Friday, 11 April 2014

Jack Monroe's Cola Chicken with Joy's additions

First of all, acknowledgement to Jack Monroe for the base recipe which is great in its own right.  It's from her recipe book, A Girl Called Jack, which I would urge you to consider buying.  It's one of the few recipe books I keep re-reading.  The recipes are simple, sensible and adaptable (adaptable in important for me) - and they taste jolly good too.
There's a great review of the book here, if you are interested.
Borrowed from Google Images)

This what I did with her Diet Coke Chicken.  Apologies for the long list of ingredients - it's not as bad as it looks as I already had it all in the freezer, cupboard or garden.  As I've added so many side comments, I will underline the ingredients for the sake of clarity!

Ingredients to make enough for five or six people
a good glug of oil
one large or two smaller onions (I actually used half a white onion I had left over and one red onion), peeled and sliced, not too finely.
two red peppers, seeded and chunked
a good squidge of garlic puree (or the equivalent in fresh garlic)
two little chorizo sausages, skin removed, cut into little bits.  You can buy mini ones that are basically fat-thumb sized.  I have some in the freezer after buying a pack of them a while ago for a recipe
three large chicken fillets (or the equivalent in smaller fillets), skinned and cut into chunks (size to suit you - mine were quite big)
a tsp or so of smoked paprika (ordinary paprika just doesn't wing it in the same way - it's well worth having smoked paprika as a store cupboard staple, I think)
two cans chopped tomatoes
the equivalent amount in volume of cola (I used the full fat version) - I measured it out in the tomato cans which also made sure I used all the tomato too
half a chicken stock pot (or stock cube)
three good sized chestnut mushrooms, sliced.  I used the stalks too as they are very flavoursome and waste not, want not!
a good tsp sundried tomato puree (again, because I had some - ordinary puree would be fine)
a cupful of frozen peas
chopped parsley (mine was free from the garden)

Interestingly enough, no salt or pepper.  It didn't need it!

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and saute slowly until softening.  Add the red pepper, stir well and continue to fry gently, stirring occasionally, until it's all softening.  Be careful not to let it catch.

Remove the veg with a slatted spoon, increase the heat just a little bit and add the chorizo and chicken.  Fry, stirring, until the chicken is white all over.

Add the smoked paprika and the garlic puree, stir well and cook it out for another minute or so, stirring.

Put the vegetables back in the pan and add the chopped tomatoes, stock pot and cola.  Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, lid off, until the sauce is reducing.  Stir now and again to prevent any sticking.  When it has reduced to about a third of the original volume it is about right.  The book underestimates how long this takes unless you are boiling it madly and risking it burning!
(I felt that the chicken and veg were properly cooked before the sauce had reduced enough so I removed them, reserved them and put them back in towards the end.)

When the sauce is thick, add the mushroom, the tomato puree and the peas, stir in and continue simmering.
Just before serving, add the chopped parsley, then taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  I didn't feel it needed any salt (the stock pot is quite salty) but tastes differ.

I served it with rice and garlic bread

A few notes
Most of the ingredients are cupboard/freezer staples.  However, don't waste anything
Chorizo sausage freezes well.  Just chop up (of necessary) whatever is left and freeze in portions that suit you.
Sundried tomato puree is expensive but you don't need a lot and it lasts for a while in the fridge.  Add a spoonful to anything tomato based for extra flavour.  Normal tomato puree would be fine instead.
I used chestnut mushroom because I love their flavour and texture and because I find they keep longer in the fridge than the ordinary ones.  However, you can use the normal ones and the value version is just as nice and MUCH better value!
If you buy a bunch of leafy herbs, so often the remains ends up in the bin.  Don't!  Cut off all the useable parts (the leaves and the tender stems), place them in a poly bag, seal the bag and pop it in the freezer.  When the leaves are frozen and friable, just crush them in the bag and, lo and behold, chopped herbs which can be used a spoonful at a time as needed.  Alternatively, you could mix the chopped remains with butter to make a herbed butter which also freezes well.

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