Tag Archives: chicken

Looking for Comfort Food? Quick, Over Here! Chicken, Butternut Squash and Feta Pie

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If I had my way, it would be Summer all year round. I love warm weather, summer dresses, ice cream and long evenings, barbecues, and brightly coloured nail polish on my toes. I wish I could banish cold weather, umbrellas,  wellies and especially snow shovels.

If I love Summer so much, what am I doing in Northern England, might you ask. Well, I shall let you know once I have worked out a plausible answer.

In the meantime, I shall offer you the first pie recipe of the season, because if I cannot change the weather, I can at least make it more bearable with a bit of comfort food.

You will need:

For the rough puff pastry:

500 g cold butter, diced

500 g flour

2 pinches salt

About 250 ml iced water

1 egg, beaten (for glazing)

For the filling:

1 small butternut squash, cubed

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chopped dried sage

2 chicken breasts, diced

200 g feta


Make the pastry. In a large bowl (or directly on a work surface), make a well with the flour, and add the butter and salt in the middle. Rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips, until the texture is grainy with the odd flake of butter. Add the iced water gradually, mixing with your hands as you go, until it forms a cohesive dough. Knead a few times, then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 20 min.

Roll the pastry out into a rectangle about 40cm x 20cm. Fold the top third down towards you, then fold the bottom third up on top of the rest. Give it a quarter turn then repeat the rolling and folding. Wrap in cling film again, and refrigerate for 20 min.

Repeat the rolling and folding as before, and refrigerate for 20 min again, still wrapped in cling film. The pastry is now ready to use, and will happily wait in the fridge for a few days. You will need half of it for this recipe, the other half will freeze for up to a month.

Make the filling. In a large sauté pan, heat up 2 tbsp olive oil. Gently fry the onion and garlic for about 1 min, add the sage and butternut squash, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Add a splash of water, cover, and cook on a low heat for about 20 min or until tender (add a bit more water if it starts to stick). Season the mixture, then tip into a bowl and reserve.

In the same sauté pan, heat up the last of the oil, and gently fry the chicken until brown on all sides and cooked through (about 4 to 5 min). Mix with the cooked squash and leave to cool for a few minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200⁰C/ fan 190⁰/ Gas 6.

On a floured surface, roll out the pastry to the thickness of a pound coin, and to a size slightly larger than your dish (I use a 28 cm Ø round pie dish).

Crumble the feta over the bowl containing the filling, mix well, then tip into a large pie dish.

Wet the edge of the pie dish, cover with the rolled out pastry. Using a sharp knife, cut away the extra pastry along the edge of the dish. Press all around the rim with the prongs of a fork, then cut a small hole in the middle.

Brush all over with eggwash, then if you wish, thinly score the pastry with wavy lines made with a knife, taking care not to cut all the way through.

Bake for about 20 min, or until nice and golden brown.



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Filed under Bakes, Mains, Meat dishes, Pies

Paprika Chicken with Peas and Lardons


Here is a nice, tasty and easy way to jazz up the classic trinity of chicken, peas and potatoes. A real crowd-pleaser, this dish is ideal for a relaxed meal with friends.

You will need (for 4 people):
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
4 tbsp plain flour
4 tbsp rapeseed oil (or other cooking oil)
2 large onions
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp paprika
800 g potatoes
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp tomato purée
A splash brandy (optional)
500 ml chicken stock

For the peas:
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 medium onion, chopped
200 g peas, fresh or frozen
80 g lardons
1 bay leaf
400 ml vegetable stock


Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized chunks. Peel the onions and cut into wedges. Peel the potatoes and cut in 2 or 3 depending on size.

In a large, heavy based pan or casserole, heat up half of the oil. Flour the chicken, then fry in batches until nicely coloured on all sides. Reserve on a plate covered with kitchen paper.

Warm up the rest of the oil in the same pan, add the onion wedges and the peeled garlic cloves and cook gently for about 2 min. Add the paprika, then the potatoes and stir well. Add the tomato purée, leave to cook for a minute, then add the vinegar and brandy.

Put the chicken back in, add the stock and bring to the boil. Cover, and leave to simmer for about 15 min, then take the lid off and simmer for a few more minutes until the potatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened. Check the seasoning, and adjust if necessary.

Meanwhile, make the peas:

In a saucepan, heat up the oil, and gently fry the lardons and onions. When the onions have softened a bit, add the peas and stir.

Add the vegetable stock, bay leaf, and a bit of black pepper. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer for about 10 min. Using a fine sieve, drain any remaining stock out, and transfer to a warm serving dish.


Filed under Mains, Meat dishes

A Chicken Walks Into a Pub… (Chicken Cooked in Lager and a Quick Mustard Sauce)


My husband, Mr Greedy Frog, is a lager snob. He likes premium German lager, and doesn’t care much for most of the run-of-the-mill brands commonly found in shops and pubs.

Now, before you get the wrong idea, I feel the need to tell you that he isn’t a snob about anything else; we are after all talking about a working-class lad from Cumbria, here. But I digress.

Anyway, against his better judgement, and in a laudable but misguided bid to save money, he bought some cheap lager the other week. And he really didn’t like it.

Now, this is where I come in. I have mentioned before that I don’t like waste, so there was no way this lager was ending up down the sink (sorry, sink!). Sadly, I don’t drink lager, I can’t stand the stuff. As a cooking ingredient however, I think it is rather brilliant.

