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Butter Chicken

butter chicken

 

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS

For the marinade

  • 50g natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 cm piece ginger, finely grated
  • 2 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 green chillies, seeds removed and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp tandoori masala powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 500g skinless fillets of chicken thighs, cut into 3cm pieces

For the masala

  • 4 tsp raw cashew nuts
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 tsp butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 cm piece ginger, finely grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp tandoori masala powder, (optional)
  • 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 3-4 tbsp milk
  • 100ml single cream
  • 1 chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped

For a lower fat alternative, try using reduced fat evaporated milk instead of cream in the masala

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Method

1. For the marinade: Mix the yogurt, flour, oil, aromatics and spices together, then place the chicken in a shallow dish and coat it with the mixture. Marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight if you can.

2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the marinated chicken over a medium heat for 10–15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

3. For the masala: Soak the cashew nuts in hot water for 10-15 minutes, drain and grind to fine paste in blender, adding a little milk if needed.

4. Heat the butter in a large sauce pan, add the bay leaf, ginger and garlic and cook gently for 1 minute until lightly golden. Mix in the masala powders and fry for a further minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and sizzle until the mixture reduces and the tomatoes have lost most of their moisture. Mix in the cashew paste and add enough milk to get a thick, saucy consistency.

5. Add the chicken and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes to warm through. Reserve a teaspoon of the cream and stir the rest in with the chilli, then season to taste. Spoon into a warmed dish, garnish with the reserved cream and serve with chapatis.

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Christmas and Thanksgiving Timetable

Christmas and Thanksgiving can be a very stressful time if you’re the chief cook and bottlewasher in the house.  Even if you regularly cook roast meals, there is extra pressure on these two occasions to produce a meal fit for the King of Siam and his entourage because Christmas and Thanksgiving almost invariably involve big family get togethers. 

Your exact meal is obviously entirely up to you but I thought it might just be helpful to map out a suggested main-course menu (because this is what we all worry about) plus suggested timing.  Make this schedule the basis of your Christmas menu planning and add or delete items that you want to include or remove.  Remember, the clever cook will always plan ahead so that they don’t totally lose their mind (and cool) on ‘The Big Day’. 

Suggested Main Menu – Serves 8

Cider roast turkey with glazed apples and pears with sticky shallots

‘Pigs in blankets’ (little sausages wrapped in bacon)

Chestnut & cranberry roll

Crisp-topped sprouts

Buttery caraway carrots

Roast potatoes

Bread sauce

Gravy

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PREPARING AHEAD – All dishes to be kept in fridge or freezer until needed

Up to 1 Month Ahead

Parboil and freeze the Roast Potatoes

Make the Chestnut and Cranberry Roll, if freezing

***Up to 3 Days Ahead***

***If you have bought a frozen turkey, think about how you plan to defrost it. Be aware that in a fridge a frozen bird of the size appropriate to feed 8 people could take anything from a day and a half to two and a half days to properly defrost.  Suggested sizes of bird are here and tips on defrosting here (this second link takes you to the British Food Standards Agency site).  

Up to 2 Days Ahead

Make the Chestnut and Cranberry Roll if making from fresh

Prepare and roast the Glazed Apples and Pears with Sticky Shallots

Christmas Eve

Roast the Chestnut and Cranberry stuffing roll – keep in the foil

Make the bread sauce and store, covered, in the fridge

Boil or steam the sprouts and prepare the topping for the Crispy-topped Sprouts

Steam the carrots for the Buttery Caraway Carrots

Prepare the Pigs in Blankets

Defrost anything frozen in the fridge.

CHRISTMAS DAY

09.30am:

Stuff the turkey, weigh and calculate cooking time.  Heat oven to 190C  /  375F  /  Gas mark 5  /  (Fan oven: 170C, approx 340F)

10.00am:

Put the turkey in to roast (timings based on a 4.5 kg / 10lb turkey)

11.00am and 12.00pm:

Check the roasting tin – add more cider if needed

12.30pm:

Remove the foil from the turkey to let it brown

1.00 pm:

Leave the turkey to rest.  Put the potatoes in the oven to roast, if frozen.  (If not, put in at 1.10pm).  Make the gravy.

