Sweet and Spicy Balsamic + Mustard Chicken Roast

Some flavour combinations were made to be. One of those combinations has to be balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard. Add a touch of heat to it, and it is always a huge winner. I had eaten really tasty chicken tenders marinated in balsamic and mustard for 6 hrs, and cooked on a bbq some years ago, and the taste of those delicious pieces still haunt me.

Now this recipe can be thrown together in no time at all. As soon as you are home, throw it all together, pop it in the oven and let the oven do the hard work for you. The marinading of the chicken is really optional because the moisture from the mustard and the vinegar helps to maintain the tenderness of the chicken. I normally add a touch of water to my chicken whenever it’s roasting, or some chicken stock (depending on what I have on hand) to ensure that when it’s done the chicken doesn’t turn out dry. This really is a problem with chicken breast, but it’s a good idea anyway :).

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So I just marinaded the chicken straight in the baking tray, and that went straight to oven. #savedoncleanup! Just mix together the hot sauce, vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper, and some parsley too. Coat the chicken well and this is something I just like doing – add the garlic under the skin of the chicken so that you get that intense garlic flavour throughout the meat. Oh and the hot sauce! How could I forget.

I picked up some Byron Bay Chili hot sauce and oh my goodness it is phenomenal. I use it in so many marinades and it even made a feature in myΒ Bang Bang BroccoliΒ recipe and it was incredible. This hot sauce has mango in it, so it has that delicious sweet mango taste, but an intensely hot chilli finish. It is deceptively hot, which I just love. You can use tabasco, or sriracha even, but if you are in Australia… please just do yourself the favour and get your hands on some of this stuff.

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Now20170228_181031.jpg you want to cook the chicken for around 40 mins to the hour, depending on the thickness of your chicken. I used chicken drumsticks because they were on special (haha), but any cut of chicken would do. Remember to check if it’s cooked by just cutting into the thickest portion and ensuring the meat is cooked through.

 

Here is the recipe card, and trust me it is so worth it. Your kitchen is going to smell absolutely divine! Oh and be wary that you are going to get plenty of back bits, which are not for eating. Just remember that the hot sauce and mustard do have some sugar in them, so naturally these sugars are going to caramelise in the oven. You could absolutely use some of the left over flavour juices and sauce to make yourself a different stock, but I would avoid using those charred bits altogether.

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And that is it! It’s easy, and it is totally delicious. Mid week chicken dinners do not need to be a chore. It’s a cheap cut of meat, and it is an easy recipe to follow so it is perfect for those looking for a budget-friendly and healthy meal. I like serving the chicken with some onions that have rested in some salt, pepper and lime juice, along with a big heart salad. This chicken recipe is a great way to get that protein in your diet, and pair it with plenty of greens such as rocket, kale or spinach for a carb free and incredibly delicious dinner. If you find the heat overpowering go ahead and add some cheese, such as feta or ricotta, to your salad to allow your tongue some cooling creamy goodness.

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Review: Belle’s Chicken

Belles Hot Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

For a casual meetup after work one night, in my first week no less, a couple of friends and I decided to head to Barangaroo in the heart of Sydney city for some good American style friend chicken. Thankfully I only had to walk for 10 minutes from work, which wasn’t too bad.

Now I hadn’t heard much about Belle’s. The only thing I knew was that it was a place to buy chicken. Surprise surprise!! What I didn’t know was that they had an interesting range of spicy-ness which of course was a huge point of interest for me πŸ˜›

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In terms of the menu, it is short and concise. Only wings, drumsticks, tenders, and ribs on offer in terms of the chicken. Each of those comes with a side, which I thought were interesting. In a way I do like that the menu was so small and meant that the focus was completely on those few items. The real variation is in the heat of the chicken topping. Now they offer some fish and steak too, and burgers, but it’s clear from everyone eating at Belle’s that it is the chicken you really need to go for.

We opted for southern chicken tenders, the mildest option, with a broccoli and almond salad with blue cheese sauce, medium drumsticks with the house chips, and another round of medium drumsticks with the pickled vegetables both with ranch sauce. Β The Bar at the restaurant looked pretty good and was actually the front of the counters. We saw two fancy looking liquids and ordered both – the lemonade with cardamom and house tea.

