Spiced Chicken with Prunes


Start this the night before by sprinkling 3 chicken breasts (each one cut into 3 pieces) with a chopped up garlic clove, a scant tablespoon of chopped fresh mint and parsley, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon each of dried ginger, ground coriander and cinnamon, half a teaspoon each of turmeric and chilli flakes and the juice of half a lemon.  Put this in the fridge, covered.

At the same time, steep 200g prunes in 2 teaspoons of honey and enough boiling water to cover.  Leave this at room temperature.

The next day, preheat your oven to 180 degrees, then fry 2 sliced onions with 2 crushed cloves of garlic in some olive oil and a little salt.  Use a hob-friendly, ovenproof pan for this.  When the onion is soft, add the chicken breasts to the pan, and turn the heat up to colour.  Add a little more oil if necessary.  Sprinkle with a some nutmeg and black pepper.  Once both sides of the chicken breasts are golden, add a sliced red pepper and a sliced yellow pepper.  Stir well, then add half a pint of chicken stock (from a stock cube is fine).  Bring to the boil, then put a lid on and pop the casserole into a medium oven (180 degrees) for half an hour.

After 30 minutes, add the zest of a lemon and and the prunes.  Put it back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.  After that, stir in some fresh mint, parsley and a couple of handfuls of chopped spinach.  Leave it to sit for a couple of minutes, stir again and check for salt and then serve with couscous or rice and a further sprinkling of zest and parsley.



Duck with Cherries and Prunes

Take 2 fat duck breasts and sprinkle the fatty side with a little cinnamon and sea salt.  Dry fry hot for about 4 – 5 minutes until the fat starts to melt and they are browning nicely, then turn over.  Be really careful at this bit.  I take no responsibility for singed ceilings here.

Pour A LITTLE alcohol into the pan.  And beware.  Wine is normally fine, but I nearly set a gite on fire by using cognac 2 years ago.  All you want is a little alcoholic frazzle, not any actual liquid in the pan, about 3 tablespoons of alcohol should do.

Now put the duck breasts (skin up) in the oven and cook at about 180 degrees for 15 – 30 minutes, depending on their size, and whether you like them pink or not.

Meanwhile, chop about 8 juicy prunes into a small pan with a glass of red wine and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Now, pour in a tablespoon of crème de cassis and a tablespoon of cherry jam and warm through.

Serve with the duck breasts and diced, roast potatoes.



Autumnal Starter to accompany the above:  Sauted Ceps with Toast

Wipe 200g of ceps or chestnut mushrooms and sprinkle over a finely chopped garlic clove.

Set aside, then cut 6 – 8 thick slices of baguette or ciabatta.  Put onto a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil.  Turn over, drizzle again and pop in the oven at 160 degrees for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry the ceps and garlic on high in a big knob of butter.  When they start to brown, shake the pan and add a quarter of a glass of white wine and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.  Frazzle for a few seconds before adding some double cream (about 2 tablesoons).  Let it frazzle for a second or two before piling onto your warm toasts and sprinkling over some black pepper and parsley.

I haven’t yet managed to take any appetising photos of pale food.  Delicious though it looked and tasted, the photos weren’t great.