1.30pm:

Turn the oven up to 220C  /  425F  /  Gas 7  /(Fan 200C  / 400F).  Turn the potatoes and add the stuffing roll to oven to reheat.  Put the ‘pigs in blankets’  in oven to cook.

1.45pm:

Reheat the apples, pears and shallots in the oven if room, or in the microwave if not, adding a little extra glaze.  Finish the sprouts and the carrots and heat the bread sauce, adding a little milk if it seems too thick.  Take the foil off the stuffing.

2.00pm:

Serve and enjoy!  If you have a hot pudding planned for dessert, place it in the oven and allow the residual heat to warm it through while you eat.

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The Humble Sprout + A Recipe

The humble sprout is much maligned but it’s a delicious vegetable  (if cooked properly) and as one of the ‘cruciferous’ group of vegetables (along with, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and broccoli)  may help to protect the body from cancer.  I can’t stress this enough: The key is to not overcook them.  If you’ve had bad experiences with them, the chances are that an inexperienced cook has ‘nuked’ them within an inch of their lives, rendering them limp and a slightly yellowy green colour.  In this state they take on a nasty bitterness and are very unpleasant to eat.  Cooked correctly however they should be soft but still retain some of their ‘oomph’ (my technical term, roughly translated to mean ‘some of their body and structure’) and will still appear green.  

To prepare them for cooking: Remove the tougher and loose outer leaves (usually only one or two in number) and rinse in cold water.  I know opinion is divided nowadays but I still like to cut a little cross in the base of them because I find it helps to cook them evenly and quickly.  I then cook mine in one of those foldaway steamer baskets, placed in the bottom of a pan with a little bubbling water underneath, lid on, for 8 – 10 minutes.  Timing depends on the size of the sprouts so do keep an eye on them and check for readiness by poking them with the tip of a sharp knife.  If you prefer, you can of course boil them for an equal amount of time.

To serve: Again, I’m a fan of these little veggies so for me, serving them steaming hot with freshly cracked black pepper is all that I need, but non die-hard sprout fans might also like a knob of butter!

If I still haven’t quite convinced you, here is a very nice recipe for sprouts with a little extra crunch, nuttiness and interest – perfect for Christmas and Thanksgiving lunch and dinners.

CRISP-TOPPED SPROUTS

Serves 8 people    Preparation time: 15 minutes    Cooking time:    15 minutes

 Ingredients

1 kg / 2 lb 4 oz Brussels sprouts

50g / 2 oz white bread, preferably ciabatta

2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for serving

25g / 1 oz flaked almonds

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Zest of 1 lemon

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Remove any tough leaves and trim sprouts, then steam for 10 minutes until tender. 

Tear the bread into crumbs.  Heat a large frying pan and pour in the olive oil.  Add the bread and fry until just crisp.

Tip in the flaked almonds, garlic and lemon zest, then cook gently until everything is golden (be careful not to burn the garlic).

Place the sprouts in a serving dish, season, then toss with the crumbs etc. You can, if you wish, add a little extra olive oil to finish.

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These can be prepared ahead:  Cook the sprouts the day before to the ‘al dente’ stage (in other words, until almost but not quite cooked).  Remove from the heat and then cool quickly by draining and then plunging into a bowl of iced water.  Drain and set aside in the fridge.  You can also make the topping a day in advance and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.  To serve: Microwave the sprouts for 1-2 minutes or cook in boiling water to re-heat (being careful not to overdo it).  Warm the topping mix then toss with the topping as above.

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Buttery Caraway Carrots

Incredibly simple – utterly delicious.

