Buttery roast chicken

If you want a fail-safe method for keeping your roast chicken lovely and moist, then look no further! All you need to do is shove a load of butter under the bird’s skin and you’re good to go. This recipe can be adapted to incorporate different flavourings. I’ve gone for garlic (of course), but you could add some fresh herbs, or keep it simple with salt and pepper.

Serves 2 with left-over chicken for a nice salad the following day

Ingredients:
1 free-range chicken (approx 1.5 kg)
75 g butter
3 large cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3-4 medium onions, chunked
200 ml white wine (or you could use chicken stock or water)

For the spice rub (optional):
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chipotle chilli powder (or smoked paprika)
1 tsp cayenne pepper

For the broccoli cheese:
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
120 g cheddar cheese
60 g butter
100 g double cream
150 ml full-fat milk
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C

First, prepare a bed of onions for the chicken to sit on. Then, prepare the flavoured butter by whizzing the garlic, butter, salt and pepper. You can do this by hand – just finely chop the garlic and beat it with the butter until it is fully incorporated.

IMG_2653IMG_2655IMG_2657

Starting from the neck-end of the chicken, gently separate the skin from the breast, trying not to pierce the skin itself. Push the flavoured butter underneath the skin and try to cover as much of the breast as possible. Spread the remaining butter all over the chicken, not forgetting the nooks and crannies, such as the armpits.

IMG_2666IMG_2669IMG_2673

If using, mix the spice-rub ingredients together and sprinkle all over the chicken. Add the wine/stock/water to the dish (to stop the onions burning) and roast in the oven for 20 mins per 500 g, plus an extra 20 mins, or until the juices run clear.

Meanwhile, prepare the broccoli cheese. Steam/boil the broccoli until tender, and place into an oven-proof dish. Add the remaining ingredients to a pan and heat, whisking, until everything is melted and the sauce is smooth. Pour the sauce over the broccoli, and finish with lashings of black pepper.

IMG_2683IMG_2685IMG_2686

Bake in the oven, with the chicken, for 20 minutes. Serve with the chicken, the onions and some of the lovely buttery chickeny pan juices.

IMG_2694IMG_2696
IMG_2707

Advertisements

Easy-peasy hol-lard-aise sauce

Ok so this isn’t actually made with lard, but it is easy-peasy so the title is at least half right.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
100 g butter
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 egg yolk
Pinch of salt and pepper

Place the vinegar in a small pan over a high heat and reduce by half. Add the butter, salt and pepper, and continue to heat until the butter has melted.

IMG_1447IMG_1450IMG_1451

Meanwhile, place the egg yolk in a bowl and whisk until foamy. Slowly add the butter mixture to the egg, whisking constantly so that the egg doesn’t scramble.

IMG_1452IMG_1453IMG_1454

At this point it is ready to serve, but if you prefer a mayonnaise-like consistency, return the mixture to the pan over a very low heat (I use a heat diffuser) and stir until the desired consistency is reached. Serve with a some asparagus, bacon and a poached egg.

IMG_1459IMG_1468

**For bearnaise sauce, just fry a small, finely chopped, shallot before adding the vinegar, and finish with a tbsp of chopped tarragon. Really good with steak!

More things should be cooked in butter

Chicken drumsticks. Not my favourite parts of a chicken, if I’m honest. Too many bony sinewy bits make them more hassle than they’re worth and, as such, I very rarely buy them. We did get some in our meat box, though, so I decided to treat these happy chicken drumsticks with a bit of time, care and attention. They turned out beautifully, and I don’t think I would want them any other way!

Confit chicken drumsticks with a tomato and red pepper sauce

Ingredients:
For the chicken:
5 chicken drumsticks (or any number you want to cook!)
1 tbsp salt
About 400 g butter (depending on pan size)
3 large cloves of garlic
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp whole black peppercorns

For the sauce:
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
3 sweet pointed peppers, roasted (from a jar), sliced
1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 tbsp tomato purée
6 medium tomatoes, chopped (or 1 tin chopped tomatoes)
200 ml white wine
1 tbsp butter + 2 tbsp olive oil for frying
Salt & pepper to taste

Generously salt the drumsticks and leave them in the fridge overnight or for a few hours (I salted them in the morning and cooked them in the afternoon). When you’re ready to cook the drumsticks, wash off the salt marinade and pat the drumsticks dry with kitchen paper.

