Welcome to the first of a new weekly series! The Chef and I will see me cook a recipe from my cookbook library. It could be a dinner, maybe a breakfast or something sweet, the idea being to a) use my cookbooks more thoroughly and b) show how a recipe plays out for a normal human.
This week I’m (finally) cooking from Jamie’s 15 minute meals. Yes yes, we all know the drill, 15 minutes when you have a staff working for you but my attitude is less the amount of time it takes you and more cooking with fresh ingredients and trying recipes you otherwise wouldn’t. This didn’t take me 15 minutes but it definitely took me less than 30. Probably closer to 20.
All my normal eaters ate it and loved it. Even the lentils. Jasper, the not normal eater, ate and loved the chicken. Small mercies. Jamie serves it with a warmed loaf of bread to soak up the juices and I strongly urge you to do the same (I wasn’t going to bother but thought, no, do as the recipe says). It rounded out the meal beautifully. Next time I’d probably use some pita or flat breads.
Things I did differently:
- I used an extra tomato and was glad I did
- He seasons the chicken with 1/2 tsp cayenne, I used about 2 tsp of smoked paprika instead
- I used streaky bacon instead of pancetta and fried it off separately after cooking the chicken whereas he adds it to the pan of the almost cooked chicken. Streaky bacon is the short bit of the bacon, my Woollies stocks the D’Orsogna brand variety of it and stocks it in the meat section of cured meats, not with the other bacon (for reasons I am yet to understand).
- His recipe uses a bunch of asparagus that he cooks off with the chicken at the same time as the pancetta, I didn’t do this.
Spiced chicken with bacon & spinach lentils
Adapted from Jamie Oliver, 15 Minute Meals
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- olive oil
- 2 x 400g tins of lentils
- 2 tomatoes
- 200g baby spinach
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- 4 heaped tbsp natural yoghurt
- 4 x skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1 handful fresh thyme (or other fresh herb of your choice, tarragon would work nicely)
- 6 rashes streaky bacon
- crusty bread
- Peel your onion and carrot and blitz in a food processor with the rosemary
- Put a glug or two of oil in a fry pan with high sides and start sauteing
- Get a really large sheet of baking paper out on your bench. Scatter over a generous amount of salt, pepper and the paprika. Rub into the chicken all over (if you've been generous there's enough for both sides and a good rub into the chicken).
- Fold the baking paper over the top of the chicken (I told you it needed to be a big sheet) then get a rolling pin and bash it to about 1.5 cm thick. (I didn't do it thin enough so it took longer to cook for me)
- Get another fry pan on with a glug of oil then add the garlic cloves, the herbs and the chicken. Fry for about 4 minutes on each side until nicely golden and cooked through.
- Back to the veg in the other pan, add the two tins of lentils with the water they're in (ie don't drain them) and the tomatoes which you've chopped up roughly (I just blitzed them to chunky in my little mini blender as I'd already using it for the onion and carrot. Put the lid on and leave to simmer
- Roughly chop the spinach in the food processor - you don't want it pulverised so just pulse it until it's shredded but not moosh. Add to the lentils with the red wine vinegar.
- Lift the chicken out of the pan, you might need to give it a wipe down before cooking the bacon and then fry off the bacon.
- Put the lentils into a wide lipped platter (it's runny so don't go and use some flat platter contraption) and dollop over the yoghurt, give it a little swirl through.
- Cut the chicken up on an angle and place over the top then put the bacon on top of that.
- Serve with crusty bread or pitas.