Category Archives: chicken

Leftover chicken and vegetable pie

I finally treated myself to a Le Creuset french oven which I’ve been wanting for ages, and of course had to cook with it the day it got delivered. I have a smaller pot but wanted something with a bit more room (to cook more food).

I was planning on making a slowly braised beef stew but had leftover chicken from the previous night, so decided to make a similarly comforting chicken and vegetable pie.

I get so much satisfaction from something as simple as the pure weight of the pot while cooking, and the way the heat is so evenly distributed.

Anyway, my recipe for the pie below. Of course you could do this in any pot you have.

Ingredients for a large pie to feed 4-6

  1. 1-2 sheets of shortcrust pastry – to make a base that will fit your pie dish, I have a 28cm pie dish that needs 2)
  2. 1-2 sheets puff pastry
  3. 4 rashers streaky bacon, diced
  4. 1 large onion, finely diced
  5. 1 large carrot, cut into 2cm chunks
  6. 1 cup frozen peas
  7. leftover chicken meat, removed from the bone and shredded
  8. 8 baby potatoes, halved and cooked
  9. handful of tarragon leaves, chopped
  10. 2 bay leaves
  11. 2 tbls plain flour
  12. 1/2 cup white wine
  13. 1 cup chicken stock
  14. salt and pepper to taste
  15. 1 egg, beaten

Method

  1. Begin by making the base. Line your pie dish with the shortcrust pastry and blind bake in a preheated oven at 180C/350F for 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool
  2. Fry the bacon lardons in a little olive oil until they are brown and crispy. Remove and set aside
  3. Fry the onions on low heat in the bacon fat until translucent
  4. Add the carrots, cover and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes, until the carrots have softened
  5. Add the peas, chicken, potatoes, tarragon and bay leaves
  6. Turn up the heat, add the white wine and cook till the alcohol cooks out and the wine is more or less gone – you just want the flavour of the wine
  7. Sprinkle the flour over the chicken mixture and cook out the flour for 3-5 minutes on medium heat
  8. Add the chicken stock and stir – it should be the consistency of thin gravy. This will thicken as the pie cooks
  9. Cover and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  10. Remove from heat and let cool slightly (this helps to prevent the base from getting soggy)
  11. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
  12. Assemble the pie – pour the chicken filling into the prepared and cooled pie base, cover with a layer of puff pastry, cut a few slashes in the puff to allow steam to escape while the pie cooks
  13. Brush the puff pastry with the beaten egg to give it that lovely colour when the pie cooks
  14. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes until the puff pastry is golden brown
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Chicken quesadillas

Chicken quesadillas with jalapeno peppers and Monterey Jack cheese

Quesadillas are so quick and simple. You can even use leftover chicken or  beef for these, which makes them even easier, and of course add whatever you want or have in the fridge. I would have added in slices of red capsicum and avocado but my fridge is bare and it’s late.

Ingredients for one serving (one quesadilla)

  1. 2 wraps or similar round flatbread – I use wholemeal
  2. 1 single chicken breast
  3. sliced jalapenos
  4. Moneterey Jack cheese slices
  5. salt and pepper

Method

  1. Butterfly the chicken breast at the thickest part so that it’s an even thickness, season well on both sides and pan-fry till cooked through and golden brown
  2. Slice and arrange on one of the wraps, along with the jalapenos and any other fillings you fancy
  3. Top with a few slices of cheese
  4. Cover with the second wrap
  5. Heat up a skillet on high
  6. Pop the wrap sandwich into the middle of the pan and cook for about 2 minutes – you want to get the cheese melting
  7. Flip over with the help of a flexible spatula and toast the wrap on the other side for 1-2 minutes until the wraps are crispy and golden
  8. Slice and enjoy while still warm so the cheese is still gooey

Sticky honey and soy chicken wings

My sticky honey and soy marinated chicken wings

Marinade the wings the night before and then it will take just 30 minutes to get these wonderfully sticky chicken wings on the table. Just enough time to make the accompanying coleslaw.

Ingredients (for two hungry people)

  1. 8 chicken wings
  2. 1/2 cup light soya sauce
  3. 3tbl dark soya sauce (if you don’t have this just add a splash more light soya sauce)
  4. 3 tbl honey
  5. 1 tsp sesame oil
  6. 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  7. 1tsp liquid smoke (if you are lucky enough to have a bbq, then you can obviously skip this)

