Roast Chicken with Bacon and Leeks and Teaching the Boy to Cook

I have wicked spring fever!  It looks like winter is leaving early this year.  Obviously this could change but I am really hoping it doesn’t.  It is so beautiful out.  And it so nice to be out of the windowless office.

A few weeks ago my son mentioned he wanted to cook dinner for us so we had him go through our cookery books to see what he would like to try out.  He found a recipe for roast chicken that had a bacon stuffing with seaweed.  With the exception of me, no one else would want seaweed and I don’t like roasting birds stuffed.  So we brain stormed and came up with our own recipe.  We finally had time to do it last night and it was a lot of fun to cook with him.

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 1 2016

Preheat the oven to 325F/150C.  Place the chicken in a shallow roasting pan.  Add water and a bit of sherry to the pan.  Coat the chicken with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.  This chicken was just under 4lbs so we cooked it for an hour and a half.

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 2 2016

Cut up 4 rashers of streaky bacon and render it into the skillet.  While I was doing this my son was working on his knife skills getting the mushrooms and leeks ready.  He’s 11 so I handled the raw meat and he took care of everything else.  I was impressed with how he did.  🙂

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 3 2016

Drain excess bacon fat then add the leeks and mushrooms to the skillet.  Saute until the leeks have softened then add about a cup to a cup and a half of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Add a couple of tablespoons of cognac and about the same amount of stone ground mustard.  Stir well to blend and simmer to reduce by a third or so.

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 4 2016

I had my son taste test to see if it was balanced.  I have to say he has a really good palette.  So I had him adjust the flavours as needed.  He did really well with that!

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 5 2016

Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes before carving.  We served it with roast potatoes and parsnips.

I really enjoyed spending one on one time with him doing this meal.  He’s a neat kid.  🙂

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Pollo a La Española

If you are a parent you know watching your kids grow is fascinating, sometimes frustrating, and most of the time a wonderful thing to watch.  You also know it isn’t a continuous curve of growth.  They’ll tick a long and suddenly there is a leap forward.

Our daughter tried out for the Honors Band for our state.  They pick the best 8th graders to participate.  Last week they had the day of rehearsal and they practice all day long before the concert.  A lot of hard work went into the pieces they performed and I was blown away at how well they did.  The music was very technical and sounded excellent.  I was sitting there thinking how far she has come in just a few years.  She is really coming into her own on so many levels.  It is a joy to watch.

Our son has been making leaps of his own.  We had a great parent teacher conference last week.  He’s seeing the result of hard work in his report card and his teacher is encouraging him to speak up for the class.  Apparently a student at school was wiping the white board and posters have gone missing.  So the principal made an announcement to the whole school that the 5th grade can no longer move about the school without a teacher.  My son thought this terribly unfair so his teacher is encouraging him to meet with the principal to discuss this. What a great opportunity!  His teacher said to us that he was confused about the way the issue has been handled so we are all curious what the answers are going to be.

On to the food!  🙂

I bought some chicken thighs to do a Spanish dish called Pollo a La Española that I found in a cookbook I found at our library sale.  It’s called The Complete Spanish Cookbook by Pepita Aris.

It’s a mild but flavourful dish and relatively easy to make during the week when it is hectic.

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

In a large skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Rub paprika on all sides of the chicken thighs and season with salt and pepper.  Pan fry both sides to brown.

Pollo a La Espanola 1 2015

Place in the oven to finish cooking.  In the skillet add about 3/4 cup of finely chopped onion, 3-4 cloves of garlic chopped, and a 1/2 cup of pancetta.  I use uncured pancetta and sometimes it doesn’t have the full saltiness.  Just something to keep in mind when adjusting the seasoning.

Polo a La Espanola 2 2015

Cook until the onions soften then add a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes and a few teaspoons of fresh thyme.  I added this because we didn’t have any parsley like the recipe called for.

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Stir and bring to a simmer.  Add about a cup of chopped bell peppers.  I love how colourful this dish is.

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Adjust the seasoning with paprika and the salt and pepper.

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Serve with rice of your choice and enjoy!

On a side note, it seems I can no longer do my posts in the classic mode.  Not thrilled with that and I’ve noticed that pictures I post are showing as smaller than they showed before.  The files sizes are the same as before.  Any idea on how to fix that?

And The Beet Goes On….

We finally got to watch our daughter’s cooking show episode last night!  So exciting.  🙂  She did a fabulous job and we’re really proud of her.  And Luca does a great job with the kids.  What a wonderful way to get more kids cooking.

Here is the episode:

Kids in the Kitchen

I tried to insert from youtube but it wouldn’t do it so another thing for me to figure out!  I love technology but sometimes it doesn’t like me.  Ok, a lot of times.  Ah well.

Here are a few stills from that episode as well:

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In honor of her doing this I decided to be inspired by the dishes and make something with beets.  Now, I do not like beets.  Right up there with Brussels sprouts. But when I tasted the beet puree made in this show I liked it!  I find beets lack brightness but this was different.  Because my husband and son really don’t like seafood I decided to do roast chicken with a beet puree.  I did this with my own twist but it went very well with the chicken.  And my husband was happy because he loves beets but it doesn’t find it’s way to the table.  It will now.  🙂

Beet puree 1 2014

The beets will take a bit to cook so I started them early.  I peeled them and cut them up into chunks.  I used three beets because I knew whatever I didn’t use for the puree would be eaten by my husband.  In a saucepan add the beets and about 2 cups of chicken stock.  Season with salt and pepper then add about 1/3 cup of white balsamic vinegar.  Bring to a simmer and cook until tender.

