Monthly Archives: October 2013

Huevos Rancheros

…might not seem like an obvious brunch choice for a rainy Saturday in North London. Surely “ranch eggs” are made for eating under the open sky, as fuel for a hard session of mending fences or herding livestock or (and here my lack of ranch expertise betrays me) dressing salads.  Or, moving into more familiar (and indoor) territory, huevos rancheros, along with the works of Maya Angelou, provide sustenance for disenfranchised New Yorkers who sing about “La Vie Boheme” in Jonathan Larson’s “Rent”.

However, even for indoor-dwelling convention-bound Londoners like us, huevos rancheros is a very satisfying brunch – a sprightly (and relatively healthy) alternative to a fry up, with freshness from the tomato salsa, cooling influences of guacamole and sour cream against the flavours of eggs and bacon,  texture from crispy tortilla, melted cheese and velvety black beans.
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Chicken Noodle Soup Bowl

or, Roast Chicken: The Threequel

So, the roast chicken has been picked clean, and the leftover meat has been made into a pie, along with a few ladlefuls of stock. One last hurrah – a bowl of chicken soup, springy egg noodles, a confetti of fresh vegetables and a still-soft-but-not-liquid yolked poached egg. Astonishing that the bones and vegetable peelings still have enough flavour to make a robust and warming dinner – this is comfort food, but pretty healthy and almost fat free. It costs almost nothing and is a very quick meal – about 10 minutes to prepare.
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Chicken Pie

The sequel to the roast chicken meal, this is my first choice for comfort food. It can be made ahead, and even frozen, using leftovers – we always eat it at least once in the Lake District after a long day hiking because it’s great to be able to just throw in the oven, and in the time it takes to get out of all the rain soaked layers/ muddy boots and do a round of hot drinks, the pie is ready; puffed up and piping hot, just the thing to warm you up from the inside. Also, the Penrith chickens for sale at the local butcher are fantastic, princes amongst birds.
For similar reasons I’ve found it’s a useful meal to make to give to people, either for freezing or immediate eating. It also works well for families and children – I made it into hand pies once, using a slightly less liquid filling and shop bought pastry, and then used pastry trimmings to form their names on the pies. Shameless pandering.

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Roast Chicken and other spinoffs

Joyfully, two of our close friends recently had a lovely baby – and on these occasions, our church family like to provide the new family with a month of home-cooked meals. My favourite thing to make is a chicken pot pie, with roast chicken and lots of veg in a stock-enriched sauce and topped with flaky pastry. The night before we hand over the pie, we’ll have roast chicken for dinner – and for a few nights after we’ll have clear golden chicken soup (the sort that jellifies in the fridge in between meals), with noodles, chicken shreds and slices of pak choi and topped with croutons, spring onions, and chopped coriander and spring onions.

Recipe: Roast Chicken with Potatoes (and Chicken Soup)

This poaching-roasting idea is from the Guardian – not only does poaching provide a base for the stock, it helps guard against the chicken drying out, whilst the dried, butter basted skin crisps up beautifully.
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Pulled Pork

The annoying thing about the pulled pork is that it takes a cool 8 hours to make, but the wonderful things about it are that you can make it ahead of time, it serves a lot of people and it is really, really cheap. Like astonishingly cheap, given that boneless pork shoulder is one of the cheapest meats per kilo. At the moment, Morrisons have it for over 50% off, making it cheaper than their economy mince. The fancy butcher sells it for a bit more, but to be honest this heavily seasoned dish doesn’t require premium meat.

Pulled Pork

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