I like to use it in bread, waffle batter, stews, you name it. In this instance, I had a chicken whose initial destiny was to end up roasted. Well, now it was going to drown in lager… (this wasn’t meant to sound sinister).

You will need (for 4):

1 chicken
1 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
2 heads fresh garlic (optional)
1 litre lager

In a pan large enough to hold the chicken, heat up the olive oil, then gently fry the chopped vegetables for a couple of minutes.image

Season the chicken cavity, and add to the pan with the garlic. Pour the lager on top (make sure it almost covers the chicken, add a bit more if needed).image

Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour, turning the chicken after 30 min.

This is ready when the chicken is cooked through and the cooking liquid has significantly reduced.image

The garlic heads will be nice and tender and ready to be spread on some fresh bread.

You can serve this with pilau rice and a quick mustard sauce:

In a small pan, quickly fry a chopped spring onion, add a large ladleful of cooking liquid from the chicken, boil for a minute then add 1 tbsp French mustard and 1 tbsp half-fat crème fraîche. Heat through, add some chopped parsley and take off the heat.


Filed under Mains, Meat dishes

Stuffed Chicken Breasts in Parma Ham, with Crispy Polenta “Chips”


You will need (for 2):

2 chicken breasts
6 thin slices of Parma ham
2 spring onions
A handful of mushrooms
2 heaped tbsp Greek yoghurt
100 g quick-cook polenta
20 g Parmesan, grated
2 heaped tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Pinch dried sage
Olive oil


Prepare the polenta: boil 400 ml water, then add the polenta and stir energetically for about 5 min, or until thickened. Add some seasoning and the Parmesan. Pour into a lightly oiled dish or tray, spread out as evenly as you can then leave to cool and firm up.

Prepare the stuffing: finely chop the spring onions and mushrooms. In a small frying pan, heat up about 1 tsp olive oil, then gently fry the onions, mushrooms, parsley and sage on a low to medium heat.image

When cooked through, season and tip into a small bowl and leave to cool for a few minutes. Add the yoghurt.

Lay the chicken breasts on a chopping board. With a sharp knife, cut horizontally through the thickest part of the breast, stopping about 1 cm short of the edge. Open the breast like a book, and flatten with a rolling pin. The aim is to have a fairly even thickness the whole way through.

On another board, lay 3 slices of Parma ham, overlapping them slightly. Place one chicken breast on them, and half of the mushroom mixture. image

Roll tightly, overlapping the ends of the ham slices so the mushroom mixture doesn’t escape. Repeat with the other breast.

Cut the polenta into strips the size of chunky chips, and lightly coat these in flour.image

Heat up two frying pans, lightly brushed with olive oil, on a medium heat. Carefully lower the chicken in the first one, cook on one side for about 5 min, then turn. Cook for about 15 min in total, making sure it is evenly coloured on all sides.

At the same time, lay the “chips” in the other pan and turn every few minutes to ensure an even, golden colour.

When the chicken is cooked through, rest under a foil sheet for 2 min, then serve with the chips.


Filed under Mains, Meat dishes

The Fourth Emergency Service (aka Chicken Soup)

I came home tonight to a sick husband. Not sick enough to see a doctor, but decidedly under the weather, and feeling rather sorry for himself.

Initial offers of food were declined, Mr Greedy Frog did not want any food.

At the suggestion of chicken soup though, he perked up and confirmed that such a meal would be very suitable indeed.

Which suited me fine, as I had leftover meat from yesterday’s Barbecued Chicken to use up.

After a bowlful of soup, Mr Greedy Frog declared himself to feel “much better”.

So there you have it: Chicken Soup IS the fourth emergency service. Fact.

You will need (for 2, with a bit extra):

2 tbsp olive oil
2 celery sticks
2 carrots
4 spring onions
1 garlic clove
1 litre hot chicken stock
About 200 g cooked chicken meat, shredded
1 bay leaf
1 small handful vermicelli or other small pasta
Chopped parsley, to serve.


Roughly chop the spring onions and celery. Slice the carrots. Cut the garlic in half.

In a large pan, heat up the olive oil, then add the chopped vegetables and the garlic. Stir, then cover and cook gently for a few minutes to soften.image

Add the stock and bay leaf, cover, then simmer for about 15 min.

Add the chicken, return to a simmer then add the pasta and leave to cook for the time stated in the packet.

Pour into bowls, top with the parsley, and prepare to witness a miraculous recovery or two.image


Filed under Meat dishes, Soups

Barbecued butterfly chicken

This has to be the easiest way to cook a chicken.

Don’t be daunted by the “butterfly” part; your butcher will do it for you if you ask nicely. Alternatively, just use some poultry shears or strong kitchen scissors, cut the chicken through the breast and press down hard to flatten it.

You will need (for 4 people):

1 chicken (free range if possible)
8 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp mustard (Dijon works best here, but you can always use a different type)
1 tsp oregano (dried is fine)
1 tbsp honey
A small bunch of parsley


Butterfly the chicken (see above).

Chop the garlic, them mix with all the ingredients except the parsley.

Put the chicken in a wide, deep dish and rub the marinade onto both sides.

Cover with cling film and chill for 24hrs.

The following day, light your barbecue. When ready to cook, put the chicken on and leave to cook for about 45 min to an hour, turning regularly.image

Sprinkle the chopped parsley on top, then carve and serve.

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Filed under Barbecue, Mains