More cooking (yep, those restaurant reviews are still percolating) – and while this dish looks unspectacular it’s incredibly tasty and easy to do.
If you’re a cook who’s a little frightened by the idea of roasting a whole chicken, or just someone a bit short on prep time (that’s me!) then this dish is fantastic because it’s quick, requires just the one dish (the one it’s cooked in) and can be all prepped in advance, meaning you just need to put it in the oven about 50 minutes before you want to eat.
This is a Rachel Allen recipe that has been on my to-do list for ages. As is so often the case, the cooking time given is woefully inadequate and, with the oven up so high, you do need to be wary of the vegetables in particular burning. However, that is easily solved by popping a lid on part way through cooking. This has the bonus of creating some very tasty sauce that can be served with the dish.
Sadly, it is a bit anaemic looking (not just the fault of my photography this time!). If you were so inclined you could flash the chicken thighs on a grill pan prior to serving (being careful not to dry them out though!) but I suggest that if you’re particularly worried about appearance, serve it with a bright winter salad.
Potato-wise, we used the most beautiful, tiny kipfler potatoes that Andy picked up in Blackwood from the excellent Waggon Wheels (no website). This always busy fruit and vege shop stocks all the standards but also manages to squeeze in a range of varieties that you won’t find in supermarkets or even other fruit and vege shops. It’s one of my favourite places to buy veggies.
Do not be tempted to omit (or peel!) the cloves of garlic. After cooking, the skin comes away easily and the garlic cloves are so soft and so mellow in flavour that they add real depth and warmth to the finished product.
This was a big hit – and if you need to throw something together over Easter, I recommend it.
Quantities below are for 2 people, with tons of leftovers.
Rachel Allen’s Leek and Fennel Roast Chicken
- 4 chicken thigh fillets
- 1 bulb of fennel
- 1 large leek
- 6-8 large cloves of garlic, skin on
- 8-10 small potatoes
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 200°C fan (220°C conv).
- Take a large baking/roasting dish - preferably one that has a lid - and put a splash of olive oil in the bottom.
- Chop the leek into 1-2 cm chunks and roughly chop the fennel.
- If the potatoes are not evenly sized, cut them into even sized pieces. You want them reasonably small (smaller than a golf ball) so they cook!
- Add leek, fennel and potatoes to the baking dish with the garlic, season and toss through the olive oil.
- Finally add the chicken thighs and toss through, ensuring they are also coated in oil.
- Bake uncovered for about 20-25 minutes. Keep an eye on it to make sure that nothing is burning and then cover with lid and bake for another 20 or so minutes, until the chicken and potatoes are cooked.
- Serve hot on its own or with a garden salad.
I’ve got three restaurant reviews in the backlog but over the weekend I actually managed to fit in quite a bit of cooking. On Friday I made a banana cake. I had an idea that I’d attempt something along the lines of ‘food styling’ and re-photograph it but the cake is about 50% eaten and that hasn’t happened, so I might need to give that one up as a bad job.
Instead, we return to below average food photography but, with this recipe (from UK Delicious, where you can see a more styled photo!), very much above average bang for buck. The amount of time you need to invest is minimal (although this isn’t really a store cupboard staple recipe, so you will need to go shopping) but the end result is deceptively stylish. The other bonus is that any one of the three parts of the recipe – the pork, the creamed feta dressing or the warm salad, can be extracted and used elsewhere. The creamed feta dressing in particular is absolutely wonderful on potatoes!
If you have time to marinade the pork fillet, I recommend it – and it won’t do any harm to make a bit more marinade than you think you need! If you are lucky enough to have a pan which can go from stove to oven, use this for cooking the pork but be aware that you may need to adjust the cooking time – and be vigilant that the pork doesn’t get too brown or crispy. If it looks like it is, turn it over and cover with tin foil.
All up this took less than 45 minutes to put together – and everything was done by the time the pork came out of the oven so we even had 10 minutes of resting time spare.
Definitely a quick mid week meal option, but also smart enough to serve to others.