Pre-heat the oven to 100°C.

Melt about half of the butter in an oven-proof pan that’s just big enough to hold the drumsticks. Add the drumsticks, garlic, thyme and peppercorns.

IMG_0501

Add more butter to the pan until the drumsticks are fully submerged. Bake in the oven for about 3 hours (but they can be left longer, this won’t hurt!).

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the olive oil. Gently fry the onions and garlic until soft (5-10 minutes), along with the chilli flakes. Add the red peppers and fry briefly. Add the tomato purée and cook out for a minute.

IMG_0502IMG_0503

Add the tomatoes and mixed herbs, and cook until the tomatoes start to break down (about 5 minutes). Now add the wine and cook on a medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can serve the sauce as is, but I puréed it using a hand blender because I didn’t bother peeling the tomatoes!

IMG_0505IMG_0506IMG_0507

Serve the chicken drumsticks with a generous amount of the sauce, along with some veggies (dressed with some of the butter from the chicken pan).

IMG_0508

The chicken will be lovely and soft and should come away from the bones with very little effort!

IMG_0511

Make your own butter!

Anyone on an LCHF diet will no doubt have a fridge full of cream. In my case, the cream was over-flowing (accidental over-buy, oops) and there was no way we were going to use it up before its use-by date. So I made a flavoured butter. It’s so easy, and tastes delish!

Makes about 250g

Ingredients:
600 ml double cream (mine was extra-thick)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped / minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp parsley, finely chopped

Place the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer (you can also use a food processor), and beat on a high speed for 5-10 minutes (my extra-thick cream too a little longer). If you’re using a stand mixed, you will need a splash guard – I was a bit late applying mine so my walls were slightly re-decorated. You want to beat the cream way past the stiff peaks stage, until it separates into buttermilk and butter fat (or until there are yellow lumps floating in a milky liquid).

IMG_0090IMG_0091IMG_0092

Drain off the liquid (you can keep this to use in recipes that require buttermilk). Now you need to wash the butter to get rid of all traces of the buttermilk (this is the stuff that will go rancid if it’s left hanging around for too long) – knead the butter under a running tap and over a sieve to catch any runaways.

IMG_0093IMG_0095IMG_0099

You can use the butter as is, or you can add seasoning/flavouring. I flavoured mine with some chopped garlic, parsley and salt. Just return the butter to the (clean) mixer/processor, add the flavourings and mix until incorporated. Wrap the butter in parchment paper or cling film, and leave in the fridge to firm up until you need to use it.

IMG_0101IMG_0102

Great with a steak!

Great with a steak!

Making fish edible

I don’t like fish*. It’s too fishy. Plus there are all the bones, and the slimy skin… *shudder*. However, people keep telling me it is good for me. Plus it’s great for LCHF, especially oily fish (which are, of course, the fishiest of them all).

Then there is salmon. It’s an oily fish without the fishiness…but it is salmony (another flavour that does not appeal). Hmph.

So, to make some salmon less salmony I used the butter-garlic-lemon formula, and whilst there was an inordinate amount of bone paranoia on my part, I finished every mouthful – skin and all.

If, like me, you’re not the biggest fish fan, try this – you might be surprised.

Butter fried salmon

Ingredients:
2 boneless salmon fillets
A LOT of butter (see picture, the fillets should be swimming in it) – I think there was about 100 g in there.
3 cloves garlic, sliced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt & pepper

For the beans:
300 g green beans
50 g sliced almonds
50 g butter
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt & pepper

First, prepare the green beans. Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan (we tried to toss them like they do on the telly, but we just ended up getting almonds all over the hob. Probably best to use a spoon to turn them over), and steam or boil the beans for a couple of minutes. Set to one side and prepare the fish.

Melt the butter in a frying pan, and continue heating until it starts to foam (rather like when you make fondant potatoes). Add the salmon fillets, skin side down, along with the garlic and seasoning. Without moving the salmon (you want a nice crispy skin), baste the fillets with the butter. Continue basting for a few minutes, or until the fillets are cooked (until the flesh is opaque). Take off the heat, and stir in the lemon juice.

IMG_9881IMG_9883IMG_9885

Meanwhile, finish the beans. Melt the butter in a pan and sautee the beans for a couple of minutes (just to heat through). Then stir in the almonds, lemon juice and seasoning, making sure everything is coated.

Serve with the beans and plenty of lemony garlicky butter.

