Saturday, July 26, 2008

Less Costly Variations

With a dish such as Coq au Vin we would expect that to be costly, but there is a way round this. Don't use a whole bird, use either chicken drumsticks, chicken thighs or some of each. Of course we have the problem of paying for the wine, but you never know, someone may give us a bottle now and again, and we could have a go at making some ourselves. It is said that red wine vinegar plus a few cubes of sugar will make a substitute for wine in cooking, so maybe we could experiment a little.
As this dish can be made up to 2 days in advance, then reheated gently but thoroughly before serving, it is a useful recipe to file away.
Cheat's Coq au Vin: serves 4
half a bottle of full bodied red wine
8 chicken thighs or drumsticks
3 tblsp sunflower oil
1 oz (25g) butter
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 oz (25g) plain flour
2 bay leaves
1 sprig thyme
peel from one orange, all pith removed
12 plump prunes, stones removed
salt and pepper
Put the chicken into a dish add the herbs and pour over the wine. Leave for at least an hour (chilled overnight if possible). Remove from the marinade (reserving the liquid and herbs), pat dry and fry in the oil for a few minutes, turning occasionally, until coloured. Add the butter and continue frying until the chicken has caramelised and turned a dark brown colour. Add the tomatoes and cook on high for 2 minutes until they too begin to caramelise. Stir in the flour, and once all the lumps are dispersed, slowly pour in the marinade stirring to thicken, then add just enough water to cover the chicken. Add the herbs and pieces of orange rind, bring to the boil. Remove any scum that comes to the surface. Add the prunes and tip the lot into a casserole dish. Cover partially (not completely) and braise in a low oven (110C, 225F, gas 1/4) for a couple of hours. The liquid should not boil. When the chicken is tender enough to fall from the bones, remove from the oven, and - using a slotted spoon - take the prunes and chicken from the dish and keep warm. Put the juices from the dish into a pan and reduce to a gravy. Season to taste. Pour this over the chicken and prunes and serve with chosen vegetables.

This next recipe is virtually a kedgeree, and although this - in the olden days - was normally a breakfast dish, it eats well at supper time, and although normally served when freshly cooked, have found it also eats well cold. For economy use canned salmon, tuna or mackerel rather than the fish given in the recipe, although cooked kippers also work well. With many recipes, the major ingredient depends on whether we can afford it, and if not, ask ourselves what cheaper substitute could be use instead? Personally, if buying the pack of mackerel (as in the recipe), considering that the eggs give extra protein, would suggest using half the pack of mackerel (turn the rest into smoked mackerel pate or use for another dish) and add extra (cheaper) eggs. This dish is even faster to make if you have any left-over cooked rice that could be used.
Speedy Rice Supper: serves 4
10 oz (300g) long-grain rice
1 pint (600ml) hot vegetable or fish stock
1 oz (25g) butter
1 tblsp mild (Korma) curry paste
4 oz (100g) frozen peas, thawed and cooked
150g pack smoked mackerel, skinned
3 tblsp creme fraiche
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
freshly ground black pepper
Cook the rice in the stock until tender. Drain well. Melt the butter in a frying pan and stir in the curry paste . Break the mackerel into chunks, stir that in, add the peas and creme fraiche, heat through, season to taste and serve garnished with the eggs.