Pork Fillet with Warm Fennel and Apple Salad
- 1 pork fillet (around 350g)
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1-2 cloves of garlic
- salt and pepper
- 1 red apple
- 1 small bulb of fennel
- generous handful of hazelnuts, toasted (& skins removed, if you can be bothered)
- 3 large radishes
- juice of half a lemon
- 100g feta (Australian of course!)
- 2-3 tbsp cream
- For the pork, crush the fennel seeds and garlic and mix with a generous amount of olive oil and seasoning. Cover the pork fillet and, if you have time, leave to marinate.
- When you're ready to cook, preheat your oven to 200°C fan (220°C convention). Brown the pork in a pan and then roast for 25 minutes. If you're using the same pan, adjust cooking time down.
- Rest, covered, for 10 minutes.
- While the pork is cooking, prepare the salad. Roast the hazelnuts. If you can be bothered, rub them in a tea towel to remove the skins, and then chop roughly.
- Slice the fennel, apple and radishes using a mandoline (we used setting 3 for the apple and 2 for the fennel and radish - you don't want them sliced so finely you lose crunch).
- Put the fennel, apple, radish and hazelnuts in a pan, dress with olive oil and lemon juice and warm slowly on a very low heat.
- To make the creamed feta, chop the feta and put in a small blender and beat with the cream until smooth. You may need to add a little more cream. Heat slowly in a small pan or in short (10s) bursts in the microwave (pay attention as you don't want it to curdle!).
- Serve the pork fillet sliced on the warm salad. Add some boiled potatoes and dress with the creamed feta, serving the remainder on the side.
Ages and ages ago (probably, almost literally, years ago) a friend told me that her son was an enthusiastic eater of zucchini and haloumi fritters. At the time I thought “oh, that sounds nice, I must make those” and then never got around to it.
We typically don’t eat a huge number of zucchini (I tend to call them courgettes): I love them but Andy is somewhat ho-hum about them. So when it comes to shopping, they always run a very poor second to broccoli (universally loved in our household).
However, recently we’ve had something of a glut of zucchini forced upon us. Mum grew them (in the right conditions they grow like weeds) and there were also a few in my Keane’s vege box.
So the time was well and truly nigh for breaking into zucchini fritter territory.
I had a quick google and cobbled together my own recipe based on what seemed to be very standard kind of territory. These were very quick to make – although you do need to allow a little time for grating and salting the zucchini. Herb-wise you can mess around – I used mint, but dill would definitely work just as well, and some recipes use just parsley. My advice would definitely be to use FRESH herbs rather than dried. And if you happen to have a lemon hanging around, grate the rind of half of it into your mixture.
As always, be generous with your seasoning. It is best to fry one off and adjust the seasoning before committing yourself to the whole batch!
Serve the fritters hot, with salads.
Andy and I loved these. And while these are perfect toddler food, our toddler was not bothered either way.
And if you don’t want to print, download a pdf of the recipe!
Zucchini and Feta Fritters
- 3 zucchini, coarsley grated
- 4 spring onions, finely sliced
- 100g Australian feta, finely chopped
- ~ 1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp verjuice (or lemon juice)
- ~ 4 tbsp plain flour
- Coarsely grate the zucchini and, in a large bowl, mix through a generous pinch of salt. Set aside at room temperature for approximately half an hour.
- Squeeze the moisture out of the zucchini - by hand is fine - and place it in a clean,dry bowl.
- Stir through the spring onions, feta and mint and then add the eggs one at a time. Mix through the verjuice and then stir in the flour, one tablespoon at a time.
- You may not need all the flour - you want to bring the mixture together but you don't want the mixture to become dry. The more flour you use the greater the risk you'll taste raw flour in the finished product. You're much better off to have a slightly too loose mixture - you can always add more flour once you've fried your test fritter!
- Heat some olive oil in a non stick pan. Add the fritter mix to the hot pan by the tablespoon, taking a moment to spread each fritter out a little. In my 20cm pan, I was able to cook about 4 fritters at a time.
- Flip the fritters when the base in browned. They're easy to flip when they're ready. If the fritters have been spread out, they'll be ready when brown on both sides.
- Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot.