The Chef and I – Jamie Oliver’s spiced chicken with bacon & spinach lentils

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 w/ bacon and spinach lentils

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
 
Prep time
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A delicious health dinner of spiced chicken with lentils, spinach and yoghurt
Author:
Ingredients
Lentils
  • 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
Chicken
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Peel your onion and carrot and blitz in a food processor with the rosemary
  2. Put a glug or two of oil in a fry pan with high sides and start sauteing
  3. 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).
  4. 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)
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Cut the chicken up on an angle and place over the top then put the bacon on top of that.
  11. Serve with crusty bread or pitas.

 

link

Hot January nights

Sydney summers are a trigger event for me which I attribute to being born in December 1972. It held the dubious honour of being the hottest month on record as well as host to the hottest Australian day on record. That is, until yesterday. Yesterday the national average temperature was 40.3THOUSAND degrees Celsius. At the moment weather forecasters in Australia are talking about a DOME OF HEAT which is COVERING THE ENTIRE CONTINENT. Just writing that sentence caused me to stop, shake out my hands, take a deep breath and reassure myself I am not going to die. (SHE LIES! DEATH IS IMMINENT)

There are not enough words for me to adequately express my comprehensive dissatisfaction with the concept and reality of summer. The word itself is a fine example of latin, greek, gaelic and chinese derivatives coming together as not one of them could generate a word off their own bat to truly describe a three month period that delivered sweat, chaffing and clothing with inadequate skin coverage. It is unacceptable.

As we approach summerhell Australians have a competition to see which broadcaster or media outlet will use the phrase “tinderbox” first. We have a record of savage bushfires which are remembered decades later with a reverence normally reserved for the horse race, remembrance and invasion day. It was Tasmania’s turn last week with more than 100 houses razed and 100 people still unaccounted for. One death is too many due to a bushfire but Tasmania is not a big state. Such loss is profound.

In the midst of our own Hades Day yesterday I somehow mustered energy to make a proper dinner for the first time in what felt like months. I know it hasn’t been months but it occurred to me that about 80% if the boys’ diet in the last month has been Fruit Loops* and 2-minute noodles. As my mate Jane said, palm oil and sugar, the food stuffs of champions.

I instagramed the shit out of because, quite frankly, that’s what I do and if we’re NOT instagraming the shit out of dinner then did we really have dinner at all?

 

Hot summer nights dinner
Hot summer nights dinner

 

A lovely follower @clareanna01 left  a message on the pic:

Please tell me that you made this and that you will add it to your recipe list on your blog? It’s been a sh*thouse [isn’t that adorable, she did that asterix] couple of weeks down in Tassie and for the first time since last Thurs (when the bushfires started) you’ve made me hungry.

I promised her I’d post the recipes that night and then promptly fell into a codeine induced coma (until I woke up and read from about 1am to 4am because I AM READING AGAIN, thank you Nexus table that I got for my 40th!). Nice work Kim, bring someone traumatised back to the table, make promises and then leave them hungry.

So here we go, a day late but here. A dinner for hot summer nights.

Lime and mint chicken

  • 1kg chicken thighs, cut into strips (depending on how big they are)
  • 1 lime, cut into rough wedges which you then, using your hands, squeeze the juice out of over the chicken and then add the rinds to the bowl
  • couple of garlic cloves you’ve just smashed with the side of a knife so you can lose the skins
  • handful of sprigs of mint you’ve roughly torn up or chopped
  • pinch of salt, couple of turns of the pepper grinder and a few lugs of olive oil
  1. Get your hands in there and smoosh it all together then let it marinate for as long as you’ve got – I gave it a couple of hours in a rare moment of foresight.
  2. Cook on the bbq until done.

Bogan salad

I have no idea if this salad is an Australian invention. It smacks of something that Americans would go giddy over and I really don’t want it to be something this country can claim ownership of. It is NOT in the league of the lamington, the pavlova or the ANZAC biscuit although granted it is just as addictive.

It’s officially called Chang’s Noodle Salad I call it The Bogan Salad because COME ON, the ONLY salad ingredient in this is the wombok cabbage. There are shallots in it as well but let’s face it, that we’re listing that as evidence it is a salad is evidence THIS IS NOT A SALAD. What it is is a vehicle for fried noodles, toasted nuts and a dressing made of a LOT of oil, sugar and some more oil.

Hence, bogan salad.

  • 1/2 wombok cabbages, finely shredded
  • 125g packed slivered almonds, toasted
  • 4 shallots, finely sliced
  • 1 packet Chang’s fried noodles
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2tbsp soy sauce
  • 2tsp sesame oil
  1. Combine the “salad” ingredients in a bowl
  2. Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until the sugar is dissolved. Don’t try to see if you can reduce the sugar amounts or the oil, just embrace it for what it is and don’t make it every day.
  3. Combine and eat until your head falls off.

 

Jamie Oliver’s quick pickled cucumber salad

Now, there’s a cucumber salad in the same vein in both Jamie’s 30-minute and his 15-minute meals books. The 30-minute meal one is better and this is the recipe from that book.

