Ajoy Joshi’s Chicken with Spinach

Serves: 4 – 6

A love a good spinach curry!

Unlike what we all get served up at our local Indian however, this dish by Ajoy Joshi has depth, heat and character. It is clearly a curry that doesn’t share a base with 200 other curries on the menu.

As with all Ajoy dishes, there are twists: the processed onions cooked gold in the oil is just one trick that makes this recipe special.

As part of a banquet, you could do a whole lot worse.

Ingredients

500gm (baby) spinach, stems removed
3 fresh mild long green chillies, slit lengthways
2 large yellow (brown) onions, roughly chopped
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 c whole milk
1 whole chicken (1.5kg) cut into 10 pieces, or 1kg chicken pieces (I used thigh)
1 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp chilli powder
3 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 c heavy (double) cream

Method

  1. In a food processor, combine spinach and chillies and process until a paste forms. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Rinse and dry process, add onions and process until finely ground. Remove from the processor and set aside.
  2. In a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat oil over a medium-heat. Add onions and salt and cooked uncovered, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the milk and cook for another 5 minutes longer.
  3. Raise heat to high, add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 5 minutes.* Stir in the Garam Masala and chilli powder and cook, stirring, until all the moisture evaporates and the oil separates, 5 – 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the spinach purée and tomatoes. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until the chicken is cooked throughout and tender, 20 – 25 minutes. Uncover and if liquid remains, continue to cook on a medium heat until it evaporates.
  5. Just before serving, stir in the cream. Serve immediately.

* Respectfully, when chefs ask for meat to be browned in a sauce or gravy, I just don’t understand if this is possible without commercial cooking. Meat just doesn’t brown in milk. Just cook the meat.

The New Roast Chicken

Serves: 4

I cooked this recipe – originally from Delicious Magazine – years ago and it is really just so impressive. Really rewarding.

It’s a roast chicken on Monday night.

Ingredients

1/3 c olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
4 skinless breast fillets
12 slices flat pancetta
4 slices sourdough bread
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/3 c flat-leaf parsley
40gm unsalted butter
1 tbsp plain flour
1 c white wine
2 c chicken stock
2 tbsp dry sherry or white wine
Steamed green beans to serve

Method

  1. Combine 2 tbsp olive oil in a bowl with 1 crushed garlic clove and thyme leaves. Season the chicken breasts and coat in garlic oil. Wrap each breast with 3 slices of pancetta slightly overlapping. Enclose chicken in plastic wrap and chill for 2 – 3 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190c. Break bread into rough pieces and i and toss in 1 tbsp oil. Place on a baking tray in a single layer and cook for 10 minutes or until golden and crisp. Cool slightly and pulse in a food processor with lemon zest parsley and remaining garlic until you have coarse crumbs. Season.
  3. Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in an ovenproof frypan over a medium-high heat. Remove chicken from plastic wrap and cook, turning for 2 – 3 minutes until browned all over, then cook in the oven for 10 – 12 minute or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the oven, add butter to the pan and baste chicken with the melted butter. Remove chicken from the pan and cover with foil while you make the gravy.
  4. Return frypan to medium heat and cook flour, stirring for 1 minute until lightly browned. Add wine and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, then add stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes until the gravy is thickened. Add sherry to taste. Slice chicken and serve with gravy and green beans, scattered with breadcrumbs.

Neil Perry’s Chicken and Macaroni Salad

Serves: 4

This a super simple, super wonderful salad. It has Saturday lunch written all over it.

It is delicious. And whilst the simplicity of the ingredients might not let onto that, it is the simplicity of the ingredients that deliver.

You can buy a cooked chicken to make things easier though I cooked a chicken and it was just a bit more special. Leave the skin on either way.

And Neil’s tip… buy artichokes in olive oil and not brine. Though that’s obvious right!

Ingredients

1.6kg roast chicken, shredded
250gm cooked macaroni, al dente, drained and refreshed under cold water
2 celery stalks, cut into julienne
4 preserved artichoke hearts, thinly sliced
250gm cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
235gm aioli
1 lemon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Aioli

3 egg yolks
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Sea salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
375ml half olive oil, half extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

(Makes about 400ml)

Method

  1. Place the pasta, celery, artichoke, tomato and egg in a large bowl and gently fold in the aioli.

For the salad

  1. Divide among four plates and top with roast chicken. Squeeze over a little lemon juice, drizzle with oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

For the aioli

  1. Put a saucepan large enough to hold a stainless steel bowl on a bench. Place a tea towel around the inside edge of the pan and place the bowl on top; this will hold the bowl steady while you whisk.
  2. Put the egg yolks in the bowl and whisk. Add the garlic, sea salt and lemon juice and while whisking, drizzle in the oil very slowly. As the emulsion starts to form, add the oil in a steady stream. Don’t let the oil sit on the surface as this can cause the aioli to split. Add a grind of pepper and check the seasoning for salt and lemon juice.
  3. Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for a week.

