When it comes to cooking, I’m not really an improviser, not a jazz cook, I don’t slosh in a bit of this and a bit of that to see what culinary delight might occur, I just do what Jamie Oliver says. If I don’t, the result will likely be a congealed mess stuck to the bottom of a pan.
A few years ago, I was given the Heston Blumenthal cook book; it was like doing GCSE chemistry and about as much fun. And what is the point of cooking chips three times?
But on Tuesday of this week, there was revolution in the air. I actually made up a dish. The wife had said, there’s some chicken thighs and a couple of courgettes in the fridge, see what you can rustle up. So, I did and it was not a complete coq-up. Certain members of the family (the daughter) who are not slow to criticise dad, went so far as to say it was quite good.
With that kind of full-throated endorsement ringing in my ears I thought I’d share this ground- breaking concoction with you.
So here it is: Jim’s Kickin’ Chicken
- Chicken thighs 500 grams
- 2 courgettes
- Can of tomatoes (not sliced)
- Half an onion
- Harissa Paste
- Plain Yoghurt
- Fresh coriander
- Basmati rice 250 grams
First up, scoop some harissa paste into a largish glass bowl. I wasn’t paying much attention here, so how much harissa paste I’m not sure – let’s say a couple of good dollops. Open the yogurt pot and ladle in a similar amount and mix thoroughly with the harissa. Now put the chicken in among the gloop and smear all over. This is quite messy but acts as a good moisturiser if your skin is a little dry.
Pour a squirt of olive oil into a frying pan and braise (is that the right word?) the chicken thighs; this should take three or four minutes. Don’t make the pan too hot, otherwise the chicken and its gloop will burn. Once done take the chicken thighs out of the pan and put them where the dog can’t get at them.
Get the frying pan going again – hang on I’ve forgotten to tell you to put the oven on, so do that now to say 175 degrees, no idea what that would be if you were using gas. Once the olive all in the pan is spitting a bit, slice in half an onion, cook for five minutes and then add the sliced courgette and then cook for another five. Don’t slice the courgettes too thin or they’ll turn to mush.
Now you need a lidded pot that you can put in the oven, I’m thinking stew pot here. Put the chicken in the pot along with the onions, courgettes and all the gloop, add the tin of toms and half a can of water. Season with pepper and salt and heat it all up on the stove.
I once heard Jamie Oliver say that sliced canned tomatoes were very bitter and it was better to always use unsliced. I have no idea if this is true, but I follow this rule religiously and actually look down on people who buy sliced tomatoes.
Once all the ingredients in the pot are hot (perhaps you can see the liquid bubbling a bit) give it all a good stir, pop on the lid and ram it in the oven. Leave it there for around an hour, stirring occasionally. (Don’t let it dry out, perhaps it might be better to cook for slightly longer at 150 degrees. Look I’m not the expert here)
By now you will be getting hungry so put on the basmati rice, this is the stuff that doesn’t take too long to cook. Chop up the coriander, take the pot out of the oven and sprinkle the chopped coriander over the contents, giving a final stir and checking whether you need more salt. Dish up and graciously accept the praise that your guests will be heaping upon you as they heap second helpings on to their plates.
Of course, I have a sneaking suspicion that when I try this dish again it will all turn to ashes, but we live in hope. Do let me know how you get on.