Friday, 24 October 2014

One-pot chicken and mushroom casserole

One-pot chicken and mushroom casserole

When I was little, the one thing I would go back for seconds (and thirds) at Christmas wasn't the turkey but my mom's stuffing. The stuffing was made with rice, chicken livers, pine nuts, herbs and chestnuts - lots and lots of chestnuts. I remember peeling a huge pot of boiled chestnuts – cooked in the pressure cooker – with my mom every Christmas Eve. It was really laborious work but I was amply compensated as I usually ate at least a third of the chestnuts I peeled.

These days the stuffing doesn't quite hold the same magic (that seems to be the case with a lot of childhood favourites, sadly) but I still adore chestnuts in both sweet and savoury dishes. Luckily they can now be found, year round, already cooked and peeled – though that doesn't stop me from munching on a few before using. They go especially well with chicken which leads me to this hugely comforting and autumnal one-pot chicken casserole.

This must be one of the easiest and tastiest meals I have ever made. And it really does only require one pot – in this case my new Le Creuset cast iron casserole which has been in daily use recently. You do need to use the best free-range chicken you can find – luckily chicken leg portions tend to be quite reasonably priced. Or you could use a whole chicken and ask the butcher to joint it for you.  

The only seasoning I used here is Kikkoman Soy sauce, a little honey, thyme and pepper. The soy sauce really brings out the best in both the chicken and mushrooms – you end up with a herby, very flavourful 'risotto'. If you happen to have a little brandy you might want to sneak a couple of tablespoons in as well. 

Once you brown the chicken and add the remaining ingredients all you have to do is sit back, glass of wine in hand (don't tell me that's just me) and wait for an hour while the oven does all the work. I think this is perfect alternative to a Sunday roast but it is easy and quick enough to make any day of the week. Plus, did I mention you only need to wash one pot?

One-pot chicken and mushroom casserole
One-pot chicken and mushroom casserole

One-pot chicken and mushroom casserole
Serves 4-5
4 chicken leg portions - preferably free-range
4 banana shallots, peeled and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
400g | 14oz chestnut mushrooms, stems removed, roughly chopped
100g | 3.5oz wild mushrooms, roughly chopped or left whole (I used chanterelles)
230g | 8.1oz white & wild long grain rice mix
200g | 7oz cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
500ml | 2 cups hot chicken stock
6 tbsp Kikkoman soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
a handful fresh thyme sprigs + more to serve
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
Fresh pepper

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and prepare all your vegetables. Combine the soy sauce and honey.
  2. Heat the casserole over high heat. Once it is hot, lower the temperature to medium and add the oil. Brown the chicken legs on all sides for a few minutes. Set aside.
  3. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the butter to the casserole and scrape any browned bits of chicken from the bottom of the pot using a wooden spoon. 
  4. Toss in the shallots and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until slightly softened.
  5. Add the rice and stir to coat in the butter. Add the mushrooms and chestnuts and stir to combine. Add the stock and bay leaves; bring to a simmer.
  6. Position the chicken legs on top of the rice and then drizzle with the honey & soy sauce.
  7. Sprinkle with some thyme, season with pepper and cover.
  8. Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. 
  9. Take the lid off  and cook for a further 15 minutes or until the chicken skin gets a little colour. If all the stock has been absorbed then add a splash of water if needed.
  10. Sprinkle with some more thyme leaves, check the seasoning, and serve.
Notes: you can use any large, lidded casserole (Dutch oven) for this recipe.
If you can't find fresh wild mushrooms you can use dried porcini. Rehydrate first in hot water.

I am entering this recipe to the Kikkoman Best Blogger Recipe Competition 2014.

One-pot chicken and mushroom casserole


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Pumpkin gingerbread rolls

Supergolden Bakes: Pumpkin gingerbread rolls

You can't be a food blogger or a Pinterest lover without noticing a certain round orange interloper making itself known around the end of September (although, these days, it can be even sooner than that). I am talking of course about PUMPKINS. The combination of Autumn, Halloween and Thanksgiving (in Canada and the US) brings out pumpkin recipes galore – not to mention costumes, decorations and PSLs. Well I, for one, am all for it. Not the Pumpkin Spice Lattes so much – I always have one and then remember I don't actually like them – but cakes, desserts, soups and stews I am firmly in favour. Problem is, the canned (or should I say tinned) pumpkin purée that is ubiquitous on the other side of the pond was, until recently, very hard to source in the UK. If you wanted to make pumpkin pie you would have to roast and purée the pumpkin yourself. Not impossible but certainly an awful lot of work. 