 

SERVES 8  /  PREPARATION TIME: 10 MINS  /   COOKING TIME:  10 MINS

Easy to prepare

1 Kg / 2lbs 4 oz carrots (about medium-sized)

25 g / 1 oz butter

1 tsp caraway seeds

Small handful of chopped parsley

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Peel the carrots and trim off the ends.  Cut in half lengthways, then cut on the diagonal into slices about 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) thick.

Place the carrots in a steamer basket and steam for 5 – 7 minutes until softened, or place in a heatproof bowl with a little water and microwave on ‘High’ for 3-5 minutes.

To finish the dish: Gently heat the butter in a frying pan.  Tip in the caraway seeds and cook for 30 seconds until they start sizzling.  Add the carrots and stir into the butter until glossy and heated through (about 3 minutes).  Toss through the parsley and serve.

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THESE CAN BE PREPARED IN ADVANCE:

Cook the carrots up to 2 days in advance, leave to cool, then cover and store in the fridge.  Reheat in pan, finishing with butter and caraway seeds as above, just before serving.

 

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Glazed Apples and Pears with Shallots

SERVES 8     PREPARATION TIME: 10 MINUTES    COOKING TIME: 1-1/2 HOURS

Easy to prepare

Ingredients

Juice of 1/2 lemon

4 small eating apples

4 small pears

900g / 2 lbs shallots (unpeeled weight)

1 tbsp olive oil

50g / 2 oz butter

6 tbsp quince or redcurrant jelly**

bay leaves to decorate

METHOD

Put the lemon juice into a large bowl.  Peel the apples and pears, leaving the stalks on, then toss in the juice. 

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil.  Lower in the apples and pears, then cover and poach for 30 minutes or until the fruit just gives to a sharp knife.  Peel the shallots while you’re waiting.

Heat the oven to 190C / 375F / Gas mark 5  (170C fan oven).  Add the oil and butter to a small roasting tin, then add the drained apples, pears and the shallots.

Brush the fruit with a layer of the quince or redcurrant jelly **(cranberry jelly would work equally well)** and roast for 1 hour until softened and golden.

Turn the pears and apples around in the fat a few times during cooking, brushing twice more with the glaze.

Serve spooned around the turkey, decorated with bay leaves.

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This recipe has been very slightly adapted from a recipe that first appeared in the December 2007 Christmas edition of BBC Good Food magazine.  The photograph is from the same source.

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Special Jewelled Stuffing

CHESTNUT & CRANBERRY ROLL   ** (Can be prepared ahead)**

 

Makes 2 rolls, each cuts into 8 slices

Preparation Time: 30 minutes.     Cooks for 1 hour

Easy to prepare

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INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 Bramley (cooking) apples, approximately 140 g / 5 oz each, peeled

3 x 450 g (3 x 1 lb) packs good quality pork sausages

2 x 200g (2 x 7 to 8 oz)  packs vacuum-packed chestnuts, rougfhly chopped

Small bunch sage, leaves roughly chopped

Small bunch thyme, leaves stripped

1 egg

100g / 4oz white breadcrumbs

175g / 6oz fresh or frozen cranberries

24 rashers streaky bacon

butter for greasing

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Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then gently fry the onion for 5 minutes until softened.  Finely chop the apples, either by hand or in a food processor.

Squeeze the sausagemeat from the sausages into a large bowl, then add all the other ingredients except the cranberries and straky bacon.  Season generously then get your hands in and mix well.  Weigh out 450g (1lb) of the stuffing and mix a handfull of cranberries into it.  Use to stuff the neck of the turkey.

To assemble the rest:  Butter and season a large sheet of foil.  Stretch out the bacon rashers slightly with the back of a kitchen knife, then overlap 12 rashers on the foil. 

Spoon half of the stuffing mix evenly over the bacon, leaving a border of about 3cm (a little over an inch).  Scatter with half the cranberries, then pat them in.  Tuck the long edges of the bacon over the stuffing, then, using the foil to help, roll the stuffing up into a log shape. 

Repeat to make a second roll.

