Autumn 2021
It's Raining Leaves!
Rained Leaves

Hallowe'en Pumpkins
Autumn has arrived abruptly. I went from running my blessed air conditioner to putting on extra jumpers almost, it seems, overnight. Just in time for the fuel and gas shortages.
I feel a bleak midwinter coming.

I made a flying visit to Edinburgh to visit Flora, get some decent food courtesy of another fine dinner at Martin Wishart's Thanks Martin! and fit in a day's nostalgic sailing on Yacht Erin.

Edinburgh was strangely subdued for festival week having been terrified into submission by Scotland's First Minister - a horror film hybrid of an authoritarian Angela Merkel and bumbling Janette Krankie.
Quite a nice change to be able to get a seat in the pubs and bars if I'm honest. Not so easy to get a table at any up-market restaurant though where, one supposes, the lockdown-rich and isolated are now spending all their time and money. Or, it turns out, a berth on a boat loaded with risk-averse COVID hysterics who, despite being thoroughly vaccinated, are irrationally terrified of anyone who isn't.

Flora was game though, so we had fun anyway. I introduced her to the BBC's Ghosts and she cooked an excellent steak dinner for me and her friend Mini-Flora.
Flora's Dad(RIP) was a master of understated, unfussy but expert home cooking and his fillet steak dinners were a staple.
Flora did him proud, with a little help from my creamy chanterelles and nutty brown cavolo nero.

Hallowe'en Stuffed Peppers
main meat
I fancied the idea of a novelty Hallowe'en dinner for the young Philistine, and so I riffed on Chef John's recipe for pepper Jack-O'-Lanterns.
I didn't have orange peppers, so I substituted yellow ones. I don't remember the pepper stuffing I used, probably some leftovers, nor do I now remember which of my many tomato sauce options I made - just be sure to make it good and blood red.

I thought they looked rather fine. The ingrate was not impressed.

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 400 °F (200 °C). Oil a baking dish with olive oil.

Use a small knife to cut eyes, nose, and mouth into the flattest side of each pepper, just like a jack-o'-lantern. Cut around the seedpods and remove the tops, trimming and discarding any seeds from under the stems. Trim the white membrane from the inside of each pepper and shake out any seeds. Place in the prepared baking dish.

Mix together ground beef, salt, pepper, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, green onions, melted butter, ketchup, Cheddar cheese, and rice in a bowl until well combined.

Stuff mixture evenly into peppers and cover with the pepper tops. Wrap the baking dish loosely with foil and place on a sheet pan.

Bake in the upper center of the preheated oven for 1 hour. Remove the foil and continue baking until peppers are tender and ground beef is cooked through, 10 to 15 more minutes.

Place stuffed peppers on a few tablespoons of warm tomato sauce. Serve immediately with more sauce on the side.
If you like to poison your nephew with healthy vegetables, then add some plain boiled broccoli to act as greenery for the pumpkin head to hide in.

Roast Green Garlic
veg vegan side
Green or spring garlic are young garlic plants that the farmers cut in spring to thin their crop and encourage the remaining plants to grow full bulbs.
They look like giant scallions except that the leaves are flat like leeks, rather than tubular.
Depending on how late they are cut, they will have little or no bulb, but if you're going to roast them a decent bulb is a bonus.

They're also not the same as garlic scapes, which are the round curly flowering stalks of the mature garlic which grow at the end of the season.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/200°F/Gas Mark 6.
Clean and remove the papery outer layers of the green garlic, cut away the tough stalk and the bottom of the bulb's root.
Slice the larger stalks in half lengthways and lay them all out in a small casserole dish. Season generously with salt and pepper and a good drizzle of olive oil.
Cover with foil and roast for 30 minutes, then remove the foil, spoon the juices over, and continue roasting until nicely golden - about another 30 minutes.
Shake occasionally to keep the stalks coated with oil. And don't let them burn.

Roast Turkey Breasts Stuffed with Cream Cheese and Wrapped in Bacon
main fowl meat
Well, actually these were scraggy turkey breast fillets from our Local Fucking Supermarket™.
But I'm sure you could achieve the same results by flattening whole breasts then cutting pockets into them to fill with the cream cheese. Chickens would also work just as well.

The scraggy turkey breasts will release quite a lot of cooking juices while they shrink and shrivel up until they reach the density of fibreboard. So Dinner at the Zoo's idea of adding the roast(ish) potatoes is a good one - you can use them to soak up some of the cheesy turkey gravy. Yum!