Well this year I found Libby's Solid Pack Pumpkin in a few of online supermarkets and in Whole Foods. I got myself a couple of cans and sat down to make a layered pumpkin cake – a recipe I found in the Martha Stewart Cakes book. I made the recipe according to instructions and yet the cakes were, sadly, very moist, dense and distinctly underbaked. They tasted amazing (my husband and I ate at least a third of one - to test if it was cooked, you understand) but they had to go in the bin. Can't tell you how disappointed I was. I have now found a different recipe I want to try but in the meantime I decided to make some pumpkin rolls to take my mind off the pumpkin cake fiasco.

I used the gingerbread roster of spices – cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg – and a little molasses (also found at Whole Foods) to create these rolls. Unlike the cakes they were a resounding success – a little less sweet than I expected but the caramel and cream cheese glazes compensated very nicely. I am now feeling confident to try a pumpkin cake again! If you have any recommendations for pumpkin recipes please let me know in the comments...

This recipe was perfect for testing out my nifty new gadget - the Joseph Joseph Duo Bake. This was sent to me to review and the timing could not be more perfect as both my other pastry scrapers have disappeared in the Great Kitchen Renovation of 2014. The Duo Bake comprises of a soft silicone scraper - used to scrape the bowl clean of every last scrap of dough or batter - and a stainless-steel dough cutter with handy measurements on the blade (perfect for cutting evenly-sized rolls). The two attach to each other magnetically which is a brilliant idea - until I misplace them both. 

Supergolden Bakes: Pumpkin gingerbread rolls
Supergolden Bakes: Pumpkin gingerbread rolls
Supergolden Bakes: Pumpkin gingerbread rolls

For the fillings
I filled half the rolls with cinnamon sugar and the other with a pecan filling. To make the fillings mix softened butter with the other ingredients or spread softened butter on the dough then sprinkle the other ingredients on top, pressing down lightly with your hands.

Cinnamon sugar filling - double if using on entire batch
60g | 2oz unsalted butter, softened
50g | 1/4 cup light brown (or caster) sugar
1-2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional)

Pecan filling - double if using on entire batch
100g light brown sugar | 3.5oz | 1/2 cup
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
100g  3.5oz unsalted butter
100g | 3.5oz pecans, ground in a food processor

Pumpkin gingerbread rolls
Makes 15-18 depending on size
160g | 5.6oz Greek yogurt
80g | 2.8oz Libby's solid pack pumpkin (or other unsweetened purée)
1-2 tbsp molasses (or treackle)
80g | 2.8oz unsalted butter
3 large eggs
500g | 4 cups | 17.6oz white bread flour, plus extra for dusting and rolling
100g | 3.5oz | 1/2 cup soft brown sugar 
2 tsp fast action yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg beaten with small splash of milk
butter to grease

Method
  1. Put the wet ingredients (yogurt, pumpkin, molasses and butter) in a measuring jug and microwave for a few seconds until butter is mostly melted. Add the eggs and mix it all together with a fork.
  2. Put all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, yeast, salt and spices) in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
  3. Start mixing on low speed then add the wet ingredients. Continue mixing for 7-10 minutes until the dough comes together and passes the windowpane test. You may need to add a little more flour if the dough is very sticky.
  4. Cover and let the dough rise for 2 hours or until nearly doubled.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Generously grease two or three large cake tins or pans with butter (as I cut my rolls quite thin I had to use three large cake tins).
  6. Dust your worktop with flour and tip the dough on to it. Knock it back and divide into two sections.
  7. Roll out into a rectangle roughly twice as long as it is wide. You can trim the edges with your scraper for a neater result. 
  8. Spread the filling over the entire surface avoiding the edges. Roll the dough, starting with the long side, into a log shape. 
  9. Use the pastry scraper to cut into equal sections and place into the prepared pans leaving some space between the rolls to allow them to rise.
  10. Cover and leave them to rise again 1-2 hours until puffy and plump. Brush with the egg wash (totally forgot to do that with first batch).
  11. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. Cool slightly before drizzling with caramel or frosting with cream cheese glaze.
Simple cream cheese glaze
5 heaped tbsp full fat cream cheese 
1/2 tbsp milk (or lemon juice) - more to thin if needed
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 tbsp icing sugar

Method
  1. Put all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix together with a fork or whisk until smooth and runny. If the glaze is too runny adjust by adding more icing sugar. If too thick add a little more milk or lemon juice. Spread over the buns once they have cooled down a little. 
  2. I used this butterscotch caramel to drizzle on  half the batch of rolls but a good shop-bought caramel would also work well.
Supergolden Bakes: Pumpkin gingerbread rolls
Supergolden Bakes: Pumpkin gingerbread rolls