Piri piri chicken

Last night I went for a personal training session with some friends from work. It was HARD WORK. I had previously planned to just cook some pasta thing for dinner (most likely with lots of cheese), but I was feeling particularly glowing and virtuous after my workout, and decided I didn’t want to ruin all my hard work by stuffing my face with cheese (I KNOW, I never say that).

Instead, I decided to stop off at the supermarket on my way home to stock up on nice healthy things. My endorphin rush coupled with the nice warm weather meant that I wanted something light, fresh, and healthy. There is nothing I loathe more than bland low-fat food, so in order to avoid all trace of blandness I decided to grab the ingredients for piri piri chicken.

The recipe below is taken from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. However, I don’t cook the chicken in the same way and don’t make the same accompaniments as he does. Basically I just used the recipe for the sauce, and improvise the rest!

I served this with sweet potato wedges, guacamole and slices of cucumber. It turned out to be the perfect meal for my mood; I love it when that happens. Also the guacamole uses up most of the things you have leftover from the sauce (the chilli ( if you’re like me and use hardly any) the red onion and the lemon) – how economical!

Piri piri chicken

Serves 2

2 skinless chicken breasts

½ small red onion

1 clove of garlic

1 bird’s-eye chilli (I actually used half a normal red chilli)

1/2 tbsp sweet smoked paprika

Zest and juice 1/2 lemon

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

A bunch of fresh basil

A splash of water

Guacamole:

1 ripe avocado

1/4 red onion

1/2 red chilli

Juice 1/2 lemon

Sea salt

Sweet potato wedges:

2 sweet potatoes

Olive oil

Method:

First thing I do is cut the sweet potato into wedges, drizzle them with olive oil and put on a baking tray and into the oven, heated to about 200 degrees.

The next thing, add all of the ingredients for the piri piri sauce into a food processor (except the chicken, obviously) and blitz until it’s a pulpy paste. Take the chicken breasts and score them with a knife through to about half the thickness of the meat. This will make sure the flavour really gets in there. Then arrange the chicken in a roasting dish and pour over the sauce, working it in to the cuts you just made.

Put the chicken in the oven, and leave to roast for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

For the guacamole, cut the avocado in half, remove the stone, and scoop out the flesh. Put it in a bowl and mash it with a fork until it reaches the consistency you want for your guacamole (some like it chunky, some like it almost smooth). Chop the chilli and the red onion very finely and add to the mashed avocado with a good pinch of sea salt and a good squeeze of lemon. Mix everything together and have a taste – if it needs more of anything then tweak it until it becomes a party in your mouth.

The chicken is ready when the meat is cooked through, and the sauce has thickened into a kind of paste. Serve it with a good spoon of the sauce over the top, the wedges and the guacamole and cucumber slices. You could, of course, have some sour cream as well but it wouldn’t have fit in with my good mood!

I also managed to make an amazing lunch by boiling some new potatoes and roasting half a red pepper, and mixing them with leftover chicken, some leftover sliced red onion and some cucumber chunks.  I’ve also saved some guacamole, and we shall be enjoying some special alone time together later. Yummmmm.

Little Bubbas

I have been craving a visit to Ed’s Easy Diner for ages now, and despite talking about it the other night, we decided against driving the 2 hours to London, having an Ed’s and then driving the 2 hours back (yes, if you haven’t been, it’s THAT GOOD). Also I saw this post on Niotillfem featuring meatball sliders which made me want a burger even more.

At Ed’s I always have a Big Bubba. A Big Bubba is a regular burger with American cheese (we call it plastic cheese in our house) and super-crispy sweetcure bacon. So I attempted to recreate this at home, IN MINIATURE. Oh yes.

I served mine with sweet potato fries (although I also did normal fries because my husband won’t eat sweet potato. I don’t know what’s wrong with him) and onion rings. I bought the onion rings though; one gadget I’m really trying to hold off buying is a deep fat fryer because I will gain 5 stone instantly by frying cheese EVERY DAY. One thing I will say before the recipe is that please, for the love of god, use SMOKED STREAKY BACON. There are far too many burgers out there that are being topped with limp, pale, chewy pieces of back bacon, which is an unforgivable crime. Crisp, streaky bacon is a winner every time, and it has to be smoked. ALWAYS.

Ok, now I’ve got that off my chest, the recipe…

Little Bubbas

Serves 2 (makes 4 Little Bubbas)

For the burgers:

250g pack of lean mince beef

Salt and Pepper

Splash of worcester sauce

Pinch of oregano

1 egg, beaten

Smoked streaky bacon (I used 1 rasher per burger)

1/2 slice plastic “American” cheese per burger

4 small round rolls

For the fries:

Sweet potato or regular potato, cut into thin batons, skin left on

Olive oil (or any oil, really)

Salt

To make the burgers, put the mince into a bowl and break it up a bit with a fork. Then just add in a pinch of salt, a LOT of pepper (I always think beef is better with lots of pepper), a splash of worcester sauce and a pinch of oregano. You could really use any herb – fresh chopped parsley would be good, but I would put in more than a pinch in that case. I only put in a little bit of oregano because I didn’t want them to taste too much like meatballs!

Beat the egg and add just a small amount to the beef mixture (if you add it all it will go slimy and won’t stick together!). Keep adding small amounts until you think there is enough to bind the mixture, and mash it all together with a fork.

To shape the burgers, I used a pastry cutter which is roughly 5/6cm in diameter. I just put the cutter on a plate, and mashed the beef into it, pressing it down as much as possible (especially round the edges) then lifted the cutter off and did the same for the rest. Once they’re all made, cover the plate with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes so that they firm up a bit.

Meanwhile, you can get on with slicing the potatoes. Cut them into matchstick sizes, and, if you’re using regular potatoes, boil them for about 3 minutes (this means that they get really nice and fluffy inside).  If you cook them longer they’ll probably disintegrate, so if you’ve cut them really thinly then boil them for less time. I didn’t bother to boil the sweet potatoes because they’re quite soft and cook quicker than normal potatoes anyway, but I just put them in the steamer pan above the normal potatoes for a minute or so.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and leave them there to steam dry for a few minutes. If they go in dry they will crisp up quicker in the oven. Once the fries are dry, put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment if your trays aren’t non stick (I find potatoes stick to trays REALLY badly and just end up as mush once you’ve scraped them off, so disappointing), and drizzle them with oil. Get involved with your hands to make sure they’re all coated and spread them out into one even layer. They all need to be in contact with the bottom of the tray to cook the best.

Put them in a hot oven (~200-220 depending on how impatient you are!) and leave them to cook for around 15-20 minutes. I like the ends of my sweet potato fries to be pretty burnished (read: burnt) so I put them all in at the same time. If you don’t, then I would cook the sweet potato fries for about 5 minutes less.

Put your griddle or pan or whatever you want to cook your burgers on to heat up, or if you want to grill them, put the grill on to heat up. Get the bacon ready to cook however you like (I put mine on a tray in the oven, it’s just easier!)

Once the pan/grill is hot, drizzle some oil onto the burgers if you’re using a pan (always oil the meat and not the pan, otherwise you’ll just smoke the house out) and cook them to your liking. Put the bacon on to cook. If you’ve compressed the burgers enough they should hold their shape well during cooking.

Once everything’s cooked it’s really just an assembly job with the cheese and the bacon – I just sprinkle the fries with some salt and enjoy!

If you’re a veggie, I think these would be awesome with falafels instead of the meat, and a huge dollop of hummus. Yummmm…