LCHF Chicken Parm

After the success of the pizza, I thought I would try something else Italian-ish. I’ve never actually had chicken parm, but really, what’s not to like? This recipe is a bit convoluted as I used the chicken skin to make the “breadcrumbs”, but you could make it simpler by using skinned and boned chicken thighs and a packet of pork rinds. You could of course go traditional and use chicken breasts, but they are: i) more expensive; ii) less tasty; iii) less fatty, and; iv) more likely to dry up. I also happened to make a triumphant tomato sauce, so I used all of it in the dish (not sure a real chicken parm would have so much sauce). You could save any extra sauce for use in something else if you’re not as much of a sauceophile as me!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
For the chicken:
4 chicken thighs
20 g parmesan cheese, grated
50 g ground almonds
Clarified butter for shallow-frying
Salt & pepper

For the sauce:
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 courgette, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
400g tin chopped tomatoes
200 ml white wine (about half a tomato tin’s worth)
Salt & pepper
Butter for frying

For the toppings:
250 g mozzarella cheese, chopped
50 g parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp basil pesto

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

First, prepare the chicken. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and place on a baking tray, as flat as you can. Season the skins with salt and pepper, place a layer of foil over them and place another tray on top. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until the skins are golden and crispy. Try not to eat them all at this point. Nachos anyone? Harvest any rendered chicken fat to use later. Place the skins on some kitchen towel and set to one side.

While the skins are in the oven, prepare the tomato sauce. Melt some butter in a pan and sweat the onions and garlic over a medium heat, until soft. Add the chilli flakes, dried basil and season well with salt and pepper. Add the pepper and continue to sweat for a few minutes until soft.

Next add the courgette and sweat for a further few minutes until soft. Now add the tomato puree, allow to cook for a minute and then add the fresh and tinned tomatoes, along with the white wine. Simmer for 20 minutes on a gentle heat.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare the chicken for frying. Remove the bones from the chicken thighs, using a sharp knife. Open the thighs out and give them a good bashing with a rolling pin, until they are nice and flat.

For the crumb, blitz up the crispy chicken skins in a food processor, and mix together with the ground almonds, parmesan cheese and some freshly ground black pepper.

Coat the chicken thighs in the crumb mixture (use a beaten egg if the crumbs don’t stick). Heat some clarified butter (and any harvested chicken fat from earlier) in a frying pan (enough to shallow-fry the chicken) until super hot (test by dropping in some of the crumb mixture – if it sizzles, you’re good to go). Fry the thighs, one at a time, for two minutes on each side until the crumbs are golden (don’t worry about fully cooking the chicken, it’s going to have some oven time).

Once the chicken has been fried and the sauce has had about 20 minutes of simmering, whizz up the sauce using a hand blender. Check for seasoning and add more if needed.

Now it’s time for layering! Place about a third of the sauce in the bottom of a shallow oven dish. Next, lay the chicken thighs all over the bottom of the dish and top with the mozzarella, parmesan and dollops of pesto (oh any any leftover crumbs, including the ones from the frying pan that fell off the chicken. Go ahead and pour the fat in there too). Cover the whole thing in the rest of the sauce and grate some extra parmesan on top, just for good measure.

Bake in the oven for approximately 35 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked, the sauce has reduced and the cheese is all lovely and melty. Serve a piece of chicken, with loads of the sauce (and cheese) and some token green beans (or green veg of your choice).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Low-carb paella

Some say pie-ella, some say pie-yay-ya (although I’m not entirely sure why). It’s pa-el-ya, people! Obviously swapping the rice for cauliflower is going to change the consistency (cauliflower doesn’t tend to soak up liquid), compared to a traditional paella, but this one managed to both smell and taste like one so two out of three isn’t bad.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
6 boneless & skinless chicken thighs, chunked
180 g raw king prawns
100 g cooking chorizo, chunked
1 small cauliflower, whizzed/grated
3 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 shallot/small onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, sliced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
200 g green beans (optional)
400 ml chicken stock
A few strands of saffron soaked in 1 tbsp water
1 tsp smoked/sweet paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Olive oil for frying

Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a shallow frying pan or paella dish, and brown the chicken pieces for 5-10 minutes then set to one side, leaving the oil and chicken fat in the pan. Fry the onion, garlic and chorizo for a few minutes until the onions are soft, and then add the chopped tomatoes.

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Once the tomatoes have turned mushy, add the sliced red pepper and continue to cook until the peppers have softened. Return the chicken to the pan, and add the prawns, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir until everything is coated. Mix the saffron (and it’s soaking water) with the chicken stock and add it to the pan, along with the green beans and whizzed/grated cauliflower.

