Fooding around with Jenny Morris

Fooding around with Jenny Morris

What came first, the Chicken or the Egg?

Jenny Morris
Jenny Morris

If there is one word that describes chicken, it is “versatile”. You can serve it roasted, broiled, grilled or poached. It is such an easy bird to prepare and loves to be in the company of most herbs and spices.

One of my favourite meals that my mother used to make was a golden sticky roast chicken, a bird so big it fed six hungry people. I swear it had “D Cup” breasts – there were always leftovers to make chicken mayo sandwiches for school the next day. I was asked the other day if there was a method to buying a chicken, storing it and handling it raw. My reply was there sure is. Never buy a bird if the sell-by date on the label has already expired. It should not have an “off” smell and there should be no trauma marks on the flesh. In other words, the chicken skin should not have bruise marks on it. Frozen chickens should not have freezer burns or any ice deposits visible – this could indicate that the chicken has been defrosted and refrozen.

Always store chicken in the coldest section of your refrigerator. Raw chicken can keep for two to three days in the refrigerator; make sure it is securely sealed so that it does not contaminate other foods.You have to be extremely careful when handling raw chicken. Make sure that it does not come in contact with other foods, especially those that will be served uncooked. Always wash the cutting board and any utensils and that includes your hands. Wash them very well with hot soapy water after handling raw chicken. Now that I have scared you half to death, let’s cook some delicious chicken in one or more of the thousands of ways it can be prepared!

 

Roast chicken with gremolata

Gremolata is so densely packed with flavour, it adds lots of zest to everyday roast chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small chickens, about 1kg each

For the marinade, mix together:

  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • Sea salt and milled black pepper, to taste

 

 

For the gremolata topping mix together:

  • 1⁄4 cup toasted fresh white bread crumbs
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • Grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 crushed clove garlic
  • Sea salt and milled black pepper, to taste

 

Method:

Remove the backbones from the chickens, halve them and pat dry. Arrange in a single layer, skin-side up, in an oiled roasting pan. Moisten all over with the marinade while heating the oven to 230°C. Roast, basting now and again, for 40 minutes, or until golden brown and just cooked. Sprinkle with gremolata.
Serve with tiny pasta and a green salad on the side.

For something special, serve with creamy polenta. Cook 1 1⁄2 cups instant polenta in 5 1⁄2 cups good quality chicken stock until thick and smooth.  If necessary, add more chicken stock for a soft, creamy texture. Remove from heat and beat in 1/3 cup Mascarpone.  Season to taste. ©Philippa Cheifitz; EASY Fast & delicious; Quivertree publications

 

Parmesan crusted chicken breasts

serves 4

I like my breasts flashed in the pan for a touch of colour and finished off in the oven to maintain the succulence – every mouthful a flavour-filled memory.

  • 4 large, plump free range chicken breasts
  • 2 fat cloves garlic, mashed
  • salt and freshly ground black
  • pepper

Parmesan crumbs:

  • 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs, made from day-old bread
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tbls Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • lightly seasoned flour for dusting
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • oil for frying

 

Let’s work on those breasts first.
Place your hand firmly on a breast to hold it down and using a sharp knife, cut a slit horizontally into the side. Slice through enough flesh to open the breast.
Lay the breasts out on a flat surface and rub in the garlic, salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 180° C.
Mix together the breadcrumbs, thyme and Parmesan cheese.
Lightly dust the chicken breasts with the flour, dip them in the beaten eggs and then coat evenly with the breadcrumb mix. Rest them in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and gently slide the breasts into the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden. Transfer to an oven tray and bake for 10 minutes. Serve at once with a chunky sun-dried tomato and rocket mash.

 

© Jenny Morris More Rude Food

 

* Visit www.48hours.co.za for more recipes and info.