Method

  1. Discard the wing tip if you can be bothered
  2. Mix marinade ingredients well
  3. Put the chicken wings into a large ziplock plastic bag
  4. Pour the marinade in to the bag
  5. Zip lock and mix well
  6. Pop into a bowl and into the fridge to marinade at least four hours but preferably overnight – once or twice jiggle the bag around a bit to spread the marinade evenly
  7. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 200C/390F
  8. Double line a shallow baking tray with foil and tip the entire contents of the bag (wings and marinade) in
  9. Pop into the oven for 30 minutes, turning once – the marinade would have reduced to a nice sticky consistency
  10. Serve hot with fresh, cold, zingy coleslaw or they’re even good cold for picnics

Chicken and leek pie

I really do like pies. There’s something special about being able to peek under the edge of a crisp pastry lid to let the aroma of the flavours that have been cooking away in there, escape in wispy tendrils to your nose.
I found some gorgeous leeks in the supermarket so decided to make chicken and leek pie (my supermarket also had fresh thyme – bonus! It always seems that the herb I want is always the one herb they didn’t stock that day).

Ingredients makes one large pie

  1. 4 rashers of streaky bacon, diced
  2. 1 double chicken breast, skin removed and cut into bite sized pieces
  3. 1 large or 2 small leeks, washed and sliced
  4. 1 glass dry white wine
  5. 1 tbls flour
  6. 1 cup hot chicken stock
  7. fresh thyme
  8. Salt and pepper to taste
  9. 1 sheet short crust pastry
  10. 1 egg, beaten

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Fry the bacon in a large pan until crispy, remove from pan and set aside – keep the bacon fat in the pan
  3. Brown the chicken pieces in the bacon fat, remove from pan and set aside
  4. Lower the heat and gently sweat the leeks until soft
  5. Turn up the heat, add the chicken and bacon and sprinkle the flour over, coating all the ingredients and cook for about 3 minutes
  6. Add the white wine and bring to the boil for 2-3 minutes, stirring out any lumps of flour
  7. Add enough stock to just cover everything and add the thyme (you can just put the whole sticks in and then remove them later, or pick off the leaves, which I prefer)
  8. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes – the stock should have reduced and become a nice gravy
  9. Pour the mix into pie dish and cover with the sheet of short crust pastry, pressing down the edges with a fork
  10. Slash a few cuts into the pastry to help the steam escape while it’s cooking and to prevent the pastry from going soggy
  11. Brush beaten egg over the top
  12. Put into preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown
  13. Serve hot

Chuen Chuen Chicken Rice

Roasted chicken rice with bean sprouts

We used to have one of those stores just downstairs from our apartment that sells everything.  For those in Asia, you know the ones I mean – mountains of takeaway containers, rolls of kitchen paper, party decorations – a real mish mash or wholesale goodness that I used to love poking around in.

It recently closed down and we have passed it each day for the past two weeks, watching the renovations come together and finally two days ago it was “revealed” that the store was to become another outlet for Bugis Street Chuen Chuen Chicken Rice.

I’ve been trying to find the history/background of the chain, but all I can find is that there are two other outlets – a store at Longhouse Food Centre on Upper Thompson Road, and one at Lorong Sarina.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with chicken rice, it’s a dish of succulent chicken, steamed until it is just cooked with a little pink remaining on the flesh near the bones. Alternatively, dark brown roasted chicken can also be served with specially cooked rice.  The rich flavour of the rice comes from the grains that have been pre-fried in chicken fat and then cooked in chicken broth.  The dish is accompanied with a chilli sauce made up of chillies, chicken broth, garlic, and ginger.  Additional kecap manis a thick sweet soya sauce, can also be added. A broth of chicken stock garnished with a sprinkle of spring onions is a must.

Anyway, D and I went downstairs to have lunch there yesterday.  I ordered the steamed chicken and D had the roast chicken.  Both types of chicken were tender and sweet – we had breast meat (for an extra 50c you could have drumstick meat which has more flavour) and the rice tasty and not too oily.

Chicken rice is everywhere in Singapore – many often claiming to be “the best”.  For us, the one downstairs, that we can enjoy in air conditioned comfort, that’s also delicious, works out the best for us.  We just have to exercise self-control as chicken rice is Chinese fast food at its best.

Chuen Chuen Chicken Rice
21 Tan Quee Lan Street
Near Bugis Junction


Chicken Kiev

I was a little apprehensive with my attempt to make Chicken Kiev – would I be able to ensure that all the butter is securely enveloped and won’t sneak out of a gap in the chicken ?  Will I be able to fry the chicken fillets so they come out crispy and crunchy, not greasy, without burning myself (or letting the oil bubble over and ruin a saucepan like my first disastrous attempt at fish and chips)?

A lot of recipe research and I ended up with the recipe below.

