Chicken Nuggets

My eldest daughter is quite taken with the chicken nugget.  She has had them at parties and has started to ask me for them at home.  Now, I am not completely militant about what they eat, they consume more than their fair share of sweet things (don’t tell the dentist) but I don’t like to put food that has most likely come from ill-treated animals, is likely to be the worst bits of those badly treated animals covered in E numbers and other nasty things that we don’t need to eat, in front them for their dinner. So, I don’t mind them having them at parties (no kid wants to seem different from the rest), but I am not going to serve them for an evening meal.

This garbled philosophy of mine – give them good things to eat but try not to make them feel different – came to a head at the weekend when we were driving past a McDonalds.  My children are aged 6 and 4 and I have managed to not take them to a McDonalds yet. I know that McD has attempted to clean up their act and provide healthier food, but it still doesn’t make me want to take my children there to eat.  There are lots of independent cafes and restaurants that we go to regularly so I have never felt the need to sit them down to a Big Mac and fries.

Well, on Sunday as we were driving past the golden arches, the eldest said “What is McDonalds?  Everyone at school talks about it and has been?”, she said this in a voice which suggested that everyone at school might have been a bit shocked to hear that she had never been and she didn’t know what it was.  Oh, the parental guilt flooded over me.  Poor kid. I fear it might not be too long before I have to darken the door of our local McD.

Anyway, in the meantime and as a strategy for keeping that moment a little further in the future I made some chicken nuggets.  These ones are made from organic free-range chickens, who I hope had happy (albeit short) lives.

It is hard to be precise about quantities, particularly of the breadcrumbs as it depends on how thick you like your coating to be.  I double dipped mine, i.e flour, egg, breadcrumbs, back into the egg and then more breadcrumbs.  You will need a thick layer of breadcrumbs on a plate. Sorry I can’t be more accurate.

One good-sized chicken breast makes about eight nuggets.

1 chicken breast
About 3 tbsp flour
salt and pepper
2 eggs


Chop the chicken into small chunks (two bites per nugget is about right).

Spread the flour onto a plate and season with salt and pepper.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat together.

Spread breadcrumbs in a thick layer on a plate.

Take a nugget and coat in the flour, tap gently to get rid of any excess flour.  Dip into the egg, making sure it is well coated and then roll in the breadcrumbs.  You can then double dip if you prefer a crunchier nugget.  Dip back into the egg and roll again in the breadcrumbs. Place on a plate. Repeat with the other pieces of chicken.  You can now refrigerate these until you are ready to cook.

Lightly grease a baking tray and place the nuggets onto the tray.  Sprinkle lightly with oil.  Place in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 or towards the bottom of the Roasting Oven of the Aga for about 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the coating is golden.  Serve with a salad and hope that your children forget about burger restaurants.

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Chicken Korma

Blimey, it has been a busy week.  Blogging has had to slip down the list of priorities.  Family members and several friends foolishly signed themselves up four months ago to take part in the local am-dram performance of Aladdin and this week is the week of the performances. So out of a sense of comradeship I foolishly signed up to help with doing the stage make-up.  This has been good fun and a lot of trial and error (poor old Widow Twanky) but it has meant snatched meals and quite a bit of forethought has been needed to make sure that the children and my husband haven’t felt neglected in the evening meal department.

Last night I prepared this Chicken Korma, it is an adaptation of several recipes that I read and I am not even sure if it qualifies for that name or if I should just call it Spicy Chicken.  I was really pleased with the way it turned out.  I have written before about how my curries are usually a bit disappointing and so I tend to rely on Patak’s pastes for my curries.  Whilst Patak’s do make delicious pastes, it has always frustated me that I can’t manage to make a tasty curry of my own.  Well, finally my goal has been achieved with this one.

It is great if you are busy because you can leave it to marinate, then spend a few minutes cooking the onion and tipping the marinated chicken into a pan and then leave it to cook gently until you are ready to eat.

