Comfort Food. Chicken with sage, white wine & cream sauce.

It has not been the weekend I was expecting. I got in at 4am on Saturday morning after a long night of curry and carousing, to find Mr Greedy puffy and hot, coughing in his sleep with red swollen eye sockets. Because I was quite drunk and very tired I simply collapsed into bed and allowed him to deal with Greedyboy when he woke up at 5.30. Yes, I am that considerate. But you can’t look after a kid when you’re still drunk and looking after a kid whilst you’re just ill is perfectly possible. Trufax. I know this because I have had to do it on countless occasions. All the same, poor Mr Greedy.

As a result of this, neither were up to doing much the next day, and neither of us really wanted the birthday dinner that we had booked for the same evening, although I do think, to Mr Greedy’s eternal credit, he still would have taken me had I really wanted to go. No; dinner called for comfort, soothing and demanded to be eaten on the sofa, watching ‘Men Who Stare At Goats’,  followed by a very early night. I feel I was taking a bit of a risk, making a rich sauce to go with the chicken, given our tender states, but it worked well.

To serve 2:

  • 4 chicken thighs, skin on
  • olive oil
  • 4 large sage leaves
  • small glass white wine
  • small pot of double cream
  • salt and pepper

In a heavy based pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame and put in the chicken thighs, skin side down. Put the sage leaves on top top the chicken pieces. Leave the chicken where it is for at least 5 minutes, until the skin has had a chance to brown and crispen – if you start moving it around before this point, not only will the skin tear and stick, but it is unlikely to brown properly, leaving you with limp greasy skin, and that will not do at all. When you are satisfied the skin is browned and crispy, you turn the chicken pieces over in the pan, the sage leaves should fall to the bottom, and put the lid on. Turn down the heat a smidge and cook the chicken for 10-15 minutes, until the bottom of the chicken is brown, and when pierced with a knife the juices run clear. If your thighs are big and meaty, bank on at least 20.

Remove the chicken to a warm plate or serving dish and drain off the majority of the fat that will be left in the pan, reserving the sage leaves. Pour in your wine and deglaze the pan with it, scraping up all the chickeny bits with it and let it bubble away for a couple of minutes until it begins to reduce. Now pour in your cream, and stir well. The cream will reduce quickly, so do keep an eye on it. Season with salt and pepper, and when you have a nice thick sauce, put your chicken back in and heat it back through with the sauce for a moment or two. And serve, with a green veg and whatever carb you’ve got to hand.

Pork with Cheese, Sage & Apple

applesI try not to plan ahead too often what I’m going to have on a Wednesday night. I’m lucky enough to work five minutes away from a weekly farmer’s market, and although I usually can’t get there until its on the brink of closing for the day due to the hours I work, I usually manage to pick up some special stuff.  Today there were lots of apples around, and some pretty delicious free range pork. I wish I could shop for more meals there, but I just can’t get too much stuff home by myself.

Some flavour marriages, are made in heaven. This menage a quatre, likewise. Everything goes with everything else here in a lovely crunch, melt in the mouth kind of way. I noticed tonight, that I’ve been making a lot of things with breadcrumbs lately, so perhaps its rather lucky that my food processor broke down tonight while I was making them. In truth though, this isn’t horribly unhealthy. Cut the fat off the pork and be sure to leave the apple and the cooked pork to rest on a piece of kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil. Serve with a salad. Serves 2 Greedies.

pork with sage

  • 2 large pork chops or pork steaks. Free range, please.
  • 1 large free range egg, beaten
  • 50g gruyere cheese, grated finely (you could use parmesan, alternatively)
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 4 sage leaves, very finely chopped
  • oil, preferably groundnut, for frying
  • butter
  • 1 apple, sliced into 1cm slices, core removed
  • salt and pepper

Firstly, get a rolling pin or, if you have one, a meat tenderiser and flatten out the pork chops until they’re no more than about a centimetre thick. go careful because you want them as even as you can and no holes, so while its great to be firm, don’t go mad. Mix the sage leaves, salt and pepper and breadcrumbs on one large plate, pour the beaten egg onto another and on a third, evenly scatter your grated cheese. Then, one at a time, press each side of your pork firmly into the cheese, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs in that order. Leave aside to dry out for up to a couple of hours.

Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan and, over a medium-low heat cook the pork chops. This will take 15 or so minutes. Meanwhile, add a little more oil and butter to a smaller pan and put in your apple slices. Cook these over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until they are brown and softer, but not falling apart. Serve as described with a lemony dressing with your salad.

Sweet Potato Bake

Sweeeeeet Potato.

I originally thought I would make this dish spicier, to go with some Jerk Chicken I was going to make, with some chilli and thyme replacing the sage and coconut milk in place of the cream. But I never did get round to buying the chicken even, so I just made it as I first discovered it. Tonight I had it with a roasted duck leg and just some peas but I think it would go nicely with most meats,  pork especially.

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To serve 2 or 3 as a side dish:

  • 750g Sweet Potatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsps finely chopped sage
  • 150g Double Cream
  • Lots and lots of salt and pepper

Peel your sweet potatoes. Slice them with a sharp knife about the width of a pound coin – try and be consistent with that, it doesn’t matter so much if they’re a bit thicker – whats more important is that they’re all about the same width. If you have a mandolin or a slicing attachment on a food processor, well, you know what to do. Place them in a bowl with the garlic, sage, salt and pepper and mix as thoroughly as possible with your hands. Put them in an ovenproof dish (Doesn’t matter how really. Neat concentric rings,or chucked in, tastes the same). Cover with foil and place in a preheated oven – gas mark 6 – for about 40-50 minutes. After this time, they should be cooked through. By this I mean offering no resistance to the fork you stab into them. If they seem harder than that, re-cover and put back in the oven. When they’re cooked through, pour your pot of cream over the sweet potatoes and put back in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye out for burning, as the sugar in the potatoes caramelises fairly easily. Scoff.