After yesterdays little excursion to France, our feet are now firmly back on British soil, eating British food. All that French food, it’s very rich after all! I delved into the cookbook Jamie’s Great Britain, and chose to give Empire Chicken another go after the last disastrous time. For my very first blog post all those months ago (so young, so naive) I chose this recipe, but after marinating the chicken overnight it turned out our oven was broken and by the time it was fixed the poor chicken had been ungraciously chucked in the bin. I promised myself and my future readers that I would return to this tasty looking dish again, so not wanting to break a promise, here it is. Jamie Oliver came up with this recipe to combine the two favourites of Brits across the country: roast chicken and curry. Correct on both counts, at least for me anyway. The smell of roast chicken on a Sunday makes my mouth water and I become extremely impatient for Sunday lunch. Ditto with curry, I’m so impatient to eat it when at a restaurant that I devour it in record time. Usain Bolt would not be able to keep up. And god forbid you get in the way of me, popadoms and chutney. You marinate the chicken overnight in a mixture of yoghurt, spices and chillies (your fridge will smell amazing every time you grab the milk while this is in it), then cook in the oven alongside some crispy Bombay potatoes and an Indian gravy. While cooking these three smell fantastic, although don’t do what I did and decide to wash and dry your bedding on the same day, as they now smell like curry. I’m all for curry, but not in my bed. I’m very pleased to say that this meal was perfect and worth coming back to. The chicken skin was crispy and spicy, meat soft and with a subtle taste of curry and lemon (you have to chuck a boiled lemon inside the chicken, which is quite a squeeze I can tell you). I LOVED the Bombay potatoes, they were so much better than your takeaway versions as these are flavourful and crispy, adding an element of the good old roast potato into the mix. The only downside is the gravy, which is cooked in the oven under the chicken, catching all the juices. That isn’t the problem, as it tastes great, but there was so little of it that I struggled to get enough for just me. If you make this dish, I recommend at the very least doubling the amount. I’m being picky though, as it tasted great, like a mild curry. Naturally, cooking for one means I’ve got a lot of chicken leftover, meaning chicken sandwiches for lunch and then a chicken and mango Thai salad for dinner tomorrow. Got to see the advantages of being alone!
After yesterday’s slightly disappointing macarons, I felt like I needed something more satisfying, sweet and most importantly, soft. Sticking with Jamie’s Great Britain, I made Coconut and Jam Sponge, which most people will remember from school dinners of the past. Whether this is fondly or not depends on how your school dinners were. Mine were forgettable aside from the puddings. Jam and coconut sponge was definitely a favourite of mine along with chocolate toothpaste, which no one outside of the county I grew up in seems to have heard of. It was just chocolate goo on top of pastry really, but ah, what delightful goo it was. The coconut sponge I made today was again delicious, and tasted just like I remembered. There’s no real skill to this cake, it’s just a plain vanilla sponge smothered in blackberry jam and desiccated coconut. I could have made the jam from scratch but that’s not my bag, so a Hartley’s jar sufficed. The only mistake I made was taking the cake out of the oven a bit too early so that when I cut it into slices, the centre was still liquid and collapsed. Luckily the majority of the cake was cooked so I still got plenty of slices out of it to take to work tomorrow. Raw cake mix really doesn’t bother me, I scooped loads of it onto my plate as cake mix is always better than the finished article, but I can’t imagine it would have been too nice tomorrow lunchtime in the office.
I’ve been impressed by this book today, we got off to a bad start with the rabbit bolognese, but Jamie’s redeemed himself with the chicken and the sponge. British food may not have the elegance of French cuisine, but it has the taste and the comfort factor, which is far more important. This book definitely reminds people that as a country we have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to our food.