Heat the oven to 190C / 375F / Gas mark 5 / Fan oven 170C

Put the foil-wrapped rolls onto a roasting tin and roast for 45 minutes.  Unwrap, draining off any juice, then finish roasting for 15 minutes, until the bacon is crisp.

**These rolls can be prepared up to 2 days ahead and kept, raw, in the fridge, or frozen for up to 1 month.  Roast up to 1 day ahead if you wish, then reheat, wrapped in foil, for 30 minutes while the turkey rests and your vegetables finish cooking.

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Recipe and photos from a recipe that appeared in BBC Good Food Magazine, Christmas edition 2007

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Cider Roast Turkey

SERVES 8 with leftovers.  PREPARATION TIME 15 minutes.   

COOK approx 4 hours for a 4.5 – 6 Kg (10-12 lb) bird.

Moderately easy recipe

Choose a free-range bird for the best flavour – they’re more expensive, but well worth it for a special occasion.  Here in the UK I’ve found KellyBronze has a good flavour.

FOR THE TURKEY

4.5 – 6kg (10-12 lb) turkey, giblets removed and kept

450g / 1lb stuffing

2 leeks, trimmed and halved

2 carrots, halved

50g / 2oz butter, softened

300ml /1/2 pint of dry cider

FOR THE GRAVY

300ml /1/2 pint dry cider

600ml / 1 pint of chicken or home made turkey giblet stock

2 tbsp quince or redcurrant jelly (cranberry jelly would also work well as an alternative if you can’t find quince or redcurrant)

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Heat the oven to 190C / 375F / Gas 5 / 170C for a fan oven (approx 365F).

Wash and dry the turkey, removing any feathers.  Pull out the giblets and the neck, then set aside.  Lift up the skin that covers the neck opening, then stuff the stuffing up and under the skin, securing it tightly underneath with a skewer or two cocktail sticks.

Weigh the stuffed turkey (you may to use bathroom scales to do this), then calculate the cooking time, allowing 40 minutes per kg (20 minutes per pound).

Put the leeks and carrots in the bottom of a roasting tin in a single layer – this makes a trivet for the turkey to sit on, keeping it out of the fat that pools in the bottom of the tray and also adding flavour to the gravy.  Take the neck from the giblets you had set aside and add to the tin (again for flavour).

Sit the turkey on top of the layer of carrots and leeks and coat the breast all over with butter.  Pour in the cider, cover with foil, then roast according to your timings.  Keep checking the tin every 20-30 minutes and if the vegetables look like they’re burning, add a splash of water or cider.

At 30 minutes before the end of cooking, remove the foil and season generously with salt and pepper.

To test if the turkey is ready, pierce the thigh through its thickest part – the juices should run clear.  Take the turkey out and leave to rest, covered with a clean tea towel. 

Leaving the bird to rest is essential in order to allow the fibres of the meat to relax again and for the residual moisture to redistribute in the flesh.  You can leave the turkey to rest for up to an hour.

TO MAKE THE GRAVY

Drain the fat and juices from the tin into a jug, discarding the veg and the neck.

Place the tin over a flame then pour in the cider, scraping up the flavour filled crusty bits with a wooden spoon. 

Reduce the cider by half, then strain into a saucepan (this will save you hob space later).

You should find that by now the juices you poured out of your roasting tin into a jug will have separated out – the fat floating to the top.  Carefully tip off this excess fat, then add the remaining juices to the reduced cider and pour in the stock.  ***Reduce over a high heat for about 10 minutes until slightly thickened.  Stir in the quince jelly, taste and then season if necessary – if you’re using commercially pre-prepared stock be warned that this usually contains a lot of salt so your gravy may only require a little cracked black pepper by way of seasoning. 

Pour the gray into a serving jug or gravy boat, any resting juices that have come out of the turkey should go in now too.

***If you prefer a thicker gravy, mix 1 tsp cornflour with a splash of cold water, then add to the gravy, stirring constantly until smooth and glossy.

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This recipe has been slightly adapted from one  that appeared in the December 2007 Christmas edition of BBC Good Food magazine.  All photos from the same article.

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