IMG_9889

*not to be confused with seafood. Love it.

A Valentine’s day LCHF treat – confit duck legs

We don’t really do Valentine’s Day, but tonight’s dinner would be the perfect treat for the loved one in your life. If you’ve never eaten confit duck before you need to try it. You won’t want to eat duck any other way! It’s slowly poached in fat – usually duck or goose fat, but I used butter (of course!). It ends up beautifully soft and melt-in-your-mouth. Yum!

Now this dish does require some forward-planning. You need to salt the duck legs overnight/12 hours. It is totally worth it though.

Serves 2.

Ingredients
For the duck:
2 duck legs
20 g salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
350 g butter (depending on pan size)
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled

For the creamed cabbage:
1/2 savoy cabbage, sliced
3 rashers smoked streaky bacon
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
100 ml white wine
30 ml double cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle the salt and pepper all over the duck legs, cover, and leave in the fridge overnight. This will draw out the moisture in the duck legs. When you’re ready to start cooking, rinse the salt off the duck legs (give it a good rinse, otherwise they will taste too salty), and pat them dry using kitchen towels.

Pre-heat the oven to 100°C.

Melt most of the butter in an oven-proof pan that is just big enough for the duck legs (otherwise you will need to use more butter). Place the duck legs in the pan, and add more butter until the legs are just covered. Add the whole peeled garlic cloves, and bake in the oven for 3 hours.

IMG_9754IMG_9755IMG_9758

When the duck legs are nearly ready, prepare the cabbage. Using 2 tbsp of butter from the duck pan, fry the bacon until crisp and cut into small lardons. Add the sliced garlic and sautee for a minute before adding the cabbage, salt and pepper. Stir fry for a couple of minutes and then add the wine. Place a lid on the pan and steam the cabbage for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and add the cream. When the cream starts to bubble and thicken, remove from the heat and set aside somewhere warm until you’re ready to plate up.

IMG_9761IMG_9762IMG_9764

Remove the duck legs from the oven. Heat some fat from the duck pan in a frying pan and fry the duck legs, skin-side down, until the skin is golden and crispy (just a couple of minutes).

IMG_9768IMG_9769

Serve the duck legs atop a mound of creamy cabbage, not forgetting the lovely sweet braised garlic from the duck pan! Finish with a spoonful of ducky butter.

IMG_9775

LCHF Survival guide

A few days ago a friend of mine, who is trying out LCHF, sent me a message asking for some ideas to help her with her first steps. I gave her a few bits of advice, so I thought I would share them with you in case you are, like my friend, “…just struggling with ideas and a bit scared of all the fat!”

Don’t fear the fat

So, for whatever reason (to lose weight, to prevent type II diabetes, to be rebellious), you’ve decided to kick that carb habit. There’s no question, you have to replace them with something, otherwise you will be chewing off your own arm before the first week is done. The answer: fat is your new best friend.

“Hang on,” you say, “isn’t fat bad for my heart?”

Well, apparently not so much. According to a 2010 research review, the link between saturated fat and cardio-vascular disease is tenuous at best, and the benefits of replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates (as a traditional low-fat diet is wont to do) are pretty much unsupported. But don’t just take my word for it, have a look for yourself, although be wary of any research that is funded by sugar/grain companies (=carbs are good), or by dairy/meat companies (=fat is good).

fats

Some sources of fat

So, if you find that you’re feeling hungry all of the time after having drastically cut your carb intake, you’re not eating enough fat. You need to welcome it into your life with open arms. Only small amounts will fill you up and help you with those carb cravings.

My favourite way of upping the fat is by cooking with butter…and using the butter as a sauce (none of this skimming off the fat rubbish). I challenge you to name a single vegetable that is not enlivened by good knob of butter.

If, like me, you are a bit of a carnivore, choose the fattier bits of meat. They will not only be tastier but they will fill you up (and they tend to be cheaper too). Go for streaky bacon instead of back bacon, skin-on chicken instead of breast fillets (and eat the skin!!), pork belly instead of pork loin, lamb shoulder instead of lamb shank, rib-eye instead of sirloin steak. If you’re cooking a roast dinner at the weekend, use the rendered fat from your meat joint for stir-frying your vegetables. Go on, be brave!

Vegetables are great

carbs

Serving size suggestions

If you’re struggling with what to have with your steak instead of mashed potato or chips, you need to reintroduce yourself to vegetables. Think about why you want those potatoes. Do they actually taste of anything?