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Meanwhile mince some fresh garlic and slowly cook in olive oil until tender.  I used 2 large cloves.

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Once that is done set that aside.  To prep the roast chicken legs I coarsely chopped several garlic cloves.

Beet puree 4 2014

In a baking dish I added the legs, rosemary and the garlic.  Seasoned with salt and pepper.  I added a bit of water and some white balsamic vinegar.  I baked this at 375F/190C covered until mostly cooked then uncovered to brown the chicken. This keeps it nice and moist with all the flavours.

Beet puree 5 2014

To do the puree I thought I’d save on dishes and tried to use the blender we already had out.

Beet puree 6 2014

That failed so I switched over to the food processor.  I wanted to keep this somewhat rustic so I pulsed the beets then added some olive oil, the garlic, and a bit of the liquid from the saucepan that I cooked the beets in.  It’s not the traditional smoothness that you would call a puree but just a smidge coarse.  If you want it smoother add more liquid until you have the consistency you would like.

Beet puree 7 2014

I served it with roasted potatoes and parsnips with a bit of corn.  The brightness of the beets worked well with the garlic rosemary on the chicken.

It was such a fun process to watch our daughter do this show and to share it with everyone.  And yes, Luca, I will be doing a post on the grilled cheese.  😉

Leftover Roast Chicken? Soup Is On Of Course!

I know it’s not very original to make homemade chicken soup after doing a roast chicken but it tastes so good!  My husband has conference calls every Tuesday evening and we usually do pizza but I wanted to do something different.  Soup was perfect because I could make it early then it was ready when he was done.  I’m usually very hungry by then!  So is he to be honest.

Over the weekend I made an Apple Sage Roast Chicken and there is still quite a bit of chicken on it.  I need to use more of the chicken so I can use the bones to make stock.  As it is a local farmed chicken it is a little more expensive than store bought so I use everything.  Which you should do anyway but the motivation is a bit higher!  And with the USDA stating China can muck about with our chicken and not label it as such I am more grateful than ever I can get local meats!  Honestly what were they thinking?

Chicken soup is one of those super easy meals to make and if you have leftover gravy from the roast even better.  Half your work is done for you.  During the week that is perfect.

I prepped the ingredients first as it only takes a few minutes to get everything in the pot.  I cut off the chicken from the roast and chopped up 4 cloves of garlic, half an onion, a carrot, and some pearl mushrooms.  The mushrooms are local and I hadn’t seen them until recently but they have a light flavour.

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Heat up some olive oil in a pan and saute the garlic and onions for a few minutes then add the chicken.  Cube some potatoes.  Ours came from one of the small bins of potatoes growing in our garden.  It’s funny how small some will come out but I still use them.

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Add in the potatoes and carrots and saute for a couple of minutes then add just over a cup of leftover gravy.  Add water until the veg is covered.

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Bring to a boil and simmer til the potatoes are cooked through.  This takes less than 15 minutes to throw together.  And because the gravy was full of flavour so was the soup.

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We served it with my husband’s homemade rosemary bread.  It was so good.  I love it when he makes bread.  🙂

 

Apple Sage Roast Chicken – Autumn is Here!

A couple of weeks my good friend Corrie did up a roast chicken with an apple and some onion.  It was really good so when my aunt requested chicken of some sort for her birthday dinner I knew I wanted to do a version of that chicken.  I love a good roast and it is finally cool enough to dust off the ovens properly and start exercising them again!

I’ve mentioned before I can’t believe there are 12 of us now in the family.  Problem is all the kids are still growing and it was a bit of a puzzle to get us all round the table.  We have sort of a kids table dog-legging off the main table so we all fit in the dining room but that was a tight squeeze for the kids as well.  The crazy thing about our house is while it’s large, it’s a lot of hallways and regular size rooms.  But given how fast the all the kids are growing (my youngest nephew will need his own chair soon!) we need to get that sorted.

It is wonderful having everyone together.  It is hard with all of us so busy but so important too.  My daughter made a fabulous cheesecake.  I’ll need to have her make it again so I can do a post on it.  And well, so we can eat it again.  🙂

This is a great dish for a large gathering as it is easy to put together.  My sister and mum brought starters.  We did up some roast potatoes, Brussel sprouts, and carrots for the veg.

Preheat the oven to 325F/160C.  I chopped up some fresh sage from our garden and half an apple.  The dogs got the other half.  They were looking very hopeful.

Apple sage roast chicken 1 2013 Apple sage roast chicken 2 2013

In the roasting pan I place the chicken add the sage and apple, chop a bit of onion and add that with a cup of water and half a cup of white wine.  I drizzle some olive oil over the chicken and season with salt and pepper.

Apple sage roast chicken 3 2013

I cover mine so the chicken stays moist for all but the last 20 minutes or so.  I do a bit of broil to bring up the skin and the meat is tender and moist at the end.  Cooking time is about 25 minutes per pound.  I do baste a few times.

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Remove the chicken from the pan and cover with tin foil to keep warm.  Bring the gravy mixture to a boil and add a bit of flour mixed into the water to thicken.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Allow it to boil for a few minutes to make sure the flour is cooked.

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Pour the gravy over the chicken and enjoy.

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This had a light taste of sage and apple to it.  It came out quite delicate but worked really well with the chicken.