The In-laws came over for Sunday lunch today and the weather was nice so its Roast with a difference.
Haitian roast chicken with two stuffings served with squash rice. This is based on a receipe by Levi Roots from his Caribbean Food Made Easy. To start with this is accompanied by ‘Backlash’ from Bad English, the band formed by John Waite (The Babys), Neal Schon (Journey), Jonathan Cain (The Babys, Journey), Rickey Philips (The Babys) and Deen Castronovo (Journey).
For the roast chicken and gravy
2 tsp cayenne pepper
350ml/12fl oz chicken stock
4 tbsp rum
For the bread stuffing
½ onion, finely chopped
2 spring onions, trimmed, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
large pinch freshly grated nutmeg
3 slices white bread, crusts removed, made into breadcrumbs
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1 lime, zest and juice
2 tbsp rum
2 tsp soft light brown or demerara sugar
For the tomato and banana stuffing
1 banana, peeled and sliced
2 ripe plum tomatoes, cut into quarters
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the squash rice
550ml/1 pint cold water, vegatable or chicken stock
400g/14oz pumpkin flesh, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
450g/1lb basmati rice, rinsed and drained
1. Gently ease the skin around the neck and breast of the chicken away from the meat using your fingers, reaching as far down the legs as possible. Set aside.
2. For the bread stuffing, heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.
3. Add the spring onions and garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, or until softened.
4. Add the nutmeg and breadcrumbs and continue to fry until the breadcrumbs are crisp and golden-brown.
5. Drink the Rum, then get some more Rum and it and the thyme leaves, lime zest and juice and sugar and stir well until combined. When the ingredients have warmed through and the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
6. When the bread stuffing mixture is cool enough to handle, push small handfuls of it under the loosened skin of the chicken, until all of the bread stuffing mixture has been used up. Tuck any loose neck skin into the cavity of the bird. Set aside.
Around here you will probably need to change the music. I went for ‘Chinese Democracy’ from Guns ‘N’ Roses. A controversial record but one I like, although it would have been better released as a solo album and not a Guns one.
7. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
8. Meanwhile, for the tomato and banana stuffing, melt the butter in a separate frying pan over a medium heat. Add the banana and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until tender.
9. Add the tomatoes and continue to fry for 4-5 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to break down and the sauce has thickened. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
10. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the tomato and plantain stuffing.
11. For the roast chicken, smear the butter over the skin of the stuffed chicken and sprinkle over the cayenne pepper. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
12. Place the chicken into a large roasting tin, then transfer to the oven and roast for 1½-1¾ hours, or until the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the chicken where the thigh meets the body. If this hurts you have put the skewer into your own thigh. Get clean one and try again, this time on the chicken.
13. Meanwhile, for the squash rice, bring the water, squash, two sprigs of thyme and salt to the boil in a large, covered pan, then reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
14. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs, then mash the squash and cooking liquid together using a potato masher, until the pumpkin breaks down. (NB: The mixture does not have to be mashed until smooth.)
15. Add the rice to the pan with the squash mixture in it and stir. The liquid should cover the rice by 2-2½cm/1-1¼in, so add more water as necessary.
16. Add the butter and stir until melted, then cover the pan with the lid and return the mixture to the boil. When the mixture is boiling, immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer on a low heat for 18-20 minutes, without removing the lid, until the bottom of the rice has browned slightly and all of the rice is tender.
17. When the rice is cooked, add the remaining sprig of thyme, then turn off the heat and leave the pan on the residual heat for a further 3-4 minutes.
18. When the chicken has cooked through, transfer it to a warm plate and cover with aluminium foil.
By now it was getting close to the In-laws arriving so I decided the music should be more subtle than Axel and his dubious language and what is more subtle than AC/DC and ‘Black Ice’
19. For the gravy, add a little flour andthe chicken stock to the juices that collected in the roasting tray and bring to the boil, scraping up any browned bits up from the bottom of the tray using a wooden spoon. Simmer the gravy until it has thickened, then sieve, reserving the liquid. Add water or flour as needed to get the consistancy you like and a few drops of dark soya sauce for colouring.
19. Drink the Rum, then get some more Rum and heat it in a frying pan over a high heat, then remove from the heat and set alight using a match. Allow the flames to flare up, then die down. (NB: keep flammable objects away from the flame.) Don’t drink this Rum, it is hot and will hurt (you also burned all the alcohol off anyway). Pour the rum over the roast chicken.
20. To serve, carve the roast chicken and divide it among six serving plates. Place a portion of the tomato and banana stuffing on top of each serving. Spoon the squash rice alongside. Drizzle over the gravy.
For pudding I did another couple of Levi’s receipes, Hot Hot Bananas:
3 tbsp soft light brown sugar
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp finely grated nutmeg
6 medium-sized bananas, skins on
20g/¾oz butter, cut into 12 thin slices
1 large lime, juice only
Vanilla ice cream, to serve
1. Light the barbecue half an hour before you begin cooking.
2. In a bowl, mix together the brown sugar, ground ginger and grated nutmeg until well combined.
By now the guests had arrived so time to soften the music, so to one of my favourite bands Marillion and ‘This Strange Engine’
3. Make a deep incision lengthways down the curved side of each banana, from stalk to base. Gently open the bananas up and sprinkle the sugar and spice mixture underneath the skin of each banana.
4. Place two slices of butter into the incisions made in each banana, then squeeze in the lime juice.
5. Close the skin around the bananas and wrap them in aluminium foil.
6. When the flames from the barbecue have died down and the coals are ash-white, place the foil-wrapped bananas onto the grill and cook for 10-12 minutes, turning them occasionally with tongs, or until the bananas are soft when squeezed with the tongs. Remove the foil-wrapped bananas from the heat and set aside to cool slightly on serving plates.
7. When the foil is cool enough to handle, open the banana parcels and discard the foil. Serve the bananas with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
While the bbq is hot, quarter some oranges and cover the flesh with sugar. Then pop them on the bbq for a few minutes. Serve with the banana.
Everyone enjoyed it which I was pleased with as there were some unusual flavour combinations going on.
Today’s blog has brought to you by the letter J and ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’ by Genesis.