Monday, July 28, 2008

Saucy Topics

If archives are still missing , scroll down and they will be found at the bottom, or type in archives in the search box at the top of the blog page, press 'search blog' and the archives should re-appear at the side.

It is said that (any) meat cooked on the bone has more flavour than if the bone is removed. If the bone has to be removed this is easier when meat has been frozen and is slightly thawed, rather than boned before freezing . Most meats are easier to handle when partially frozen, so even buying a piece of fresh fillet beef, worth chilling for 20 - 30 minutes in the freezer to make it far easier to slice really thinly and cook almost in seconds, useful for a Strogonoff, stir-fry or similar. The thinner the meat is sliced, the further it seems to go, so a case of buying less yet looking more.

Even though the protein content is still there, cheap poultry meat is virtually tasteless, so today am giving a selection of sauces that will definitely enhance a chicken dish. Some of these can be used for other meats so quite a useful collection to file away.
It is amazing how a few herbs and spices, and a couple or so other storecupboard ingredients can improve almost any dish, especially the economical ones. Look on it as chicken being a blank canvas (in these days one wonders if a real canvas would taste better) and the herbs/spices are the palette of colours (flavours) that when put onto the canvas (bird) will turn into one picture (dish) after another, and all different.

This first sauce is multi-purpose as it can be poured over chicken before cooking, or stirred into cooked Chinese noodles to serve as a side dish, used as a stir-fry sauce with vegetables and meat, and even drizzled over a crisp green salad as an alternative salad dressing.
oriental sauce:
1 tblsp sesame seeds
2 tblsp soft light brown sugar
1 tblsp soy sauce
1 tblsp sesame oil
1 tblsp sherry
half inch piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp water
Put everything together in a clean jam jar, screw on the lid and give a good shake to blend the ingredients. Keep in the fridge if not using all at once. Use within a couple of weeks, or freeze in small quantities.

creole sauce: serve with barbecued chicken, esp good with jerk chicken. Also with fish.
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped
1 each yellow and orange bell peppers
2 tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
1 tblsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tblsp pineapple juice*
Put the oil in a frying pan and saute the onions until softened. Meanwhile char the pepper skins (by oven roasting or over a gas flame) place these in a plastic bag, leave to steam/cool for 5 minutes, then peel off the skins (the skins can be discarded). Deseed the peppers and chop. Add to the onions with the remaining ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes. Blitz in a food processor or blender until a smooth sauce.
Note: It is always worth buying a can of pineapple slices, open the tin, remove rings and wrap and freeze separately, then freeze the juice in ice-cube trays. One (or even half a) slice can be removed and chopped to add to fruit salads or stir-fries, the juice can be used for a sauce such as this, or added to a fruit salad.

tikka sauce: use as a marinade for chicken or fish
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
5 tblsp plain yogurt
half tsp each: ground cumin, coriander and cayenne
1 tblsp tikka curry paste
half inch piece ginger, grated
Mix everything together in a bowl and brush over chicken or fish and leave to marinade for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight in the fridge.

honey and mustard sauce: smear over chicken kebabs or serve with veggie burgers. Thinned down this also makes a good salad dressing.
2 tblsp Dijon mustard
1 tblsp runny honey
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
Put all ingredients into a bowl and whisk together. Store in a screwtop jar in the fridge. Will keep up to a fortnight.

Use this next marinade for 12 - 16 chicken wings. Ideally, get into the habit of using ice-cube trays to freeze white wine, lemon and lime juices, other fruit coulis, even chopped fresh herbs, then whenever we wish to make a dish such as this, a lot of the necessary is there ready and waiting to be thawed. Even on Saturday, a bottle of red wine being opened to breathe, I was able to fill a couple of sections in the ice-cube tray. OK, not a lot, but it made very little difference to the amount in the bottle, and even just one cube dropped and cooked in a gravy would make a heck of a lot of difference to its flavour.
After marinading the wings for at least 4 hours in the fridge (or overnight, turning occasionally), bring back to room temperature and roast in the marinade, uncovered at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for half an hour (or slightly less), basting frequently until the chicken is tender and golden (check the honey isn't burning). Serve hot with lime wedges to squeeze over. Also eats well cold.

honey and lime marinade: serves 4
2 tblsp olive oil
2 tblsp dry white wine
6 tblsp lime juice
3 tblsp clear honey
1 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

Here is a complete recipe where chicken drumsticks (or could be thighs or both) are cooked in an orange sauce - thus giving an entirely different flavour to any of the above suggestions.
marinated orange chicken: serves 4
8 chicken drumsticks
for the marinade:
4 fl oz (120ml) orange juice
5 fl oz (150ml) Greek yogurt
5 fl oz (150ml) single cream
half inch fresh root ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 tblsp soy sauce
pepper to taste
Mix together the marinade ingredients into a shallow dish large enough to take the chicken in one layer. Prick the drumsticks all over with a fork, then place in the marinade. Turn so the chicken is evenly coated. Cover and leave for 12 hours in the fridge, turning the chicken once or twice.
Remove from the fridge a good half hour before cooking as the chicken needs to return to room temperature.
Remove the lid/covering from the chicken and bake in the dish (with the marinade) at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for one hour, basting every 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and golden. Serve with what you will.

buttery chicken with spicy nut sauce: serves 6
3 oz (75g) butter
3 oz (75g) cashew nuts
3 large or 6 small chicken breasts
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 inch fresh root ginger, grated
1 tsp mild curry paste
4 green cardamom pods, crushed (use seeds only)
5 fl oz (15oml) chicken stock
5 fl oz (15oml) double cream
salt and pepper
Put half the butter in a pan and when melted add one-third of the cashew nuts and fry until a pale golden colour. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the chicken breasts to the pan (few at a time) and saute them over medium heat for about 8 -10 minutes on each side until golden brown. As they are cooked, keep warm while the remaining breasts are cooked.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and fry the onion for five minutes, then stir in the garlic, ginger and curry paste and fry for a couple more minutes. Stir in the cardamom seeds, the remaining cashew nuts and continue frying until the nuts are turning golden. Cool slightly. Put this mixture into a food processor, start the machine at low speed, then while running, gradually add the stock. When pureed, return to the frying pan, stir in the cream and season to taste. Add the chicken and any juices on the plate. Heat gently, stirring until the sauce thickens slightly. Serve with rice, scatter the lightly fried cashews on the top.

Some years ago we were given a box of Italian delights brought back by a relative who had been on holiday. Two jars of large pieces of fruits in syrup were an Italian luxury, and intended to be eaten with cold meats, terrines etc. so here is a recipe for something similar that could be made at home.
mustard fruits: makes nearly 2 pints (1 litre)
9 oz (250g) dried apricots
9 oz (250g) dried pears
16 fl. oz white wine vinegar
1 lb (450g) gran. sugar
3 tblsp mustard seeds
2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp rock or sea salt
Soak the dried fruits in warm water for one hour. Drain (reserving 4 fl.oz/125ml of the liquid). Place the reserved liquid, the vinegar, sugar, mustard powder, seeds and salt into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the fruit and simmer for a further 15 minutes. Ladle into hot sterilised jars, and seal immediately. When cooled down, store in the fridge. Not suitable for freezing.