Chinese Spiced Roasted Chicken

The last of the chicken thighs. Do not be surprised if you don’t see another chicken thigh on here until Easter, such are my feelings of ennui regarding the thigh at the moment. Another particularly easy recipe, just perfect after a busy day with a bowl of rice and perhaps, if you can face the effort, some stir fried veg. See how this chicken has made me? Too listless to consider chucking some chopped veg in a wok! I must confess, I didn’t have high hopes for this dish – my tolerance for dark chicken meat has waned recently, and there was nothing that sang out at me from the recipe.  But it was beautiful, rich and slightly sweet and, unsually for me, no chilli hit (that’s a  good thing, I think). This is one of those dishes far more than the sum of its parts – kitchen alchemy at work, which is the very best we can hope for. Anyway, you don’t need to use thighs – drumsticks or wings just as good.  To serve 4.

  • 8 chicken pieces, thigh or otherwise
  • 4 tbsp light soy
  • 6 tbsp yellow oil – groundnut is perfect
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Combine all the ingredients apart from the chicken in a bowl. You may find the garlic easier to chop very finely if you chop it along with the salt, as this helps break it down. Put in the chicken and leave to marinate for at least an hour (any more than about three hours, store in the fridge, but remember to get out to bring to room temperature). Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and cook chicken in a roasting tin for 45 minutes to an hour, basting every 20 minutes or so with the marinade. Remember to turn the chicken over around halfway through to make it slightly crisp all over. Enjoy hot or cold, perfect for picnic workaday lunches.

The ‘OMG, how easy was that?!’ Chinese Style Ducklegs

chinese duck

As well as a ridonkulous amount of food and recipe books in my household (153 at last count. Yes, I am the crazy-lady book hoarder – what of it?), I have what is known, somewhat ominously in our house as ‘the folder’. The folder is a stuffed foolscap file full of cut outs from papers and magazines, hand written recipes, lists (lots of lists), recipe cards from supermarkets and stolen liberated sample menus. Every now and then I get the folder out, in search of inspiration. After all, if I liked the look of  it enough to cut it out, write it down, or liberate it, I should like it enough to make it. It doesn’t always work like that of course and I might just settle for cooking some pasta and heating through some pesto. But every now and then I take a deep breath and try something out. And tonight, I had some duck legs hanging about in the freezer, so this was what I did. Serves 2, but completely easily doubled (or trebled, but boy would you need a big pot)

  • two duck legs, defrosted if frozen
  • 500 ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped (remove the seeds if you’re not into heat – its really the flavour you’re after)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 25ml rice vinegar (or cider vinegar, or white wine vinegar. Either will  do at an absolute push)
  • 35 ml soy sauce
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tbsp five spice powder
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp runny hunny
  • 10g cornflour, mixed with 50 ml water

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6. First, get a large frying pan and put it on the heat. When it’s hot, put the duck legs on it and brown them all over. Put the browned duck into a casserole dish. In the remaining duck fat, this time over a medium- low heat, put in the ginger, garlic and chilli and fry for a few minutes, continuing to move them round in the pan so they don;t stick and burn. Add these to the duck legs in the casserole dish.

Combine all of the rest of the ingredients, except the cornflour in a saucepan. Stirring, bring to simmering point and then pour it over the ducklegs in the casserole dish and put it in the oven. Cook for an hour. After this, remove the duck from the sauce and leave it in a warm place (the turned off oven with the door open is ideal). Add the cornflour and water mixture and slowly over a low heat, bring back up to simmering point again, stirring until thickened. This would suit serving on a bed of rice, but I had some stir-fried purple sprouting broccoli instead. My only disappointment is that simmering in the sauce makes the duck skin lose its crispiness, but the tender tasty meat more than compensated.