Serves 2

4 chicken thighs, skinned and deboned
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp root ginger, finely chopped
1 red chilli, chopped finely (with seeds for heat)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
seeds from 6 cardamom pods
150g natural yoghurt

1 onion
25g ground almonds
5 fl oz (¼ pint) water

Flaked almonds, to serve


Place the cumin, cardamom and coriander seeds into a saucepan and place over a medium heat for a minute or so until their scent is released.  Grind until fine in a pestle and mortar.

Slash the chicken thighs several times with a sharp knife to allow the marinade to penetrate into the meat and place in a non-metallic bowl. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli, lemon juice, spices and the yoghurt and mix well so that all is combined and the chicken is well covered.  Leave to marinate at room temperature for one hour, or all day in the fridge.

Chop the onion finely and fry in a little oil until translucent.  Tip in the chicken and the marinade and cook for a minute or so, then add the ground almonds and the water.  Bring to a simmer and simmer gently for about 45 minutes until the chicken is tender.  If you have an Aga then place it in the simmering oven and you can leave it in there simmering away until you are ready to eat.  I left mine in for three hours and then placed it back onto the simmering plate to bubble away and thicken the sauce before serving with plain rice.

To toast the flaked almonds, place them in a dry pan and toast over a medium heat for a minute or so until lightly browned.  Sprinkle over the Korma just before serving.

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Chicken pie

We had the leftovers from a roast chicken in the fridge and I needed a dinner that could be prepared ahead and then put in the oven half an hour before we wanted to eat.  This chicken pie was the result.  It was rich and creamy and delicious and probably the best chicken pie I have made yet.

For the pastry top:

75g (3oz) cold butter
150g (6oz) plain, all purpose, flour
3-4 tbsp of very cold water

For the filling:

Glug of olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 sticks of celery, diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1-2 rashers of bacon (optional)
The leftovers from a cooked chicken ( I used the meat from a leg and about half a breast worth off the carcass, but this was a big chicken from the butchers to begin with)
2 tbsp plain, all purpose, flour
glug of sherry or madeira (optional)
350ml stock
100ml cream
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper


Make the pastry by placing the flour and butter in a food processor and whizzing until it looks like breadcrumbs.  Add the water (you may need less or more, so take care) and whizz until it just comes together.  Be careful not to overmix.  If you don’t have a food processor, place the flour in a bowl and add the butter in cubes.  Rub the butter and flour together using the very tips of your fingers and lifting the flour up high to incorporate air. When it looks like breadcrumbs mix in the water using the blade of a knife and then form into a ball when it starts to come together.  Try not to handle the pastry too much.

Wrap the pastry in cling film or a plastic bag and chill in the fridge.

Fry the onion, carrot, celery and bacon (if you are using it) in the olive oil until the onion is translucent, the celery and carrots are tender and the bacon is cooked.  Add the chicken and then the flour and stir to mix well.  Leave to cook for a minute or two to cook the flour and then add the sherry or madeira if you are using it and stir well.  Add the stock gradually, stirring all the time to incorporate the flour and prevent lumps.  Let this bubble away for five minutes.  Add the cream and stir well to combine.  Add the herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

Put this mixture into a pie dish.  Wet the edges of the pie dish.  Roll out the pastry to fit the dish.  Seal the pastry with your fingertips all round the edge of the dish.  Make a hole in the centre with a small knife to allow steam to escape and brush with milk or egg wash.  Cook in a preheated oven at 200°c (gas mark 6) or the Roasting oven of the Aga for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown all over.

You could serve this with a green veg, but it is not really necessary.

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Chicken, borlotti and cranberry soup

I had some chicken left over from a roast we had the other day and I was trying to think of something to do with it.  I had a can of borlotti beans in the cupboard, a swede and some cranberries I bought when they were on special offer the other day, so this soup seemed like the thing we should have for tea.  It was tasty and the cranberries added an interesting colour and a zingy bitterness that added and interesting and good dimension to the soup.  If you have celery or carrots in the house then add some of these; I didn’t have any in the cupboard.

