Sunday, 5 February 2012

This month I have mostly been eating ………

Bill Granger. Well, not Bill himself but some of his delicious recipes from his book Bill’s Everyday Asian. Yum yum scrum. I actually have his Sticky Soy Roast Chicken in the oven as we speak. It’s really nice to be exploring some new flavours and some new ingredients – I think I had got a little too obsessed with Yotam and started to refuse to cook anything unless inspired by him.

We have had two dinner parties this year and both I cooked food from this book – went down a storm. I also think the recipes I chose were perfect for this time of year – quite deep, rich flavours. I would highly recommend the Sticky Soy Roast Chicken - voted “Best Roast Chicken EVER” by my 69 year old father, and he has put away a few roast chickens in his time I can tell you! The Beef Rendang was also delicious, Asian comfort-food and great to make in advance, stick in the freezer and bring it out on a Friday night when you don’t have time to cook from scratch. His veggies are also really great.
However with the high of the main course came the low of the pudding. I plumbed some serious pudding depths here. I had a fight with some gelatine leaves which ended in a snotty mess attached to a wooden spoon and some revolting overly sweet lime cordial which was meant to be little refreshing Lime Jellies.  Not my finest hour.

Sticky Soy Roast Chicken
1.5kg chicken
100ml oyster sauce
4 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp soft brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, chopped

Now Bill doesn’t say anything about marinading the chicken but I do – upside down in a bowl so that the breast sits in the marinade rather than just draining off.
Prick the chicken deeply all over with a fork. Blend the oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, garlic and onion in a food processor until finely chopped. Rub the marinade all over the chicken inside and out, reserving some for basting. This is where I put it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Preheat the oven to 200C / gas mark 6. Put the chicken, breast side up, in a large roasting tray. Roast for 20 mins then brush with the marinade. Repeat this step. Roast for another 30 mins or until the juices run clear when you prick the thickest part of the thigh (cover the chicken with foil if it is browning too quickly). Personally I think a roast chicken takes longer than 50 mins to cook so I would give it at a least another 20 mins, but up to you. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving – very important – don’t rush your chick! I think this goes really nicely with basmati rice to soak up the spare juices.

Beef Rendang - Serves 6

2 red onions, roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbsp grated ginger
6 large red chillies, roughly chopped – 3 deseeded, 3 whole (I did 4 as I am a wimp with hot food)
3 lemon grass stalks, white part only, roughly chopped
3 tbsp lightly flavoured oil (sunflower, groundnut)
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp turmeric
2kg stewing steak, diced
400ml tin coconut milk
400ml water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp tamarind paste or lime juice
2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp soft brown sugar

Place the onion, garlic, ginger, chillies and lemon grass in a food processor and pulse to a paste. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the paste and the cumin, coriander and turmeric and cook, stirring for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
Add the stewing steak and cook over a high heat for 4-5 minutes or until the beef is just sealed. Add the coconut milk, 400ml water, cinnamon sticks, tamarind paste, salt and sugar and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for 2 – 2 ½ hours. Stir occasionally so that the meat doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan (a couple of pieces stuck when I did it and they were nasty!). Cook until a lot of the liquid has evaporated or really until you think it looks nice and tastes nice. Serve with basmati rice and Steamed Asian Greens.

Steamed Asian Greens – Serves 2
2 tbsp light flavoured oil (sunflower, groundnut)
Large handful Broccolini, trimmed
3 tbsp chicken stock
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp caster sugar
Handful crispy shallots

Bring 1.25 litres of water to the boil in a large saucepan and add 1 tbsp of the oil. Blanch the broccolini for 2 minutes then drain. Do not be tempted to cook for any longer unless you like to eat your greens well done. Transfer to a serving plate.

Heat the remaining oil in a wok over a high heat. Add the stock, soy sauce, mirin and sugar and season with sea salt to taste. Bring to the boil and pour over the broccolini. Scatter with crispy shallots and serve.