Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Week 59: Chicken, Tomatoes, Tarragon

Did I mention that the weather had turned? It has, it’s gone really nippy round our way. This week I was instructed to make something meaty and cosy.  I don’t think I’ve used Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things on a Plate for a few months, after the beany-kale thing, but the funny smell cleared and for some reason the ‘meat and two veg’ chapter appealed to me…

This is a dish that could feed the masses, it calls for a full chicken, but I wasn’t sure about eating it for a full week when I didn’t know if I liked tarragon. I reckon I could joint the chicken though if I were to cook this for 6-8; I saw Fanny Craddock do it with a pair of secateurs.

To serve 6-8 you will need: a chicken (1.8kg-ish jointed into 8 pieces, skin and bone on), 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 glass of white wine, juice of half a lemon, 500g ripe tomatoes and a bunch of tarragon. Unfortunately I had a slight chicken fail, I couldn’t get hold of any chicken pieces with the skin and bones on, so I got a pack of thighs instead.  Ho hum.

Turn the oven on to 190/gas 6 and heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan to a medium-high-ish heat.  While these are heating up rub salt and pepper into the chicken pieces.  Sear the chicken pieces in the frying pan until they are golden brown all over, then put them in an oven dish.  While these are browning squeeze the juice out of the half lemon.

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Pour half a glass of white wine into the pan, giving it all a good scrape around the bottom to loosen any chicken from the bottom. Pour into the chicken dish, then add the lemon juice and some more salt and pepper. Foil over the dish and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

If you’re having this with mash then you’ll need to prepare the potatoes before the thirty minutes is up (and if you’re having it with brown rice you should probably have put the rice on this morning sometime). Also, you’ll need to quarter the tomatoes.

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When the 30 minutes is up take the dish from the oven, remove the foil and add the tomatoes (cut side up, snuggling with the chicken pieces) and put them back in the oven for another 20-25 minutes (uncovered)

Check the chicken pieces are cooked and then scatter the chopped up tarragon leaves over the top.  Toss everything around to mix in the tarragon and then leave it to stand for a few minutes while the flavours infuse together. Serve.

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I would definitely make this again, and I would even make it for other people. I was a little worried about the tarragon because I don’t like aniseed, but it wasn’t strong so I really liked it! I’m not very good with  portion control, I accidentally made more than would usually be seen in an episode of Bodger & Badger and I was a little worried that the plates wouldn’t make it to the table… But they did! Hurrah!

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I think I could have put a little more wine and lemon juice in because there wasn’t much sauce, maybe a smaller dish would have kept the moisture in?  Yum!

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Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury 2012, ISBN 9781408828588)

three good things on a plate

Week 44: Polenta, Beans, Kale

So the other day my lover turned to me and said “you know I will actually eat soup, just not from a mug like my parents” this after 9 years or solid meals. So I set out to make a thick soup to lull him into soup-ness before making something runny.

The recipe I chose was from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things on a Plate, it looked lovely, I had everything except the beans and kale in already, and I could finally try making something with Kale after years of people telling me it’s a super-food. Word to the wise: kale definitely gives you certain super-human abilities, which aren’t for demonstrating in polite company.

Hugh says this is his take on a traditional Tuscan Peasant dish, without wanting to give away the ending, if I gave what I made to a Tuscan Peasant I’d wake up with a horse’s head in my bed.  Unlike most of the other recipes  that have gone wrong this year, I’m not entirely sure what I happened this time.

To serve four you will need olive oil (Hugh says normal oil and some really top-notch oil to drizzle afterwards), an onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 200g Kale, 850ml vegetable or chicken stock (Hugh recommends home-made stock or really good quality shop bought stock, but I used oxo cubes haha), 400g tine cannellini beans, 100g quick-cooking polenta, sea salt and black pepper.

Chop the onion and the garlic, drain the beans, and strip the kale from the tough stalks; you can cut the leafs into ribbons but I didn’t.  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan, sweat the onions on a medium heat for 10 minutes until soft and golden.

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Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add the stock and the beans and bring to a simmer.  Add the kale and return to a simmer for 5 minutes until it is tender.  Stir the polenta in and return to a simmer (stir well and the polenta wont go lumpy).  Simmer for another 3 minutes until it has thickened.

