“WHAT did you break?” Yer Man asked nervously glancing quickly around the kitchen.
Honestly, can a girl not set a nice table for her fiancé anymore? I try to do something nice and he’s straight in with the accusations, running off to check if his computer and Wii are still in the whole of their health.
Ok, so generally we eat dinner off our knees in front of The Simpsons, but tonight I felt like a change.
“I’m trying out a new recipe,” I said “I just thought it’d be nice to sit at the table and use the good wine glasses.”
He crossed himself and started muttering something that sounded suspiciously like the Rosary, flinging himself down on the sofa dramatically.
A little something you should know about me – I don’t do recipes. They don’t work for me. I can’t follow them. Anything to do with measuring or grams or ounces or milligrams, I just freak out and it ends up an unholy mess. I’m actually a decent cook, if I’m making something up myself, but not if I’m following someone else’s instructions.
Yer Man paled further and a bead of sweat started to make its way slowly down his forehead.
“Don’t you remember the Cous Cous Incident?” he asked pleadingly “won’t someone PLEASE think of the children?”
I once made both of us violently ill by royally fucking up a simple cous cous recipe and haven’t been able to live it down since, but tonight I was determined. I was going to follow a recipe and cook a meal and that was that.
A cousin of mine, Edward Hayden, on my Mam’s side, is a chef at Dunbrody House (www.dunbrodyhouse.com) and has recently launched his own cookbook. For the past few weeks he’s been detailing some of his favourite recipes in the Sunday World which Mammy Dunne has been squirreling away for me. I decided to throw caution to the wind and give his Slow Braised Chicken in Wine a go.
Ingredients then: chicken breasts/thighs/legs/whatever you’re into yourself. An onion. Two carrots. Mushrooms. Celery. A leek. Three cloves of garlic. One glass of red/white wine. 900 ml of chicken stock. Cherry tomatoes. Tablespoon of plain flour. Salt and pepper.
Grand, I had all of that.
Except the garlic.
And the celery.
Ok, leaving out the garlic and the celery. I have a love/hate relationship with garlic anyway. I love it, but it does not agree with me at all and nine times out of ten I’m ill after it.
Ok, here we go.
Chop up all the veg. That was easy. Only a minor cut to my left index finger and sure, that could happen to a Bishop. And the bleeding stopped after a while. Anyway, bleeding is good, it means the wound is healing.
Brown the chicken in the pan. Handy enough. Oil got a bit splashy though. Actually oil was bloody boiling hot and I realised I had been hit in the face several times, leaving me with scorching red marks down my cheek. Chicken was brown enough at that stage so turned off the instrument of torture. Remove from the pan and put into a deep casserole dish.
Add in all the veg to the pan and fry, sorry, sauté, for five mins. Easy peasy.
Mix in the flour to dry up all the juices. Yack! It looked manky, all congealed! Still, I suppose a professional chef knows what he’s talking about!
Add in the stock and the wine now. That looked much better. Bring it to the boil. Mmmmmmm it smelled delicious!
There was an awful lot of liquid though. And veg. Like, really, a lot. For two chicken legs.
I had a quick goo at the recipe and realised where I went wrong. The quantities were for six people, not two. Note to self: bother to READ the recipe before you begin cooking!
Anyway, it didn’t matter, it just meant there would be lots of lovely gravy jus to go over the chicken.
Pour veg and gravy jus mix over chicken in the casserole dish and put in the oven at 170 degrees C (Gas mark 3) for one hour and 15 minutes.
“An hour and 15 minutes?!” Yer Man was aghast. And starving. I had to placate him with Doritos. Good food takes time after all, he’d simply have to wait.
Just before the chicken was ready to come out of the oven, I whipped up my patented spicy rice to accompany it.
Basically onions, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper, in a pan with some olive oil. Add in some Basmati rice. Cover with chicken stock. Stick a lid on. Leave on a simmer for ten minutes.
As the timer went off I nervously took the chicken out of the oven. It smelled absolutely heavenly. There was an awful lot of gravy jus though. Far from reducing down, it seemed almost to have doubled. I REALLY should have read the recipe before I started cooking anything.
I fished about and found the two chicken legs and while they were almost drowned in the liquid, they were braised to perfection. Silky soft meat almost fell off the bone. I covered them with the rich, onion-y mixture and added some rice to the side of the plate.
It was, quite possibly, the best thing I’ve ever tasted. Neither of us spoke for about 15 minutes as we inhaled fork after fork of ambrosia.
Ok so I have a badly severed finger, third degree burns on my face and made enough gravy jus to feed an army, but God dammit, I cooked!