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Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and some of the liquid has evaporated.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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).

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

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Chicken & peppers

I love me some peppers. This dish is super-easy to prepare and super-tasty. If you use chicken that’s on the bone it will stay moist (well, you have to try not to overcook it either), and you will have some lovely crispy skin to chew on, as an added bonus (and it’s cheaper).

Serves 2, with some left-over pepper goop for tomorrow’s dinner.

Ingredients:
2 part-boned, skin-on chicken breasts (or you could use chicken pieces)
1 red pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
400 g can chopped tomatoes
200 ml chicken stock
150 ml white wine
Salt/pepper to taste
2 tbsp butter/fat for frying

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Heat the butter in an oven-proof dish. Brown the chicken breasts and set to one side. In the same pan, fry the peppers, onion and garlic until softened. Add the mixed herbs and seasoning. Add the wine and bring to the boil. Add the tomatoes and enough stock to cover the peppers. Place the chicken breasts, skin-side up, on the top and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes (depending on size of your chicken pieces), until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened.

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Serve with some creamed spinach.

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Poached chicken with egg-fried cauli-rice

I’m not going to lie to you, I do miss rice occasionally. Especially if we have a stir-fry. This cauliflower version of egg-fried rice definitely puts the rice cravings at bay. If it’s not over-cooked it does have the quality of rice, and certainly tastes like egg-fried rice with a hint of cauliflower! If you haven’t boiled a chicken yet, then do it (as long as you have a big enough pan/small enough chicken). The chicken stays really moist, it cooks in no time, and it gets infused with all the flavours you add to the stock. YUM.

Ingredients:
1 small chicken (this one was 1.2 kg)
1 large onion, chunked
1 bunch spring onions
3 large cloves garlic
3 red chillies, chunked
5 cm piece of ginger, sliced
1 tsp Schezuan peppercorns
2 tsp five-spice powder
2 whole star anise
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp sesame seed oil
1 tbsp tamari sauce (or soy sauce)
1 stock cube / fresh chicken stock

For the egg-fried cauli-rice:
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten

To prepare the chicken, place all of the vegetables and seasonings/spices into a large pan and place the chicken (breast-side up) on top. Fill the pan with hot water – the water should reach up to the chicken thighs (this way the breasts will steam, rather than boil).

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Bring to the boil, cover, then turn the heat down and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked (test whether the juices run clear by poking the thickest part of the breast/leg with a knife).

Meanwhile, prepare the cauli-rice. Whizz the cauliflower in a food processor until it has a rice-like quality (not too finely whizzed. Yes I do have a pink Magimix).

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Heat the oil in a frying pan, add some of the spring onions and garlic from the chicken pot and stir-fry for a minute. Add the cauliflower and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add a ladle of stock from the chicken pot, cover, and simmer for a few minutes until the cauliflower is cooked (keep checking, it won’t take long). Push the cauliflower to one side of the pan, and add the eggs to the other. Scramble the eggs until they are almost cooked, and then mix everything together. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper (or extra tamari/soy sauce) as required.

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Carve the chicken, and serve with the rice, some steamed mange-tout, the cauli-rice and lots of the stock!

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Cheesy chicken and broccauliflower bake

Tonight’s dinner. It turned out so well I had to post it immediately! Tasty yum yum.

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts (I used part-boned), chunked
100 g pancetta, cubed (or lardons or bacon)
200 g taleggio cheese (or brie or camembert), cubed
1 small head broccoli, cut into florets
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 onion, sliced
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
200 ml white wine
2 tbsp creme fraiche / sour cream
1 tbsp jellified meat stock (or a stock cube)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (optional)
Olive oil or fat for frying
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
20 g parmesan cheese, grated

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

Boil or steam the broccoli and cauliflower until mostly cooked (they will cook more in the oven).

Meanwhile, fry the onion and garlic in an oven-proof pan until soft. Add the chicken pieces (I kept the bones in there to add flavour), pancetta and dried herbs, and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the white wine and simmer for 5 minutes.

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Remove the chicken, pancetta and onions from the pan, leaving all of the liquid behind. Add the xanthan gum (if using), taleggio, creme fraiche and stock and heat gently, stirring constantly, until the cheese has melted and the sauce has thickened. If the sauce gets too thick, just add a spoon or two of the water from the broccoli and cauliflower. Return the chicken mixture to the pan and add the broccoli, cauliflower and parsley. Mix well, season to taste, and sprinkle the top with the parmesan, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

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