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I’m pretty sure this is where I went wrong.  Maybe my polenta was too quick cooking?  Anyway, I was expecting it to be somewhere between a stew and a soup and its not what I turned out with… my lover had got bowls and spoons out, came over to look into the pan and said “well we can have that on plates” and went to get some forks.  To serve spoon it into a warmed bowl and drizzle with your good olive oil.  Et Voila:

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Not much like soup… It wasn’t very nice.  I don’t know if it was the not top-notch stock that I used, or maybe I had faulty Kale, or maybe it was just too delicately flavoured for our burly pallettes?  It’s not a dish that I’ll make again.  Sorry Hugh.

But wait, there’s more…  I didn’t fancy having half a bag of kale hanging around in case I didn’t like it, so I cooked for four.  In the book Hugh says that to re-heat this add some more stock or boiling water to break up the polenta and heat in a pan until piping hot.

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After 2 days in the fridge I didn’t do that, I broke it into chunks and heated it in a frying pan with a knob of butter, and when it was cooked all the way through I served it up with some cooked chicken from the supermarket and a big dollop of Dijon mustard.

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Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury 2012, ISBN 9781408828588)

three good things on a plate

Week 36: Potatoes, Beans, Sardines

So the weather turned hot and within four seconds of it hitting 20 my lover said I should make a salad.  Neither of us are particular fans of lettuce, so I delved into the books and found Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s take on a Tuna Nicoise.

To lob a refreshing salad at four diners you will need: 500g new or salad potatoes (I used Charlottes), 200g French Beans, 120g tin sardine fillets in olive oil, lemon juice (from a lemon), extra virgin olive oil, stoned black peppers, and a hard boiled egg.

If you want you can use locally caught Cornish pilchards (or tinned ones) instead of sardines, and little gem hearts instead of french beans… and the olives and eggs are optional too.

Cut the potatoes into chunks and boil in salted water for 6-10 minutes.  Cut the beans in half and put them in with the potatoes for the last 3-5 minutes so that there’s still a bit of bite in them.  Drain the beans and potatoes and leave them to cool to room temperature.  If you’re adding eggs boil them at the same time as the potatoes.

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Tip the sardines in their oil into a bowl, add a pinch of salt, crack some pepper, and squeeze some lemon juice in and mash it all up into a rough puree.

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Tip the potatoes and beans into the bowl and toss it round so everything’s coated in the fishy oil, and then throw in the hard boiled eggs and olives.  Serve with some salad or maybe some bread (like we did, because I forgot to buy salad)

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This was delicious.  The sardines were much tarter than the usual tuna making the it much more refreshing than a usual tuna nicoise, it was brilliant as a meal in its own right, and I imagine it would be great to have at a barbeque too.

Yum!

 

Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury 2012, ISBN 9781408828588)

three good things on a plate

Week 34: Squash, Coconut, Chilli

I once knew a girl who spent time working at a butternut squash farm, and I’ve never been able to look at them without smirking ever since.  However, I was flicking through the books looking for something simple to cook and found this recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘Three Good Things on a Plate’ on the page after the lentil curry that stank my flat out (https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/week-20-lentils-spinach-potato/).

It meant getting over my squash-giggles, but this week I bought my first ever butternut squash.  It’s surprisingly difficult to buy a small one – small being 1kg.  Who knew?

The recipe makes enough curry to serve 4, I would recommend making it in the same quantities as the recipe and freezing half if there’s only two of you (unless you have half a tin of coconut milk handy).  To make this curry you will need: A Squash (800g-1kg, either a Butternut, Kabocha or Crown Prince Squash), Sunflower Oil, 1 Onion, 2 Garlic Cloves, 2-4 Mild or Medium Red Chillies, curry powder/curry paste, Coconut Milk, a Lime or a Lemon, Salt and Pepper.

Since making this I have found out that you can buy prepared chunks of butternut squash, and vegetarians have lots of hacks to make the preparation of them much quicker.  I had no prior Squash-knowledge, and spent ages wrestling the squash into peeled and de-seeded bite-sized chunks with my battered old 50p peeler.  While you’re at it, thinly chop the onion, garlic and chillies, and lay them out on your board as if you’re a Blue Peter presenter (see above).

Heat 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a large saucepan, and gently cook the onion over a medium heat for 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and the chillies and after two more minutes stir in a tablespoon (or two) of curry powder/curry paste and cook for a few more minutes.

Toss in the squash, season with salt and pepper and stir it round for a minute or two to make sure the squash is covered in the rest of the mix:

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Pour in the coconut milk, stir, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes.  After 15 minutes I tossed in some fine beans like Hugh suggested.  Every so often I gently stirred it, as directed.

When the squash is tender, turn off the heat and stir in the juice of a lemon or a lime; I chose a lime.