Final verdict – some of my chicken fillets didn’t flatten to nice even shapes, so I didn’t wrap the chicken around the butter well enough on some of them, so some leaked out while roasting (boo).  I had to finish off the chicken in the frying pan as it was still not golden brown after 18 minutes in the oven, and I didn’t want to overcook the chicken in the oven. I think the panko helped to keep the outside crispy though, and the chicken meat was tender and juicy. Not sure I’d try making Chicken Kiev again in a hurry, but I would consider just frying the crumbed chicken fillets and serve them with a drizzle of herbed garlic butter and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Ingredients (for four)

  1. 2 Skinless boneless chicken breasts (1 single breast per serving)
  2. 100g butter
  3. 3 cloves garlic
  4. 2 tbl fresh tarragon
  5. 1 tbl fresh lemon juice
  6. 1 egg
  7. 3 tbl plain flour
  8. 1 cup breadcrumbs (I used Japanese panko)
  9. Oil for shallow frying

Method

  1. Begin by preparing the herb butter. Mix all of the ingredients together in a small mixing bowl until thoroughly combined. Some of the lemon juice may remain separate from the butter. Mound the butter on a piece of plastic wrap and mold into a log. Cover completely in plastic wrap and refrigerate until hard
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6
  3. Flatten the chicken breasts between plastic wrap with a rolling pin until they are about 1/3 inch thick. Don’t mangle them – just get them on the slender side
  4. Prepare three shallow bowls for dipping: one with flour, one with the beaten egg, and one with the bread crumbs.
  5. Remove the hardened butter from the refrigerator and slice into four equal portions (each piece should be a little less long than the chicken breast is wide). Place a piece of butter towards one end of each chicken breast and then roll the meat up tightly round the butter. Tuck in the edges and any stray bits as you roll. Press firmly together
  6. Dredge each chicken roll thoroughly in flour, then egg, and finally in bread crumbs. Be sure everything is well coated. Place the chicken rolls on a plate and refrigerate for 1/2 hour before frying
  7. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken breasts on all sides until lightly browned. Transfer chicken to a wire rack and bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until golden-brown and completely cooked through
  8. I served mine with steamed broccolini but you can serve it with any vegetable that would work with that herby garlic butter


Sunday brunch at Raffles Bar and Billiard Room

Cream of asparagus soup with soft boiled eggs and freshly shaved black truffles

I think that today D, my brother in-law and I broke a record for continuous eating at brunch.  Four hours.  FOUR HOURS.  The food was just so well done and there were so many choices that it almost didn’t seem like enough time.  Add free flow Billecart-Salmon champagne, and those four hours became even more pleasurable.

The Sunday brunch is something that seems to be quite uniquely Singaporean (I am not entirely sure of this and happy to stand corrected as I think Sunday brunches should be enjoyed all over the world).  Essentially it is a buffet spread, usually in five star hotels, where there is free flow alcohol – usually champagne.

D and I have been to many over the years, with our previous staple the Mezza9 Sunday brunch at the Hyatt Hotel.  We’d been to the Bar and Billiard Room at the Raffles Hotel a few times now and it has clearly evolved to become our firm favourite.  It’s not cheap in comparison to other brunches (although as an FYI, we found out to our delight that Platinum AMEX card holders get a 25% discount, making it about the same price as others, so no excuses now), but the selection of food that is presented to you is just of a different class to anything we’ve experienced anywhere else.  And where we used to like the buzzy ambiance at Mezza9, today the penny finally dropped and we agreed that the much, much more relaxed atmosphere at the Bar & Billiard brunch means that you are able to take your time and really enjoy all the truly gourmet food that surrounds you.

You have the usual suspects – cold seafood to start with oysters and prawns and Maine lobster – all of which were good, but nothing you cannot find anywhere else.  For cold appetisers, there was an array of marinaded vegetables – antipasto-style, along with a caprese salad, duck rilette, smoked salmon, seared tuna nicoise, beef carpaccio (so thin you could barely pick up a slice from the plate without tearing it) – the list went on, but that’s what ended up on my plate.

Scraping the risotto from the parmesan wheel

From here our table split up and I went for what was my clearly my favourite station, where they were serving cream of asparagus soup, a parmesan risotto, and smoked salmon on potato rosti (served on top of a thin layer of crip potato rosti, with a swirl of creme fraiche and caviar atop blini).  The asparagus soup replaced what I remembered to be my favourite dish at the brunch, a rich lobster bisque, but chef Gagan Bhatnagar explained that he put asparagus on the menu as he was taking advantage of them while they were in season.  The soup starts with the chef slicing the top and bottom off a perfectly soft boiled egg, placing it on a dollop of creamy potato, carefully ladling the rich green soup around it, arranging two spears of asparagus on top, and then drizzling truffle oil and shaving fresh black truffles on top.  Just remembering it is making me smile !  D even used the asparagus as soldiers for dipping into the soft boiled egg yolk.