There is a lot out there that isn’t a potato. Be adventurous, try things you haven’t tried before – you might like them! If in doubt, don’t over-cook it and have it with lots of butter and bacon. We were brave and had sprouts (or as my father-in-law calls them, “Belgian fart bombs”) the other day, purely because they were in season over here and they were really cheap. I pretty much poached them in butter with a load of bacon. Success. If it works with sprouts, it will work with anything. The blue table above gives the serving size for 16g carbs (if you’re going for about 50g of carbs per day spread over three meals). 20g of rice is not going to get you anywhere, but try eating 444g spinach (especially if it is cooked in butter and covered with cream). You only need to count the carbs if you’re having something from the carby half of the table.

It’s not just about the taste either, it’s about texture. You need to think about texture when you’re putting a meal together. Turning a cauliflower into “rice” (yes this is possible, just whizz up a raw cauliflower and steam it for a few minutes) is all well and good, but having it with a really saucy mince-based stir-fry will not rock your world. Slush + slush = vomit induction. You have to mix it up a bit and have a variety of textures on your plate. Crunchy stir-fried green beans or the like would be a much better option in this case.

Sugar cold-turkey

I suppose the first thing you might do when cutting sugar out of your diet would be to replace it with artificial sweeteners. I really don’t think this will help you. You need to give this diet a proper go for the first couple of weeks. If you avoid anything sweet your palate will change. Eventually you will find that everything will seem to taste a little bit sweeter (things like broccoli).

fruit

Fruit serving size

Just two weeks. It won’t kill you. Man the f**k up.

So what about fruit? If you’re being really strict with carbs, then fruit is technically a no-no. However, the sugar in fruit is a mixture of glucose and fructose, so it shouldn’t give you too much of an insulin spike as fructose is almost solely metabolised by the liver (although this has other problems, but Dr. Robert Lustig has a lot more to say on that topic, if you’re interested). Plus, if you eat the whole fruit (and nothing but the fruit, sorry couldn’t help it), instead of just the juice, you are getting the benefits of the fibre content. Personally, I never really ate fruit so it was easy for me to cut it out completely for the first two weeks. As always, however, not all fruit is equal, so here is another colourful table with some fruit serving size suggestions. Try berries instead of bananas and apples.

Plan ahead

You’re going to be eating more real food on this diet, which means you’re going to have to do quite a bit of cooking from scratch.

You need to plan ahead.

If you’re up and out of the house early in the morning, have your breakfast ready the night before. Eggs take no time at all to scramble or fry, but having a pan ready, along with having your ingredients together, will save you time in the morning (my husband goes to the extent of cracking the eggs into a cup the night before). Or, have a lovely creamy breakfast smoothie ready to eat straight out of the fridge!

If you don’t really get much time to cook during the week, make a couple of big meals at the weekend and freeze them in single portions for dinners or lunches. (As if by magic, this post by a fellow blogger popped up on my reader as I was writing this section – he gets the idea).

When you buy salad leaves, wash it all in one go and then it is ready to use whenever you want and you won’t have to bother washing it when you’re pressed for time. A green salad with lots of parmesan cheese, a creamy dressing and some bits of leftover bacon from your breakfast at the weekend will take minutes to throw together for a quick lunch on the go.

Snacking

If you’re eating enough fat at mealtimes you shouldn’t need to snack – I rarely need to eat lunch because I’m loving the fried breakfasts at the moment. However, for those of you who don’t just sit around in an office all day, you may need some LCHF-friendly snacks:

  • Two words: mini babybel. They’re not just for children.
  • Even better, mini babybel wrapped in a slice of chorizo. Nom.
  • Mixed nuts (although not too many).
  • Celery/cucumber sticks and a creamy/cheesy dip.
  • Luncheon meats.
  • Lots of double cream in your coffee.
  • A hard-boiled egg (although perhaps save this for when you’re walking around outside to avoid making a smell in your office – my colleagues learnt this the hard way, sorry guys).

ENJOY IT!!!

If you’re not enjoying this diet then you’re either doing something wrong, or it’s just not for you. But before you give up…are you completely sure you’re embracing the fat?

Fat=flavour. Chefs know this. So should you.

I used to think of cooking dinner as a bit of a chore, but now I look forward it. You will too, just give it a chance.

IMG_9750