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Just as I started cooking the squash my lover came up to me and asked if I thought butternut squashes were like pumpkins, which he is insanely allergic to… but what’s a meal without a spot of peril?

Luckily dinner didn’t kill him, and it has been requested again.  I put 2 chillies in but next time I’m going to put 4 in, or use stronger curry powder, or both.  A delicious curry which makes the flat smell lovely.

Yum!

 

Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury 2012, ISBN 9781408828588)

three good things on a plate

Week 21: Aubergine, tomatoes, chickpeas

This is a dish that has completely exposed my lack of culinary knowledge.

In my mind I skipped into the kitchen to create a magical roast aubergine on a tomato-y, chickpea-y bed of loveliness.  Actually, it made a slightly spicy version of ratatouille; I had completely skimmed over the line “Like many dishes of its kind (ratatouille, for one)…” and kept the vision of the big meaty spatchcocked aubergine in my mind.

Somehow I held on to my mental image long after I cubed the aubergine… The recipe is another from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls: Three Good Things on a Plate.  I was hoping it would be as tasty as Lentils, spinach, potato (https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/week-20-lentils-spinach-potato/) without stinking my house out.

To go with the 650-700g of aubergines (egg plants), the recipe calls for sunflower/rapeseed/olive oil, a cinnamon stick, 350g cherry tomatoes, pinch of chilli flakes, a tin of chickpeas (400g drained and rinsed), 2 garlic cloves and the finely grated zest of one lemon.  As usual, I completely forgot to buy basil or mint leaves.

One thing I didn’t notice when I started cooking this at 7pm was that in total this dish takes over an hour in the oven (200c/gas 6), plus another fifteen minutes cooling time.  My lover’s force ten hunger nearly caused a disturbance to passing aircraft, and I ended up lobbing biscuits at him for the last half hour of cooking.

To start off, heat the oil and then toss the seasoned ( salt and pepper) aubergine chunks into the oil with the cinnamon stick, and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Add the cherry tomatoes and chilli flakes, and roast for another 20 minutes.  Drain the chickpeas and chop the garlic up small and put it back in the oven for the final 10 minutes.

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Grate the lemon zest and stir it in and leave to cool for 15 minutes.  I served on warm pittas but Hugh also recommends rice and green salad (which I also forgot to buy)

I can’t tell if it was the hanger talking, but halfway through his plate of aubergine-y ratatouille my lover turned to me and said “don’t make this again.”  A bit harsh I think… it was ok, I wasn’t crazy about it, but maybe with a nice steak or some chicken/duck and a peppery salad it would be lovely.  If I make it again it will either be for my mother  or if I ever do a hot buffet.  Sorry Hugh.

 

Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury 2012, ISBN 9781408828588)

Week 20: Lentils, Spinach, Potato

Three is the magic number, yes it is, it’s the magic number.  This is also Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s mantra for his latest book: “Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate”.  For my twentieth week of new recipes (although it’s my 22nd new recipe) I decided to use a new book, rather than cook something fancy from one of the books I’d already used; so I reached for Hugh!

three good things on a plate

The recipe uses lentils, vegetable stock, cooked potatoes, garlic, curry powder, spinach and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, and as usual it provided a number of firsts for me.

The first first, I had never cooked more than 25g of lentils before in one go.  My second first, I had never wilted anything – other than a bunch of flowers in my life.  It’s all go here.

I got the lentils on and they soon broke down into what the book calls a “dhal”.  I didn’t know what one was before cooking this – but I’ve got my eye on a few others already!  I fried the potatoes, added the garlic and curry powder and then added these to the lentils.

Then before serving, I wilted the spinach in batches and added it to the rest and stirred it round with some lemon juice (the second time I made it I used lime and I think I preferred lemon)

Served on some wholemeal pittas (as usual I completely forgot to buy in any salad) it was delicious.  I never though I’d like a plate full of lentils, but I wolfed it down.

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There is a sting in the tail though… it’s a really smelly dish to cook.  Casa-del-Crump is only a little apartment, and the whole place smelled of fried potatoes. I had to scrub everything down, febreze the soft furnishings and wash the towels to get rid of the smell.

Obviously it needs the crispiness of the fried potatoes, otherwise it would be like eating a strange leafy porridge, and suffer from “risotto syndrome”, which would be a shame.  Maybe I could sauté the potatoes instead, or use a different oil?  Until I’ve worked out a solution I’m not cooking it again, even though I really want to!

Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury 2012, ISBN 9781408828588)