Paul Bocuse’ Chicken Salad

Serves: 3

This Paul Bocuse salad is just excellent.

(Not that one would be surprised coming from one of the greatest chefs of all time!)

Such a wonderful, sophisticated flavour. Everything balances, everything is just right.

Definitely a Saturday lunch winner.

(The recipe calls for white baby onions. These ARE NOT those appalling things you can find pickling in jars. You’ll have to shop around – Harris Farm or a nice IGA – though they are out there. If you use those onions in a jar, a curse will come over your kitchen!)

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
Cos lettuce, sliced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 white baby onions, sliced finely
100 gm Gruyère cheese, diced
100 gm black olives, pitted and torn
3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
100gm walnut pieces
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Method

  1. Poach the chicken in water together with some celery leaves and peppercorns and then cool and slice into strips.
  2. Place the chicken, celery onion, cheese, olives, tomatoes and walnuts in a large bowl and chill.
  3. Whisk together the vinegar, oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
  4. Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss well.

Tuna with caponata

Serves: 4

We love a piece freshly cooked tuna or swordfish, dressed with diced tomato, olives, some balsamic and olive oil. Super simple, super quick, foolproof.

Which means that caponata and fresh tuna – with, let’s say, three-times the effort of the abovementioned – really is where you need to be for that special, healthy, weeknight dinner.

It’s worth the extra effort.

Add some steam greens or a green salad – and definitely a bottle of white wine – and this is an awesome meal for you and friends.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
4 tuna steaks
Extra-virgin olive oil to serve
Lemon wedges to serve
Steam beans or a green salad to serve

Caponata

1/4 cup olive oil
1 small red onion, cut into 2cm pieces
1 large eggplant, cut into 2cm pieces
200gm grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
12 black olives, pitted and halved
1 1/2 tbsp capers in vinegar, rinsed
1 birdseye chilli, thinly sliced

Method

  1. For the caponata, heat half the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add onion and stir until golden and softened (5 minutes). Remove from pan.
  2. Add the eggplant and remaining oil to the pan and stir to coat; add 1/4 cup of water and then cover with a lid and steam until tender (5 minutes). Remove the lid and cook, stirring occasionally until golden (5 minutes).
  3. Return onions to the pan, add remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally until tomatoes soften.
  4. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Season tuna and add to the pan and sear, turning once until cooked medium rare (2-3 minutes each side).
  5. Cut steaks in half and serve with caponata, lemon wedges, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil… steamed beans or a salad and definitely that bottle of white!

Pollo alla Cacciatora

Pollo alla Cacciatora

Serves: 4.

I had completely forgotten how good Chicken Cacciatora was until I did this number.

What a fool!

Seriously, this is so good. The richness, the warmth, the depth of flavour. And so easy.

This is a Jamie Oliver version and served with some Italian potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts, it was just glorious.

And served on some toast the next morning for breakfast?

You would have a queue at your cafe if you simply did that. Genius.

I substituted chicken thigh for the whole chicken simply to make things easier; if we were entertaining, the whole chicken would have been the go.

Either way, do this old-fashioned Italian dish and you’ll be a hero.

Ingredients

1 x 2kg chicken, jointed (or 1kg of chicken thigh)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 clove of garlic peeled (1 crushed, 2 sliced)
½ bottle of Chianti (the other ½ is for you, my friend)
Flour, for dusting
Extra virgin olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
A handful of green or black olives, stoned
2 x 400gm tins of tomatoes

Method

  1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and put them in a bowl. Add the bay leaves, rosemary sprigs and the crushed clove of garlic and cover with the wine. Leave to marinate for at least an hour and preferably overnight in the fridge.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180c. Drain the chicken reserving the marinade and pat the chicken dry with paper towel. Dust the chicken with flour and shake off any excess; especially important if you are using thigh meat only.
  3. Heat a large saucepan, add a good splash of olive oil, fry the chicken pieces until browned lightly all over and set aside.
  4. Place the pan back on the heat and add the sliced garlic. Gently fry until golden brown and then add the anchovies, olives, tomatoes and chicken pieces together with the reserved marinade. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 1 ½ hours.
  5. Skim any oil that has collected at the top of the sauce, remove the bay leaves and rosemary stalks, season and serve.

Terrine with olives, pine nuts and prosciutto

Serves: Plenty as a starter

My father’s birthday was last weekend and right on cue, my mother served an amazing French lunch to celebrate. Tapenade to begin, a wonder goats cheese souffle, a four-hour lamb with pan-fried potatoes and mushrooms, beans tossed with caramelised onion and crepes suzette.