  • 1 telegraph cucumber that you’ve peeled into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
  • a thumb size piece of ginger, about 2cm – although use less depending on your love of ginger
  • 3tbsp olive oil (I don’t bother with this at all anymore)
  • 1tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tsp sesame oil
  • 1 lime
  • fresh coriander
  • fresh red chilli – if you want to
  1. Mix the dressing stuff together – and have a taste – add a bit more soy or lime depending on how it tastes. I tend to hold back on the ginger and then add more if it needs it.
  2. Just before you’re going to sit down to eat, toss the ribbons of cucumber in the dressing and sprinkle with coriander all fancy like.
Check out my buns
Check out my buns

Jamie Oliver’s 15-minute meals coconut buns

OK, I have to fess up. Someone posted a pic of these on Instagram the night before and all of the above was made basically so I could make – and eat – these. Offering up these little puppies shifts a pretty tasty but fairly normal dinner in this house to fancy, fancy, fancy, f-fancy. And look, I know I say these things are a snap and those of you less comfortable in the kitchen roll your eyes and say on the inside, like I’m ever going to make that.

You need to make these. They’re not that coconutty which I found disappointing. I suspect it’s because he uses light coconut milk but I’m really just guessing. Next time I am contemplating putting a few drops of coconut essence in as well. We shall see.

Now, Jamie whips the dough up in a food processor which is just madness. I LOVE my food processor but hate having to wash it up with a passion I normally reserve for Mythbusters. It’s a ridiculous avoidance-inducing hatred because really, it’s not that hard to wash up. I think it’s a shape thing. Let’s file this under #notsane and not mention it again.

 

Basically the dough is a SNAP – very similar to that I use for the spring onion (or shallots) pancakes and you can whip it up by hand in minutes without having to wash up weird food processor bowls and lids with funnels. They’re doughy – you’re going to tear a bit off, whack a bit of chicken on it with a piece of gingery vinergary cucumber and forget that it’s still 38C at 7:30pm.

  • 400ml tin of lite coconut milk
  • 2 tinfuls of SR flour
  • pinch of salt
  1. Combine everything until it comes together and knead it slightly until it’s  smooth. This is not like a bread or pizza dough, I’m talking like a minute or two. In hindsight I probably could have kneaded mine for a minute or two longer but seriously, COCONUT BUNS!
  2. Roll it into a log, cut it into 8 pieces and roll them into balls.
  3. Place each one inside 2 muffin cases then in an Asian steamer – I didn’t have muffin cases so just bunged them in the steamer that I’d lined with baking paper. Worked a charm.
  4. Then steam them for about 7-8 minutes. You’ll know if they’re done by just pulling them apart slightly and seeing if they’re cooked or still doughy.

It actually feels criminal calling that a recipe.

 

So there you have it. The perfect dinner for hot summer nights.

 

ONWARD!

 

 

*only ever purchased in the holidays and this time around conveniently on special. At last count I think we’d gone through eight boxes.

 

Jamie Oliver’s 30-minute meal banoffee pie

OK, so this household is having a complete rejuvenated love affair with Jamie Oliver, the likes it has not seen since his Naked Chef days. I think it was seeing his hard slog in the US and how it knocked the wind out of his sails a bit that did it. It was cemented with his 20 Minute Meal iPhone app. Man I love that. Then there was his Christmas series which was just so quirky and lovely. And now, well now there is his 30 minute meal series (I’m gagging for the book because yeah, I really need another cookbook) and the whole household, well, me and Felix, are hooked.

The other night he made this awesome looking number involving salmon fillets, prawns and asparagus. Salmon fillets normally make me gag but I was all YUM about that. And then, THEN he made a quick banoffee pie.

Cue Felix badgering me for the last two days to go to the shops to buy the ingredients. And can I tell you – if you do use a store-bought pie crust, which we totally broke my religion and did, then this comes together in an absolute snap.

The filling is delightful – far less tooth-achingly sweet than pure pie-caramel and not over-powering in the banana department. An absolute winner.

Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meal Banoffee Pie

  • 1 store bought pie crust
  • 2 bananas
  • 100ml milk
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 300ml cream
  • 1 tbsp camp coffee
  • 2 bananas, extra
  • 100g block of dark chocolate
  1. Blitz the two bananas with the milk until well combined and smooth
  2. In a pan over high heat melt the caster sugar. Don’t stir it, just gently tilt as it melts to a dark caramel colour
  3. Add the banana milk mixture to the toffee, stirring until the toffee melts back into the bananas
  4. Pour into the pie case and freeze for 20 minutes (we didn’t need it to be within 30 minutes so just put it in the fridge)
  5. Whip the cream and then fold through the camp coffee essence so it leaves pretty swirls in the cream
  6. Slice the bananas and arrange over the pie filling, then spoon the cream over the top
  7. Place the chocolate bar on the benchtop, smooth side up. Scrape a sharp chef’s knife on a 45 degree angle across the chocolate towards you, making chocolate curls. Arrange over the top of the cream.
  8. Eat!

Jamie Oliver’s Honey Mustard Dressing

This is Jamie Oliver’s honey mustard and garlic dressing I made last night. I’ve doubled it because I live with a pack.

1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
2 tblsp seeded mustard
2 tblsp honey
4 tblsp lemon juice
10 tblsp olive oil
– mix together