Thursday, 15 March 2012

Stingray chicken

The origins of the verb 'to marinate' date back to the days when our forefathers (or more like fivefathers it was so long ago) used to preserve food in aqua marina, or brine to you and I (which would have made the character in Stingray a lot less appealing).

From those origins spawned the idea to tenderize and flavour(ize) meat with acidic liquids such as lemon or wine, with complimentary herbs and spices.

Purveyors of Asian cuisine are masters in this department. Indeed a new British classic, chicken tikka masala, involves marinating - great recipe here. But it doesn't have to be complicated. Once you've mastered some flavour combinations, you too can reap the benefits.

This dish uses:
  • Lemon;
  • Ginger;
  • Soy;
  • Honey; and
  • Thyme
for the marinade as well as:
  • chicken legs (or thighs, or breast with the skin on);
  • basmati rice; and
  • mixed vegetables for stir frying. Enough to feed all of your hungry bellies (not implying bovine descendancy, I mean family)
The process involves slicing the chicken's skin and placing in a clear plastic bag with all the marinade ingredients, for all the flavours to infuse. You can do this in the morning before work - will take 10 minutes max - and pop it in the fridge for when you get home. Top tip save some of the marinade for the cooking process. Don't be tempted to use the marinade in with the chicken in the cooking process as raw chicken can harbour nasties that can upset even the strongest of stomachs.

So, now you're back from a hard day's graft, let's get cooking.

Heat a large frying pan or wok with a tea spoon of oil and lightly brown the chicken legs to give the skin some colour and crunch. When you have an even colour throughout, remove the chicken legs from the wok and arrange them in a heavy casserole dish and cover in the remainder of the marinade. Place in an oven heated to 190c for 30mins.

Cook your basmati rice as directed on the packet, and fry off your vegetables. I chose broccoli, red peppers, garlic and spring onion, purely because food stocks were running low and this was the only choice! But you can try courgettes (zucchini to my American friends), aubergines (egg plant ditto) or my personal favourite, kale.

When the chicken's ready, the juices will run clear and will be a mouth watering golden colour.

I'd recommend to serve this feast in a large bowl: rice, two chicken legs for adults, and a large helping of the clean, crisp veg, with the juices from the dish drizzled on top.

This would be even better on the BBQ, enhanced by the smokey coals, so do try it when the evenings start get longing and warmer...

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