

Though making sausages from scratch remains one of our favourite weekend afternoon tricks and this past weekend, we made two crackers.

This sausage – a chicken sausage – was just wonderful.

If you don’t have a sausage making device or even a mincer, `you could just food process it all and pan-fry them up as patties.

Though if you have a KitchenAid, the mincing and sausage extensions are a lot of fun and sausage casings can be found at most good butchers.

We have had a lot of hit and miss when it comes to making our own sausages and the key observation from this recipe: polenta (or grits). They hold in the moisture, they give you texture, they make these sausages commercial grade.

Though add in the fun of making them, the freshness, owning the ingredients and the bragging rights… and you are onto a good thing.

Ingredients

1.4kg chicken thigh (meat and fat)
80gm polenta (or grits)
340ml chicken stock
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chilli powder
200gm Jalapeño chillies
1 red capsicum
2 tbsp fresh coriander

Method

  1. Roast the Jalapeño chillies in the oven until charred; remove the charred skins and roughly chop.
  2. Cook the polenta in the chicken stock until soft. 40 minutes or so.
  3. Chop the chicken into 3cm pieces and combine with all the ingredients.
  4. Mince and stuff into sausage casings.
Sicilian Roast Chicken - As good as it gets

Nonna’s Rice-Stuffed Chicken

Serves: 4 – 6

This recipe by Mattel Tine of Bar Carolina in Melbourne, is a brilliant example of Sicilian home cooking.

One of the best chicken dishes ever. Blow-away good.

Cooked by Nat last Sunday night, this was just genius. I literally sat back and watched and wow, was I impressed.

With all of the fresh herbs and the lemon, it is such an aromatic dish. The risotto – especially the risotto dumplings – are amazing. And despite my misgivings about roast potatoes, they just work in this dish.

Line this up for Sunday night. Open a Pinot. Dim the lights, put on some music and enjoy the Covid lockup in style.

Ingredients

1.8kg chicken
100ml olive oil
1 cup each courses chopped flat-leaf parsley, rosemary and sage
Juice of two lemons
5 roasting potatoes, peeled and quartered

Rice Stuffing

60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300gm ( 1 1/2 cups) quality risotto rice
600ml chicken stock
80gm (1 cup) Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, finely grated
50gm (1/2 cup) fine breadcrumbs
1 egg
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp each finely chopped oregano and flat-leaf parsley

Method

  1. For rice stuffing, heat oil in a casserole over low-medium heat. Add onion and garlic and stir until translucent and aromatic (4 – 6 minutes). Add rice and stir (1 minute, then add chicken stock and cook stirring continuously, until rice has absorbed the liquid and is al dente (6 – 8 minutes; you want the rice to be undercooked).
  2. Spread the rice over a tray to cool (15 minutes). Add remaining ingredients and mix well to combine.
  3. Preheat over to 200C. Stuff rice stuffing into chicken cavity to fill completely, then roll remaining stuffing into walnut-sized balls.
  4. Combine oil, herbs and lemon juice in a bowl. Season to taste. Place the chicken in the baking dish and then place the potatoes and dumplings around the chicken. Brush the chicken all over with the herb dressing. Pour 5mm of water into the pan and roast until the chicken is cooked through (1 1/2 hours). Set aside to rest (30 minutes) then carve and serve.

P.S. This post is dedicated to Alexa Donovan. I’ve known her since she was born, I’ve watched her grow up into a wonderful, thoughtful young woman, she has babysat my three kids plenty of times… and she can cook. (And cooks (or at least reads) this blog. I’ll see if she can do a guest post!)