Parmesan risotto with freshly shaved black truffles

The risotto is freshly made – stock is added to pre-cooked risotto rice in a pan, cooked for a few minutes until the grains absorb the stock, to which is added a cube of butter, double cream, then at the last minute “acidic butter” and finely chopped chives are added (the chef explained to me that acid butter is butter that has had white wine vinegar mixed into it, and which, when added at the end of the risotto cooking process, helps to “lift” the dish).  The molten mix is then poured into a large wheel of parmesan cheese, from where the chef scrapes it and onto your plate.  They were also kind enough to shave fresh black truffles over my dish and presto – one of my favourite (and repeated) dishes.

Grilled scallop with Iberico ham

There was also a cured meat station, where they serve thinly sliced Iberico ham (which paired perfectly with seared scallops from the cold appetiser station), Serrano ham, Parma ham and bresaola with pickled onions and gherkins.

For warm meats there was a foie gras station – where they pan-fried the foie gras to order and then serve it on top of thin ribbons of apple, with a drizzle of passionfruit coulis, lamb – leg and herb crusted rack, pork knuckle, roasted duck breast, roasted Bresse chicken and two types of beef.  One was a tenderloin, which was lovely and tender but the winner for me was the beef rib – a much less lean piece of meat, but roasted so perfectly that the meat was meltingly tender and flavoursome, even without the Bordelaise sauce that was meant to accompany it.

Five textured chocolate

Desserts were many, varied, and interesting.  Not all of them were loved at our table (we pretty much tried everything between the three of us), but complete respect goes to the dessert chef who took a few risks and also designed delicate treats like five textured chocolate, panna cotta with fresh strawberry coulis with a sherberty meringue stick, creme brulee, a “modern twist” on blackforest cake, which was essentially a large rectangular log of rich chocolate mousse with marshmallow inside, a perfect sphere of chocolate filled with honeycomb froth and the winner at our table, a simple but superbly done bread and butter pudding with creme anglaise.

There was also a huge selection of pastas and cooked vegetables, as well as an impressive spread of cheeses.

Need I remind you that we got there when the brunch started, and left four hours later ?  Just do it.

Bar and Billiard Room and the Raffles Hotel Singapore
1 Beach Road
Tel: (65) 6412 1816
Brunch on Sundays 11.30am – 3.00pm


Two brilliant ways to use a tub of plain yoghurt

Make raita and use it to marinade the chicken for Nigella Lawson’s Ritzy chicken nuggets.

For the raita, heat a tablespoon of oil until hot. Add half a teaspoon of mustard seeds and half a teaspoon of cumin seeds and fry till they pop. Take off the heat, add in a teaspoon of cumin powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper and set aside to cool.

In a bowl, mix about a cup of yoghurt with a grated medium sized cucumber, skinned and deseeded, and a handful of finely chopped mint leaves.

Add the cooled oil mixture to the yoghurt, mix, and pop in the fridge for the flavours to combine before serving with a variety of any Indian curry – we had it with briyani.

For Nigella’s Ritzy chicken nuggets, cut a chicken breast into strips, and simply coat and marinade in the yoghurt, overnight if possible. The culture in the yoghurt breaks down the protein walls in the chicken and makes it oh-so-tender.

When you’re ready to cook, grab a bag of Ritz crackers (or any type of cracker you have available), bash into crumb-like texture, and use to coat the chicken strips. You can add herbs or parmesan to the mix for additional flavour. If you’re using plain crackers, you may need to season the coating.

Once done, lay strips out on a baking sheet-lined tray, pop into a hot oven (200C) for 25 minutes, turning the strips over once, until golden and crispy.

Serve with a fresh salad, we did parmesan and rocket.


Empress Chicken

We picked up a free-range, antibiotic-free and hormone-free Empress chicken from Huber’s yesterday.  I haven’t had easy access to any other chicken than what’s available at Cold Storage and at $22 for this chicken, it’s about three times the price of what I can get at Cold Storage.  And that’s not even an organic chicken, which I was hoping to buy yesterday.

But preparing the Empress chicken tonight for roasting really reminded me why we should all try to avoid cage-reared chicken.

It didn’t have that awful slime that I get with the Cold Storage chicken when I took it out of the bag and the chicken looked so plump-breasted and firm.  Even the shape of it made me think that this chicken had to work at walking around, perching, stretching its wings, and that made a really “nice”, for want of a better word, visual in my head – that the bird had a good, natural life, before it was prepared to be cooked in my oven (I know that sounds odd, but I’m not quite ready to go meat-free yet).

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, one of our favourite TV chefs and a firm supporter (along with Jamie Oliver) of free-range chicken really made an impact with his chicken run series.

Now I am trying to find out if Sakura chicken, which apparently is only available through NTUC, and is hormone/antibiotic-free, is also free-range.