Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Indonesian Style Chicken (But why?)

I’m always a bit suspicious when something is a ‘style’ of something. Indonesian ‘style’ chicken? Why isn’t it just ‘Indonesian chicken’?

Maybe because I was cooking it and didn’t have half the ingredients and – as usual - didn’t actually follow the recipe. But still, the questions stands.

When is something a ‘real’ thing, and when is it just ‘in the style of…’
This is what it's meant to look like (courtesy Jason Thomas)

We had been invited to my in-laws house to celebrate a birthday. So while my husband did two gym classes and a swimming lesson, I marinated and cooked a kilo and half of chicken and baked and decorated a chocolate mousse birthday cake. With a baby and a three year old trying to ‘help’.

Hardly seems fair, does it. But that’s really a story for another blog….

Indonesian style chicken involves marinating chicken pieces in garlic, buttermilk, soy sauce and sambal oelek. Except I didn’t use the sambal oelek because the kids would freak out. First gong.
On no planet does this buttermilk and soy marinade look delicious

Then I read that you were meant to take the skin off the chicken pieces. I hate skinning chicken, partly because I love eating chicken skin, so taking it off before it’s roasted just seems cruel and unusual. Also because skinning chicken is messy and disgusting. So I ignored that part. Second gong.

The 3 year old was very proud of her cake decorating skills

After three hours (during which I made a layer cake and chocolate mousse) I mixed together self-raising flour, lemon pepper and chicken salt in a bowl.

I was meant to be mixing plain flour, cayenne pepper, lemon pepper and celery salt. Third gong.

Would someone explain what celery salt is?
Too early for wine unfortunately...
Then the wet soggy chicken goes into the flour making a huge mess on your hands just at the exact time the baby starts eating power cords. At this point, KFC was looking very appealing but I persisted.

The recipe told me to put the chicken on a wire rack and bake for 30-40 minutes. So for some reason I did this, but I put the wire rack over a water bath. The recipe didn’t tell me to, and I’m not sure why I would want nice crispy roast chicken to be steamed over hot water. Let’s just say, it took a bit longer than 40 minutes to cook, but gee it was moist inside.
Mine didn't turn out as orange-looking, must be the absence of chilli
And the three year ate two drumsticks before I dragged her away protesting.

My thoughts

The cookbook says this is a great alternative to fast food and is perfect cold for picnics. I don’t doubt this for a second, but there is also a reason why they call KFC ‘fast’ food.

Just saying…
They were finally done around half past twelve

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Steak and Guinness Pie (Preparing for the Worst)

I was preparing for the worst.

I had prepared for the fact that I would probably have to take three children to the bottle shop to buy my can of Guinness. It’s always a good look to have as many children as possible with you when you are buying booze.

Anything topped with pastry is my friend (image courtesy Jason Thomas)

I had also prepared for the fact that I would spend hours cooking and that no one under the age of ten would look twice at dinner. It would be brown and chunky. It would have obvious chunks of mushroom. It would be difficult to convince them that the meat was ‘chicken’.

Imagine my surprise that neither of these worst case scenarios came to pass.

First I got to pop into the Bottle-O on my own (where I had a lovely chat with the bloke who runs it, with whom I am practically on a first name basis. Cough. He asked me where my kids were.)

Since it was a single can of Guinness, I simply stuck it in my handbag. I realised afterwards that it looked a bit suss, either that I pinched it, or that I was a bit of a drunk. Only one of those is true.
Actually... yuck
I also bought a great hunk of chuck steak, perfect for slow cooking, some perky button mushrooms and some fresh rosemary.

I remember having Guinness Pie almost two decades ago, with a good friend who frequented his local Irish pub with gusto. He introduced me to Guinness Pie that night, but I actually think that what I made was even better. I just wish I could have shared it with him.

However, I am pleased to say that my children ate this pie with gusto. Surprisingly so, since it’s not really a good looking pie: brown, with brown lumps and brown gravy.

But there are some surprise ingredients: red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, seeded mustard, tomato paste and best of all: cranberry sauce.

Ok, I didn’t actually have cranberry sauce, but I had been to Ikea so I had an almost full jar of Lingonberry jelly. Same thing, right?

Oh, and did I mention the bacon? This is how I got my kids to eat the pie in the first place. I told them it was bacon pie.
Is there any better way to start a meal than with bacon and onion?
There were a few hairy moments when I opened the can of beer and the whole thing practically exploded and I lost half of it (I forgot about it rolling around in my handbag for an hour). But for some reason I had the forethought of putting the can in the sink so it mostly just went in there, where it conveniently softened up a half-eaten bowl of Weetbix from breakfast that had hardened into concrete.

Then when I tipped the requisite 300ml into the frypan with the bacon and chuck steak it fizzed up rather alarmingly and I thought I would be cleaning it off the floor, but it subsided.
This was the last photo in the sequence, the others were blurry and steamy as the beer threaten to takeover the entire kitchen
The recipe suggests simmering everything over a low heat for an hour and a half, but I have trust issues. Not sure if it’s my stovetop I don’t trust or me I have problems with. I felt more secure popping the whole thing into a casserole and letting it cook in the oven for a couple of hours.

When the pie was safely cooking in the oven I glanced over at the almost empty can of beer. It would be a shame to waste it I thought, and it was after twelve o’clock. I took a small sip.

Bleugh. I hoped the pie doesn’t actually taste of Guinness, I thought.

I briefly considered using a mashed potato topping instead of puff pastry (for ‘health reasons’), but then I remembered who I was. I topped it with pastry and had the mash on the side.

This was my finished pie. Doesn’t look too bad, does it.
Would have been even better if the pastry overlapped the sides

My thoughts

It was a winner. All those interesting flavours luckily combined to make a slightly sweet genuinely moreish pie, that everyone ate and thank god, didn’t actually taste of Guinness.