Wowser.

And all we brought was Champagne!

But it was this terrine that I thought won the show.

Sure, the lamb was amazing… indeed, it all was smashing.

But for effort and presentation, sophistication and wow… this terrine was just awesome.

Today, we spent the day packing boxes ready for our big house move in a week and I found our bread tin in the corner of one kitchen cupboard where it has been since who knows when.

But as soon as we’re in to the new place, no kidding, first Saturday afternoon, I’m doing this again.

House move complete, some toasts, some music, sun in the courtyard and a bottle of Champagne, this will be bloody heaven.

Ingredients

500g lean pork (mince)
125g veal (mince)
125g pork fat
⅓ cup pine nuts
¼ cup soft white breadcrumbs
2 tbsp dry vermouth
90g prosciutto, cut in one slice
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt
⅓ cup black olives
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
½ tsp dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 slices, fatty bacon, rinds removed

Method

  1. If not minced, cut the pork, veal and pork fat into small pieces and then mince together in a food processor.
  2. Lightly toast the pine nuts. Soak the breadcrumbs in the vermouth. Cut the prosciutto into small dice. Crush the clove of garlic with the salt.
  3. Combine all the prepared ingredients with a large bowl with the olives, basil, thyme, a grinding of black pepper and the egg; mix well.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  5. Line a 5 – 6 cup loaf pan with 3 slices of the bacon. Turn the meat mixture into the pan and push down firmly. Cover with the remaining bacon.Bake the terrine for 1¼ hours. Pour off any excess fat or juices. Put a plate on top and weigh it down: you want it to be as tight and compact as possible.
  6. Cool and then chill for 12 hours.
  7. To serve, unmould onto a platter allow to come to room temperature.
  8. Toast some thin breads, open some good french, send the kids to their room, enjoy.

Chicken with harissa and tomatoes

Serves: 4

We are backwards when it comes to cooking effort throughout the week.

My understanding is that Monday is that day when you should keep it super simple; first day back at work and last thing you want to do it spend two hours in the kitchen.

Whereas for us – well me at least – nothing could be better than spending time in the kitchen on a Monday night, free from the shackles of ‘the man’. Easy dishes are instead left for later in the week when you’re priorities are changing; it’s almost Thursday, you’re organising the weekend, the latest Batchelor has been uploaded to TenPlay for streaming.

No time to cook.

Which is where this sweet little number comes in.

I know it looks simple and it is. I know it looks a bit too simple, though it’s not.

Served with some steamed green beans and some baby potatoes, wow. Indeed, anything you served this with – from couscous to a green salad to polenta – would only make it more amazing; once the tomatoes break down and combine with the oregano and harissa, you have one tasty – and healthy – meal on your hands.

Whether you do it Monday or Wednesday, this is a tick.

Ingredients

4 skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp harissa
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
250g pack cherry tomatoes
Handful olives (kalamatas or similar)

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200c. Put the chicken in a medium roasting tray, then rub with harissa, oil and oregano.
  2. Cover with foil and roast for 5 minutes then remove the foil and add the cherry tomatoes and olives to the tray. Roast for 10 minutes or more until the tomato skins start to split and the chicken is cooked through.

Maurice Brun’s Tapenade

Serves: 8 snacking adults

I found this recipe in Patricia Well’s wonderful ‘Bistro Cooking’; French recipes from small family restaurants across France.

I am going to work my way through some of the fabulous sounding seafood recipes in the next few weeks: ‘L’Ami Louis’s scallops with Garlic, Tomatoes, Basil and Thyme’, ‘Chez Geraud’s Giant Shrimp Grilled with Brittany Sea Salt’, ‘Mussels with Tomatoes, Garlic, Olive Oil and Wine’, ‘Roasted Salmon with Olive Oil’ and ‘Arrantzaleak’s Grilled Tuna with Garlic and Sauce Piperade’, a sauce pf tomatoes, onions and chilis. 

My heart is at 130BPM just think about it!

Anyway, this is a fabulous tapenade I made as part of a bigger plate of dips, spreads and breads.

The rum (versus the traditional cognac) adds a faint, sweet flavour and on some oiled and toasted Turkish bread?

There’s your boy.

Ingredients

2 tbsp drained capers
4 anchovy fillets
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp rum
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 c (250gm) black olives, pitted

Method

  1. Combine the capers, anchovies, thyme, rum and oil in a food processor and process until just blended. Add the olives and pulse on/off about 10 times until the mixture is fairl coarse though well combined.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and serve.