The tenders, I thought we great. Tenders are just such a simple choice, and Belle’s does them fantastically. The chicken was crispy on the outside and beautifully moist on the inside. The blue cheese sauce was equally amazing, and rich and just slightly pungent. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the broccoli and almond salad mainly because I couldn’t taste the almond and the sauce was a little off almost bitter tasting. I ended up dipping the chunks of broccoli into the blue cheese sauce to just lift the flavour a little.

The medium wings were SALTY! This was just such a shame because the spice level was really lovely and manageable. But that salt content, was off the roof. Dipping the chicken into the sauces helped, but only slightly. The chicken left me feeling fairly parched, and thankfully we had that lemonade and tea to help the chicken go down nicely. The chips were decent, and with the ranch sauce tasted just like other chips to be honest. The pickled vegetables were nice, and tangy, and went well with the crunchy and spicy chicken.

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The drinks? LOVED THEM! The tea seemed to have some saffron through it, which was just so different and tasty. The tea wasn’t overly sweet which was great. I loved the cardamom in the lemonade. It kept it warm yet refreshing and wasn’t overdone at all. The drink was just laced with the spice.

Now for the voting?

The menu: 7/10

I liked the simplicity, but I would like to have seen a few more sides perhaps?

Ambiance: 9/10

Honestly Belle’s loses a point only because on the view of the cranes still constructing the Barangaroo area which does ruin the sight line a little. Otherwise the outdoor decked setting is really wonderful to enjoy the night in. That along with the fairy lights on the roof – spectacular.

The Food: 7/10

I loved the tenders, but not the salad. The spice of the drumsticks was good, but unfortunately that salt was far too overpowering. I’ve given extra points for the excellent drinks, but otherwise the food was fairly average.

Service: 7/10

The line moved fairly slow, and there really wasn’t much interaction with them. Overall they all seem fairly friendly, but perhaps more talk with them would be nice!

Average score: 7.5/10

Would I go back. Probably. Who says no to fried chicken that doesn’t make you sick?

Easy Chicken Cacciatore

This has to be a recipe that I have been wanting to make for at least a whole year. Countless times I have looked at the recipe, tried to prepare for it, but then it just never happened. So many times I saw this recipe on televisions, Food network ftw, and so many times did this recipe pop up on my you-tube ‘recommended list’ . What is Chicken Cacciatore??

So according to my research, it is an Italian chicken recipe which literally means a Hunter style chicken pot. It’s tender chicken cooked in a tomato sauce keeping it moist and literally falling off the bone. The ingredients in this recipe are so simple and easy to find. Sure it does take some time, but you won’t regret it at all… trust me.

Now typically you should use chicken marylands, but I went ahead with drumsticks because I had them on hand. Essentially you could use any cut of chicken, but to maximise the flavours you definitely want to use bone in and skin on pieces. This way when you brown the chicken in the initial stages of this recipe, you essentially render down the chicken fats. Then you end up cooking all the wonderful vegetables in this flavourful fat and well, everything becomes super delicious.

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This recipe uses what I would call the ultimate flavour trifecta (maybe 4-fecta. What is the actual word for this?) , onions, garlic and celery. Oh and add carrot to that too. In this recipe I think these are the essentials. I like using plenty of garlic, but of course that depends on your own taste. Now there aren’t any real spices apart from salt, pepper, and chili flakes, which makes the flavour so true to the vegetables in the recipe and so light on the stomach too.

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All of this combined with good ol’ canned tomatoes and you get this insanely delicious sauce, rich in flavour, and rich in texture too. The tomatoes will need a bit of sugar and extra salt to cook them through well, and soften down the chicken, and of course to cut the sourness of the fruit.

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What makes this recipe so great? The fact that it is literally so simple. You just have to let stew away for a really good 30-40 mins until the meat just seperates from the bones and the tomatoes have caramelised slightly. Here is the recipe card, and see for yourself just how tasty this one ends up ❀

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Chicken, Chive and Cabbage Dumplings

Who doesn’t love good old dumplings? I for one absolutely love them, and I often head over to a good dumpling or yum cha place for lunches and dinner. Aah the chilli oil ❀

Now dumplings are actually so easy to make at home! Yes they do take some time, but if you are prepared to put in some time and a little effort, you can make your own delicious dumplings at home. Now normally I would show/write about making the dumpling pastry too, however this time I actually used pre-made store bought gow gee wrappers which are perfect to make these delightful morsels πŸ™‚

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For me dumplings are like comfort food. In winter, in particular, you will fine me, a big bowl of dumplings, some chilli oil, and the entire series of New Girl, or Friends or Grey’s Anatomy. *Sigh* now you know I’m weird

Okay back to the recipe. I used Chicken mince, chives and cabbage as the title suggests, but I also added shitake mushrooms, shallots, ginger and garlic to the filling. I like to start the recipe by actually cooking off the vegetables, and mixing in rice wine vinegar, chili and soy while cooking these together. Then I mix in the chicken mince once the vegetables have cooled slightly.

