Sizzling Summer Spatchcock Chicken

It’s been a mad week here! We have a gîte with a full quota of guests, my son and his girlfriend staying in the house, 4 friends staying last night in a tent and my nephew arriving today. So my first thought of the day is wondering how many I am cooking for that evening. Luckily tonight it’s only seven but I need a little break so this is a dish that is really easy and keeps the chicken really moist.

Here’s what you need for 4 people:

  • 2 small chickens
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 sprigs rosemary (about 1 tbsp when chopped) or 2tsp dried
  • 2 sprigs of tarragon or 2tsp dried
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed

Here’s what to do:

  • First prepare the marinade my mixing the lemon juice, zest, oil and  chopped herbs.
  • Sizzling Summer Spatchcock (4) Next prepare the chicken – it’s really easy. You can use poultry shears but I find it easier with a sharp knife. Put the chicken neck end down on a chopping board and holding the backbone, start cutting through the ribs. Repeat down the other side and remove the backbone. Either chuck it or freeze for making stock later. Flatten the chicken by pushing down hard on the breast area.

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  • Carefully separate the skin from the breast and squidge the garlic in. You could mix it with butter to make it very naughty.
  • Spread the herb marinade all over the skin of the chicken and pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours if you can.
  • Cook in the oven at 180 C or Gas 5/6 for about an hour and thirty minutes, depending on the size of your  chicken. You can also barbecue this slowly.
  • You can use this marinade on a normal roast chicken and this way you can stuff the squeezed lemon halves inside the cavity for extra flavour. It’s also great on a rotisserie.

DSC_0939Sizzling Summer Spatchcock (6)

So here’s a really delicious marinade that you could use on any chicken. Putting the garlic under the skin stops it from burning and allows it to get right into the flesh. If you are going for a virtuous option then omit the oil and mix the garlic and herbs together and then slather onto skinless breast or thigh and cook in foil. Open the foil for the last 5 minutes.

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Simple Saucey Steaks

My family love steak. We don’t have it often as it is expensive in France, as it is in the UK, so we reserve it for special occasions. When my son went back to the UK last week part of his last meal here was steak. We managed to get some tender entrecôte steaks from Lidl which were good value and some samphire, or salicorne  in French, just because I love it. Now Will, like many teenagers doesn’t really do mushrooms, so we decided on a pepper sauce, which to be honest I hadn’t made before. I looked up a few recipes online and it was far too complicated when I was making the mussel starter. All the recipes seem to involve reducing stock and far too much faff, and as I said before, I prefer to cheat so here is my version of a steak au poivre.

Here’s what you need for 4 people:

  •  4 rib-eye steaks or your choice of cut
  • 2 finely chopped shallots
  • 1 clove of garlic crushed
  • 1 tsp Bovril or I beef stock cube dissolved in 250ml boiling water (if you don’t want to measure this is the equivalent of just under a mug)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 capful of brandy
  • butter and oil for frying
  • 2 heaped tbsp low fat creme fraiche

Here’s what I did:

  • Cook the steaks to your liking and leave to rest while you make the sauce.
  • Melt about a tbsp of butter in a frying pan and soften the shallots for a few minutes.Keep stirring so they don’t brown.
  • Add the garlic for 1 minute then tip in the brandy.
  • Add the stock and creme fraiche.

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  • Stick in as much pepper as you like.

Steak au poivre

I served this with chips cooked in the oven and the samphire simply fried in butter for a couple of minutes. No salt required.

steak au poivre (2)This week we were able to have a few meals on our own, which might have been romantic if  our two Weimaraners weren’t salivating at the table! Whilst shopping a few backs we found some tournedos, which are the smaller part of the fillet. Often meat is sold covered in a protective layer of fat which I just take off after cooking. They were half price so we paid 3.50 in Euros for both, an absolute bargain. They were begging for a blue cheese sauce.

steak

Here’s what you need for 4 people:

  •  4 steaks
  • 2 tbsp low fat creme fraiche
  • 1 small packet (150 g) of Roquefort cheese roughly cut

Here’s what I did:

  • Cook your steak and leave to rest. I fried these in butter for a couple of minutes each side and then put them in the oven for a few minutes for medium rare.
  • Using the same pan, add the cheese, creme fraiche and pepper to taste. There is enough salt in the cheese.

Steak with RoquefortThis is almost a non recipe, it’s so simple. This time we had large sliced mushrooms with loads of tarragon and garlic which worked well too. Of course, even though I’ve used low-fat creme fraiche, both these dishes are decadent due to the amount of fat used.

Oh well, back on the diet then!

Tuscan Roast Pork

We are still in the grip of some seriously hot weather here. Yesterday it was 36 degrees! Now, I love the sun but it’s not ‘doing’ weather is it? My poor doggies only get up when they need a drink or to find a different cold spot on the tiles, so I really can’t be bothered with cooking much. The thing is, despite moving to France, I still think of Sunday lunch as a  a special occasion, and more importantly, my family expect it! So this dish is a bit of a compromise, especially if you’ve already peaked on barbecue food too. I first did this dish many years ago and did it spit-roast on the barbecue but this is the lazy version for all you cheaters out there.

This is a Decadent dish. What I mean is that this dish has a fair bit of fat in it. More importantly it’s easy, so if you need to sneak outside with a glass of wine there’s no guilt because dinner is doing itself.

Here’s what you need for 4 people:    

  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano or 1 tbsp chopped fresh
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 heaped tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • Piece of pork shoulder about 1kg with the skin removed
  • Potatoes for 4 cut roughly in 1 inch chunks
  • 2 Onions/Shallots cut in wedges
  • 2 apples, cored and wedged

Tuscan Roast Pork

Here’s what I did:

  • Mix all the oil and spices together and slather onto the pork.
  • Cover loosely with foil and stick it in the oven at Gas 3/4  or 170 degrees for a good 3 hours.
  • Add the potatoes and onions and leave for an hour.
  • Finally add the apples, making sure to turn everything in the juices.
  • Keep the foil off for the last 20 minutes and wack the heat up to Gas 6 or 200.
  • Let it rest for 15 minutes before attempting to carve.

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Et voilà!  The meat will be falling apart so just slice thickly and pile on the veg in the delicious juices.  Serve this with a mixed salad and enjoy a day off! Great for a posh barbecue or when you fancy a change. I would love to know what you think about this recipe, especially as it is definitely a cheap dinner!

Top tips:

  • Don’t ditch the skin, score it, pour loads of table salt on it, wait 30 minutes and wash off. Dry with kitchen towel, and add vegetable oil to coat. Sprinkle with salt and place on a tray. Stick in the oven until crisp (probably the last 2 hours).
  • You can use leg or loin cuts but reduce the cooking time and only remove foil at the end.
  • Do this on the barbecue spit roast for about 1 and 1/2 hours.
  • Add wedged fennel to the pan with the apples.