I served it with parmesan croutons which are very easy to make.  Just cube some bread and place on a baking tray with a light sprinkling of olive oil.  Place in a preheated oven at 200°c (400°f, gas mark 6) for about 7-8 minutes until golden all over.  As soon as they come out of the oven finely grate some parmesan over them so that it melts on contact.

1 onion, sliced finely
100g swede, diced
splash of Marsala or Madeira wine (optional)
1 dessertspoon plain flour
the leftover meat from a roast chicken ( I had two drumsticks left over for this soup)
400g tin of borlotti beans, drained and rinsed (or any other pulses you may have)
a handful of cranberries (fresh or frozen)
570 ml (1 pint) vegetable or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper


Sweat the onion and swede for about 10 minutes until the onion is translucent and the swede is beginning to take on a little colour. Add the flour and mix well, cook for a minute or so to cook out the taste of the flour.  Add a splash of Marsala if you are using it.  Add the stock and stir well to mix it with the flour. Add the rest of the ingredients except the salt (adding salt will make the bean tough). Cook for about 15-20 minutes on a gentle simmer.  Add salt to taste just before serving.  Serve in warmed bowls with the parmesan croutons or fresh bread.

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Roast chicken

roast chicken 2

Mmm a lovely roast chicken.  I love roast chicken.  I make one two or three times a month.  It usually gets eaten in one sitting and then I make a stock with it, if I don’t forget that the carcass is in the fridge. But if there is any left there is little better than a chicken and mayonnaise sandwich the next day.

1.5 kg chicken
1 lemon
olive oil
2 tsp dried tarragon
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper

Place the chicken into a roasting tin.  Squeeze the juice of a lemon over the inside and outside of the chicken and place the squeezed lemon shells inside the cavity of the chicken with a bay leaf.  Generously spread olive oil over the skin of the chicken and sprinkle with the dried tarragon.  Season all over with salt and pepper. Place the chicken into a preheated oven at 200°c (400°f, gas mark 6) and cook for twenty minutes and then turn the oven down to 180°c (350°f, gas mark 4) and cook for a further  1 hour to 1½ hours until the chicken is cooked.  You can test by placing a knife point or skewer into the thickest part of the knife and as long as the juice runs clear the chicken is cooked.  Leave to rest for fifteen minutes before carving.

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Chicken Bombe

chicken bombe

This recipe is one that my mum often makes.  I will be making it this weekend for my daughter’s fifth birthday party.  Her birthday parties offer us a chance to gather both adults and children and this year we are expecting the usual 60 odd people.  I keep promising myself that I will one year do a birthday tea for her and five friends, but any excuse for a party…
(The pic above is the one I cooked for the party, using twelve rashers of bacon, six sausages and six chicken breasts – 4 on the bottom and 2 on top.  I cooked it for 2¼ hours)
Mum’s Chicken Bombe
This is a really delicious combination. It makes a lovely sunday roast and any left over slices beautifully when cold for sandwiches in the week. It’s chicken, stuffed with sausage meat and sage and onion stuffing and then wrapped in bacon.
4 chicken breasts
4 sausages
6-8 rashers of middle bacon
Breadcrumbs (2-3 thick slices)
1 onion
1 dessertspoon dried sage or about 8 fresh leaves
1 egg
salt and pepper

Kitchen string 4 long lengths
Make the stuffing by placing all of the stuffing ingredients in a food processor and process until combined.
Lay the string horizontally on a board and lay the bacon rashers vertically on top of the string.  Place two chicken breasts on top of the bacon.  Squeeze the sausage meat out of the skins and spread evenly over the chicken and spread the stuffing evenly on top of the sausage meat.  Place the remaining two chicken breasts on top and then bring the bacon rashers up over the chicken trying to cover it all and secure by wrapping the string over and tying securely.

Place onto a roasting tray and sprinkle with olive oil.  Roast in a preheated oven at 180°c (350°f, Gas Mark 4) for 1½hour.  Check that the chicken is thoroughly cooked by piercing with a skewer and if the juices run clear then it’s cooked.

Leave to rest for 15 mins before slicing if serving hot and if serving cold then leave to cool and refrigerate until ready to slice.  You can make it a day ahead.

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