I steamed my dumplings, and then pan-fried them. Nowadays you can find bamboo steamers everywhere (i.e. look in Kmart!), or you can use an Idli steamer (not even joking here). If you are using a bamboo steamer, it is IMPORTANT that you line the base. This is a MUST!! I line mine wither with baking paper (greased paper) OR some banana leaves or cabbage leaves.

You can alternatively pan-fry the dumplings, and then add some water, cover and then steam. I find my way a little easier, and there’s less a chance of any dough sticking or getting very mushy. It also means you get a lightly crunchy texture along with the smooth steamed dough when you eat these.

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Oh and the dipping sauces? I made an instant chilli oil – so simple. Make a quick paste of fresh chili, chili flakes and fresh garlic and mix the paste well into vegetable oil. Add some salt and pepper just to season, and set aside for a few hours.

The other dipping sauce was a mixture of fresh chilli, coriander stalk, soy sauce and some rice wine vinegar… and that’s it!

Folding the dumplings can be a bit tricky, but thankfully there are HEAPS of you-tube tutorials showing you the different ways to fold them. You basically have to stretch the dough and make tiny folds along the length of the dumpling, so it ends up looking slightly like a crescent moon. A pretty crescent moon.

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Alright now for the recipe. It’s a bit long, but trust me… these are worth it

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A couple of tips! Place your dumplings, once filled, onto a tray lined with baking paper (greased paper) to stop them from sticking to any surfaces. I basically use this lined tray for the entire process, and even serve the dumplings on them!

To serve, remember the dipping sauce! I also add some lime, fresh chili slices and a drizzle of chili oil πŸ™‚

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Fool Proof Roast Turkey

So since last year, my friends and I have made it a massive tradition to host Christmas and cook a delicious feat for everyone to eat together. Sort of like pot luck… but we all cook together and have heaps of fun with drinks and snacks and wonderful chatter.

This year we were 3 friends short! Yikes! We made the most of it, however, to celebrate Christmas as best as we could with plans to celebrate with the entire crew after new years.

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Christmas, as I’ve said in my numerous posts before, is truly my favourite time of the year. It’s the time to get together with the family and enjoy wonderful food, and give back to community in any way you can. I love every little bit about it… actually maybe not the heat…

but you get the point πŸ˜›

This recipe is inspired from the Laura Vitale recipe – here is the link!Β Β but with a few additions πŸ˜› I had a few extra things left over and did it in a slightly different manner. The recipe though is pretty damn simple, and straightforward. For a first timer making the turkey… it actually turned out really wonderful (I’m not saying it… my friends are). Oh and I’ve realised I actually prefer the white meat…

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Though that may be because the white meat was really quite tender.

The aromatics are essentially the same. The rosemary, thyme, sage, carrot, onion, garlic and celery. But! I added parsley, apple, lemons and some figs to the mix to create a sweet yet sort of tart flavour profile. It actually turned out wonderful! The glaze added just that added punch of flavour and sweetness to the tender meat.

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I used a Steggles frozen turkey, which was a really great decision! It came really well cleaned, the only thing I had to do was chop off some excess skin and the neck piece from inside the cavity. It took a whole 4 days to defrost, which also includes leaving out in the sink overnight! It was a 5 kilo tukey after all -_-

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Boop di boop. And that is it!! The apple and figs make for a lightly sweet glaze and really different flavour to the turkey and gravy. It gives it a kind of hint of Christmas right in the meat πŸ˜›

By roasting the turkey uncovered it allows the skin to crisp up really nicely, and get wonderful colour of the skin too. By initially keeping the meat covered helps to circulate the heat and keep everything wonderfully moist πŸ™‚

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I recommend checking out some youtube videos for advice on cleaning the turkey, and learning how to stuff and baste it, but this recipe is one I definitely want to try again and really expand on πŸ™‚

I hope you can feel a little inspired to cook turkey this year. Trust me it was my first time, and it wasn’t too bad at all πŸ™‚