Chicken with Lemon and Orzo (pasta)

Do you hate washing dishes? me too.  What I do love are simple one pot recipes that you can throw in the oven and forget about.

Orzo before it’s cooked

If you haven’t come across orzo before, its a type of pasta that looks like big fat grain of rice.  I discovered it by accident ages ago when I wasn’t concentrating in the supermarket and thought it was rice.  It’s fantastic in soups and stews because it’s smaller than other pastas, but you can treat it like normal pasta.

Topped with lemon slices and herbs before going in the oven.

You can tweak this dish to suit what you have in the fridge.  I used thyme and dill because I had some in my window box, but use what herbs you like.  The thyme, dill and lemon gives it a really nice flavour that reminds me of Greek dishes.

Ingredients

1 large, or 2 small chicken thighs per person (I use ones with skins on and on the bone but boneless ones are fine too)

2 Carrots

1 Leek

2 Stalks of celery

350 Grams Orzo (dry weight)

800 ml Chicken or vegetable stock

2 Lemons (juice of one lemon, and the other sliced)

2 Tbsp Herbs (I used dill and thyme)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, and heat an oven proof dish on your stove top before adding the chicken thighs
  2. Seal the chicken on each side, and then remove the thighs and set to one side.
  3. Add the vegetables (chopped into 2cm chunks) to the pan (if using skinless thighs, add a tablespoon of oil to the pan) and fry gently for 5 minutes.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed
  4. Add the orzo, lemon juice and stock to the pan and stir well to make sure any delicious chicken brown bits from the bottom of the pan are stirred into the stock
  5. Place the chicken back into the dish and top with the slices of lemon and herbs.
  6. Cover the dish and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes

Sichuan Pork and Green Beans

I have to give a shout out to my friend Nuala for turning me into this, and I love it.

If you haven’t used Sichuan pepper before you can by it ready ground in most big supermarkets. You can also buy packets of the whole peppercorns, and are reddish black in colour. While there is some heat, they are also really aromatic and work nicely in lots of other recipes.

This makes a great mid week dinner and is ideal for anyone following a low carb diet. If you’re not then enjoy this with rice or noodles. I used frozen greens to save time.

Ingredients

250 Grams Minced pork

500 Grams Green beans blanched on boiling water

Thumb sized piece of ginger (grated)

2 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

2 Scallions/spring onions (finely chopped)

1 Red chilli pepper (finely chopped)

2 Tbsp Soy sauce

1 Tbsp Sesame oil

1 Tsp Ground Sichuan pepper

Method

  1. Blanch the green beans in boiling water and drain
  2. Fry the minced pork in a large frying pan or wok until no longer pink
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for a further 5 minutes. If the mix starts to catch in the pan you can add a little water to stop this

Lockdown Chilli

Yep, we’re in bloody lockdown again and we’re all trying to limit how much we go out.

With this in mind, like last time I decided to have a look and use up food I already had at home. I first made this type of chilli years ago when I was a flat broke student. My Mum would sometimes send me home with a bag of tinned food. I came up with this version of chilli and it’s surprisingly flavoursome.

I know most people wouldn’t use corned beef in a chilli, but it works well. If you don’t want to use baked beans you can use whichever beans you like, just maybe add some vegetable stock to loosen up the mix. This is also a good dish to use up any vegetables that have been hanging around your fridge or freezer for a while.

It’s cold and miserable outside and while I’ll admit it’s not fine dining it’s quick, cheap and proper comfort food. This goes well with rice, or pasta, in a baked potato or with garlic bread.

Ingredients

340 Gram Tin of corned beef (cut into cubes)

500 Gram Carton of passata (or a tin of chopped tomatoes)

410 Gram Tin of baked beans

1 Tbsp Oil

1 Tbsp Tomato purée

1 Onion (chopped fairly finely)

1 Carrot (grated)

1 Red pepper (cut into 1 cm chunks)

1 Tsp salt

1 Tsp Ground cumin

1 Tsp Chilli powder

1 Tsp Ground coriander

3 cloves of garlic

Method

  1. Heat your oil in a large flat bottom pan. Fry the carrot, pepper, and onion over a medium heat until the the onion becomes translucent
  2. Add the garlic, spices, tomato puree and corned beef, and stir through the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes until the corned beef starts to break down.
  3. Stir in the passata, and baked beans, mixing well. Cook over a medium heat for a further 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking
  4. Serve with your favourite carbs. This keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days

Pork Chops with Sauerkraut

I know this recipe might divide opinion and I’ll admit sauerkraut isn’t something I normally buy. I ended up with a monster sized pack of it from my vegetable box delivery as a substitution.

I asked round family and friends if there was anyone who was a sauerkraut lover, and couldn’t find a taker. One of them come back to me to explain that I should try to do something with it, as sauerkraut along with other fermented foods like kimchi are amazingly good for your gut health and we should all be eating more of these.

The only recipe I could think of was one I tasted about a million years when I lived in Germany. Kathy, the love lady I worked for made this dish for me once. It might sound a bit strange, and I know sauerkraut and pineapple aren’t two ingredients you would naturally think of together, but give it a chance. When they’re teamed up with pork chops, it works kind of like sweet and sour pork. The sauerkraut also helps make the pork really tender. This makes a great uncomplicated mid week dinner.

Ready for the oven

Ingredients

4 Pork chops

500 Grams Sauerkraut (drained)

350 Grams Can of pineapple rings

Method

  1. Place pork chops in an oven proof baking dish
  2. Cover with the drained sauerkraut, and top with the pineapple rings
  3. Cover with foil and bake in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 20 minutes

Chicken Tagine

Chicken Tagine

Moroccan food is amazing, and healthy to boot. I had a proper tagine pot (authentic clay pot with a cone shaped lid), for all of 3 weeks before breaking it. The good thing is that you can make in any pot or dish with a well fitting lid. I cooked my tagine on the stove top, but can bake it in the oven if you prefer.

Tagines are slow cooked stews, and can be made with a variety of meat, and vegetables. Authentic tagines often use dried fruit such as prunes or apricots to add sweetness to balance out the heat of the harissa. I didn’t have any dried fruit, but this is still delicious. This is pretty hot, if you can’t handle alot of spice use less harissa or do what it did and add a dollop of yoghurt to cool things down.

Serves 4

8 Small Chicken thighs

1 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Large carrot

1 Large onion

1 Large courgette

1 Red pepper

1 Tsp Ground cumin

2 Cloves of garlic (minced)

1-2 Tbsps Preserved lemons (I made these myself, but you can also buy them from most supermarkets

1 Tbsp Harissa Paste (Again I made this myself, but you can buy this in supermarkets)

500ml Chicken stock (I used a stock cube)

400gm Can of chickpeas

1Tsp Salt

Method

  1. In a large pan with a lid, add the olive oil, and when hot add the chicken thighs and seal
  2. Cut the vegetables into chunks (I like this quite rustic)
  3. Add the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes
  4. Chop the preserved lemons finely and add to the pan along with the other ingredients and stir
  5. Put the lid on to the pot and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for 45 minutes
  6. Serve with cous cous and a dollop of yoghurt