Sunday, 13 May 2012

Auntie Vi's Honey Chilli Chicken

My husband sacrificed a lot to come and settle in Somerset when we got married - he left his job, his family and friends, and the country he was born in! But most important and sacrificial of all were the foods he left behind, staple favourites which cannot be found here in England. Namely:
Pear-picking Porky and Polly Pineapple ice lollies from Dale Farm (no, not the travellers' site, it's a dairy!)
Veda bread (malted bread, no fruit, delicious toasted with butter and cheese)
Tayto crisps (cheese and onion crisps that taste like no other!)
Fifteens and top hats (tray bakes which grace the table at every single child's birthday party)
Sausage and egg sodas (no, not a drink - sausage and egg on a toasted soda bread)
And..... honey chilli chicken

Honey chilli chicken can be found on any Chinese takeaway menu in Northern Ireland. It is one of the most popular dishes, and yet it seems to be exclusive to Ulster. Since moving to England hubby has yet to see it served in any Chinese restaurant either here or in Devon where my parents live. He has had frequent tantrums about this, believe me. So in a vague attempt to shut him up placate him, we have endeavoured to make our own. This recipe is from his Auntie Vi, so it is authentically Norn Iron! There is a lot of chopping and preparation but I personally love that. Once it is all ready this dish is fairly simple to make.

Honey Chilli Chicken
(serves 4 - 6)
Cut up some chicken - you can use any type you want. Auntie Vi recommends drumsticks, we used thighs. You could use breast as well. As long as you have enough for 4-6 portions (we used 12 thighs). Cut it up nice and small so it is bitesized, then toss it in some flour seasoned liberally with salt and pepper.

Heat 3 TBSP sunflower or groundnut oil in a wok or deep saucepan. Fry the chicken in batches and then put in an ovenproof dish. The flour will make it nice and crispy. Just fry it til it is brown and then transfer to a 150degC oven to keep warm. 

Discard the oil from your wok, give it a wipe, and put in 2 TBSP of fresh oil. Fry 2 chopped onions, 3 crushed garlic cloves, and 3 tsp grated ginger until soft. Add 5 TBSP honey, a diced red pepper, a diced green pepper, and 2 chopped red chillis (we deseeded ours, you might feel a little more brave!). Fry for a few moments.

Mix 1 TBSP soy sauce, 4 tsp cornflour, 2 TBSP lemon juice, 3 tsp hot chilli powder, and 1 pint water in a jug (we did this beforehand so it was ready to go) and pour into the wok. Lower the heat and simmer gently until the sauce has thickened. Give it a taste to see if you want to add more honey or chilli. 

Pour the sauce over the chicken and put back in the oven for 10 minutes to bubble and thicken.

Serve with boiled rice. 

Hubby declared it a success, and although it still doesn't beat a takeaway from Little Fat Buddha in Ballyhackamore, it's a close second!

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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Pot Roast Meatloaf

I promised you this recipe and here it is. This meal was amazing, you need a bit of time to prepare it but it is well worth it.

It is from Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food book, which Jewhurst got as a Christmas present from his mum. I like Jamie's recipes - he likes to use lots of ingredients to get maximum flavour, and his style of writing is easy to read.

Meatloaf is one of those dishes I always pictured to be processed and nasty, until I went to America and had some for Sunday dinner with garlic mash and green beans. I realised that meatloaf is a wholesome and tasty dish, made with pure minced beef rather than offcuts and fillers. It's basically a giant homemade beef burger, and therefore it didn't take much to convince Jewhurst to make it!

Jamie Oliver's Pot Roast Meatloaf (Jewhurst Family Version!)

Pre-heat your oven to full whack. Heat some olive oil in a pan and fry off one onion, along with a teaspoon each of ground coriander and ground cumin. Once soft, put in a large bowl to cool.

Meanwhile, crush 12 Jacobs Cream Crackers in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or blitz in a food processor. Tip into the bowl of onions, and add 2 tsp dried oregano, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, and 500g minced beef. Crack in one egg and some seasoning, then with clean hands mix well. 

Place the meat mixture in a baking dish and mould into a fat rugby ball shape. Smear with some olive oil and put in the oven, turning the temperature down straight away to 200degC. Bake for 30 mins.

Meanwhile fry another onion in some olive oil, along with some garlic and a chopped red chilli. Sprinkle 1 tsp smoked paprika and some seasoning. When soft, tip in 2 tins chopped tomatoes, 2 TBSP each of Worcestershire Sauce and balsamic vinegar. I also added a sprinkle of sugar. It is here that Jamie adds chickpeas, but instead we opted for parboiled new potatoes cut into small chunks. Bring the mixture to the boil, then simmer on a low heat.

After the meatloaf has been in the oven 30 mins, bring it out and spoon the sauce around the edge. Put 12 rashers of streaky bacon over the meatloaf and the sauce, and return to the oven to cook for another 10-15 mins or until the bacon is crispy.

Slice up and serve with the sauce, and a nice dressed green salad.

Snapped just before Mum got stuck in!

This should serve 4 - 6, although there was 4 of us and not much left over.....! We are definitely making this again, not just because it is great for visitors but also because I reckon it would freeze brilliantly. No doubt you will see this on Meal Planning Monday posts in the future!

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