This is a firm family favourite, of course it is, it involves deep frying, but the chicken is so so tasty I can see past the painfulness of cleaning up post fry.
Although, I read it somewhere that the trick with deep frying at home is to do it in a really deep saucepan so your stovetop and surrounds don’t end up slicked with oil and they were right! You still get splatter but nothing like what I was getting using a wok.
So my main suggestions here are to make sure you use the right flour for dusting – sweet potato/potato/tapioca flour is what you’re looking for. Keep the bits of chicken nice and small so you can pop them in your mouth. Marinate the chicken for as long as possible. And don’t think of bypassing the spice salt, it, like a good salad dressing, makes the dish.
Delicious little bite-sized pieces of fried chicken with an earthy five-spice salt
For the chicken
1kg boneless chicken thighs cut into small bite-sized pieces
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp shaoxing wine
2 tsp sugar
scant tsp of Chinese five spice powder
Sweet potato flour (also known as tapioca flour, I often use straight potato flour)
Five spice salt
1 tbsp salt
¼ tsp five spice
¼ tsp white pepper
pinch of chilli powder
Toss the chicken with the marinade and set aside for as long as you've got
Toss the chicken in the potato flour - I am very gung-ho at this step, I'm sure you're meant to go gently and toss a few bits at a time but I chuck the whole bag of flour in a large bowl and dump the chicken in and toss to thoroughly coat
Heat the oil and then fry the chicken in batches for about 3 minutes until nice and golden. Again, I know the cardinal rule of not overcrowding the fry but last time I did the whole 1kg of chicken in just three batches and guess what, it worked! I will leave this to your better judgement and patience
Skim out any bits between batches and secretly eat
Drain on paper towel
For the salt
Combine all the ingredients and then scatter over the cooked chicken.
You know the chicken and cashew you get from your local chinese? In that thick comforting sauce of non-description? This is as close to it as I’ve been able to make.
It is based on Adam Liaw’s recipe in his Asian Cookery School book. It must be the fifth recipe I’ve made from it and it delivers time and time again.
The flavours are very gentle in this, there’s no soy, no oyster sauce, no garlic, just a few fine shreds of ginger, stock and shaoxing wine. It’s almost a convalescence food, wonderfully mild and nutritious. Get onto it.
So I made these a year ago and then promptly forgot I had ever done such a thing. Bizarrely last week Felix said, remember when you made spring rolls, and I was all, NEVER! Then, serendipitously I fell upon the very post where I talked about them.
These are easily vegetarian – just omit the chicken mince (derr) – or turned into a pork version by using pork instead of chicken mince (double derr).
Yes, rolling 40 spring rolls is painful but this is where having 100 kids becomes useful. Sure they might not look perfect (there are spring roll perfectionists who insist they must be tighly and very evenly rolled – no hanging over the edges – so they don’t absorb too much oil) but I only shallow fry them and they sure turned out a treat.
When you’re groaning at having to make dinner again make this.
If you’re not already, follow me at Instagram, search the hashtag #everyfuckingnight and you will see a feed of the dinners I am cooking my boys.
This dinner is solely thanks to my dear friend S who knows the best places to have dinner, always checks in on me and is breeding olympians. She’s made this as the kids meal on two occasions we’ve been over for dinner – the second time because they all loved it the first.
It’s a dinner standard in her house and will now be in ours.
Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals spiced chicken with spinach lentils recipe. The first in my new series, The Chef and I.
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
The Chef and I - Jamie Oliver's spiced chicken with bacon & spinach lentils
A delicious health dinner of spiced chicken with lentils, spinach and yoghurt
2 sprigs rosemary
2 x 400g tins of lentils
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
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.