Terry Durack’s Prawn and Lup Cheong Omelet

Serves: 1

Sunday is a long-lunch day and often, we do them at home.

Or more correctly this time, Nat did it at home. An utterly excellent, four course, lux-Chinese banquet.

This recipe by Terry Durack kicked the afternoon off and wow, it was a doozy of a dish. A dish that said things are going to be good.

The flavours are so mature and sophisticated; and it absolutely looks the part.

With Champagne… things were definitely good.

Ingredients

1/2 lup cheong sausage
1 tbsp vegetable oil plus 1 tsp for frying
5 medium prawns, peeled and cleaned
1 mild red chilli, finely sliced
50gm bean sprouts
3 eggs
The green tops of 2 green spring onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 tsp caster sugar
Sea salt and black pepper
2 tsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp coriander leaves

Method

  1. Place the lup cheong in a steamer and steam for 5 minutes yo soften, then finely slice. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok and stir-fry the prawns, lup cheong and half the chilli for 1-2 minutes over a high heat. Add the bean sprouts and toss for 30 seconds, and remove from the heat.
  2. Lightly beat the eggs, half the onion tops, fish sauce, sugar, sea salt and pepper together with a fork. Heat 1 tsp oil in wok over a medium-high heat and swirl to coat the surface. Pour in the egg mixture and cook, using a fork to draw the mixture back into the centre, allowing the egg to cook.
  3. When lightly set on top, lower the heat, scatter with the stir fry mixture and most of the remaining onion tops and cook for another 30 seconds or until the egg is cooked through. Slide the omelet from the wok onto a warmed plate; optionally fold the it over on itself. Drizzle oyster sauce on top, and scatter with the coriander and remaining onions and chilli. Serve immediately.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s One-Pan Crispy Spaghetti and Chicken

Serves: 4

You have to give it to this guy. He is so clever.

And this dish is just that. Like, screw you clever. Like, why didn’t I bloody think of that clever.

Like one-pot-pasta clever, though cleverer than the first batch of one-pot-pastas we were all inundated with five years back.

It’s the simplicity. The rusticity. And the various textures of the spaghetti, from soft to crunchy: the caramelised chicken.

Look at that spaghetti!

And it is fun to dish and eat.

Screw you clever.

It is a weeknight meal though served on a Saturday night with friends, it would absolutely not look out of place.

It is just that fun… and good.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1kg skin-on chicken thighs (4-6)
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1cm dice
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 c boiling water
230gm spaghetti, broken into thirds
1/3 c lightly packed finely grated Parmesan
3 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 c finely chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 220c.
  2. Add 1 tbsp oil to a large, ovenproof lidded skillet and heat over high. Season the chicken with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper, then add to the hot oil, skin down. Cook for 7 minutes, without turning, to brown well.
  3. Turn down to medium-high, stir in the onion and turn over the chicken; cook for 5 minutes until the onion has softened and is slightly browned. Add the tomato paste, garlic and 1 tbsp thyme and cook, stirring the paste into the onions for 2 minutes or until fragrant and all browned.
  4. Add the boiling water, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, then add the spaghetti, stirring to submerge and evenly distribute. Lift the chicken pieces so that sit on top of the spaghetti, skin side up. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and transfer to the oven for 30 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley, lemon zest and remaining thyme.
  6. After the pasta has baked for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and turn the oven to its highest setting and get the grill on. Sprinkle the Parmesan mixture evenly over the chicken, drizzle with the remaining oil and grill for a few minutes until nicely browned and crisp. Set aside for a few minutes and serve straight from the pan.

Neil Perry’s Vietnamese Chicken and Prawn Coleslaw

Serves: 4

This is such a classic Vietnamese dish.

Pops of flavour, could be had as a main or a side.

Very hard to get it wrong. Very hard to complain.

Ingredients

1 small roasted or barbecued chicken
6 cooked large prawns, peeled and deveined
1 carrot, julienned
200gm shredded cabbage
1 small red onion, cut into thin rings
40g mint and coriander
1 1/2 tbsp crispy fried shallots, plus 2 tsp to serve
1 1/2 tbsp crushed roasted peanuts, plus 2 tsp to serve

Nuoc Cham Dressing

2 long fresh red chillies, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp caster sugar
60ml fish sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice

Method

  1. To make the dressing, pound the chillies, garlic and sugar in a mortar and pestle. Add the fish sauce, rice vinegar and 60ml water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside for 15 minutes for the flavours to infuse. Stir in the lime juice, taste and adjust as necessary.
  2. Pull the chicken meat off the bones, tear into bite-sized pieces and add it to a large bowl. Cut the prawns in half lengthways and add them to the bowl.
  3. Add the carrot, cabbage, onion, herbs, fried shallots and peanuts to the bowl. Pour over the dressing, mix well and transfer to a salad bowl. Serve immediately with the extra fried shallots and peanuts.

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.

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.