Serves 2

Parboil some small potatoes until softened, but not quite cooked. You can leave on the skin.
Pair off breast fillets of approximately the same size and shape, season and generously coat one of them with cream cheese. Join the breast sandwiches together and wrap them in bacon slices.
Put them in a casserole dish, halve or quarter the par-boiled potatoes and add those too. The dish should be filled.
Season, drizzle liberally with olive oil, scatter over some herbs if you like and roast for about an hour until the bacon and the potatoes are taking on some colour and the turkey is cooked through.

Heat a grill, generously scatter the breasts and the potatoes with grated cheese (parmesan works) and grill until golden.
Well, I'm not a great turkey fan myself (can you tell?), but the Philistines liked them.

Easy Pork Crackling
meat side snack
Though I've made better pork crackling before, I've never made it quite so easily. And the crumbly, foamy texture couldn't be beat, though I might say less about the flavour. Or lack of.

I took my skin from a pork loin joint. It might be interesting to see how whole fat slices of belly pork would taste done this way. Would they have a little more savour to them? Perhaps the boiling liquid could also be flavoured to help out?
It might also work pouring boiling water over the scored rind while it's still on the joint to encourage crackling before roasting the whole thing as normal. Just be sure to dry the skin thoroughly before roasting.
More crackly experimenting may be required.

As a control I also roasted a piece of the skin which had not been boiled up. It still came out fairly brittle, and had perhaps slightly more flavour to it, but it was most definitely harder and denser. Can't beat the boiled skin for texture, that's for sure!

Cut the rind away from the pork joint, if that's how you're starting. No need to leave on any more fat than necessary.

Divide into finger-width slices. Bring a pot of well-salted water to the boil and add the skin. Return to the boil and simmer for 1-5 minutes.
Drain, pat down with kitchen roll, then leave to dry thoroughly. You can hang them in a dry room or leave them uncovered in the fridge.

Pour a couple of tablespoons of crushed sea salt onto a plate feel free to add any seasoning you fancy and rub the pork strips into it to coat thoroughly, then lay them out on an oven tray and dress with the remaining salt.
Bake at Gas Mark 6-8 for about 30 minutes until they are beautifully crisp. Keep an eye on them towards the end to make sure they don't burn.
Some of mine burned 🙁
The rest were terrific.

Campbell's Condensed Mushroom and Chicken Sauce
main fowl
A Philistine-friendly chicken sauce.

Serves 2

Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Perhaps 1" cubes.
Fry quickly in half olive oil, half butter until lightly coloured. Stir through the paprika. Scoop out and set aside.
Add more butter and oil to the pan and fry minced ginger until it begins to caramelize, then add the chopped onion and fry until it begins to brown around the edges.
Add the garlic, a few sliced mushrooms might be nice fry briefly then return the chicken, stir around, and add the tin of condensed soup.
Clean the tin with a splash or two of milk, and add to the pan to thin.
Heat everything through thoroughly, season, then serve over rice or noodles.
A tin of processed soup - how could it go wrong?
You might enrich it with cream or crème fraîche I suppose, give it a squeeze of lemon juice or scatter it with chives or parsley, that sort of thing. On the other hand, if all they'd say is ewwww, what's that green stuff?, then why would you bother?

Roast Venison Sausages with Apple and Onion
main meat
So here's the thing - the sausages taste just fine (though you may need to cover the dish with foil if they brown too quickly), but the apple and onion mixture is a bit disappointing. It doesn't cook well enough in the time, and there's no caramelisation at all.

So I'd suggest sweating the apple and onion with a generous knob of butter first to get things going (either in a pan, or ahead of time in the oven).

I also felt the dish would need a bit of lubrication, so I drizzled olive oil over the dish before the honey mustard mixture, but that just made the honey mix slide off the sausages completely. Better I think to whisk some oil into the honey mustard first.

Serves 3

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5.
Cover the bottom of a small casserole dish with the apple and onion slices. Season lightly.
Maybe add a lump of butter and stick the dish in the oven for 15 minutes first to brown them on their own?
Lay the sausages on top. Mix the honey, mustard and cider vinegar together I would also blend in oil and pour evenly over the dish.
Bake for 30-45 minutes until the sausages are browned and cooked through.
Promising, but not brilliant.
Nothing wrong with the sausages though 😉

FREEDOM Sausages, Colcannon Mash, Lager and Onion Gravy
meat main
Well, on our generously Government-provided FREEDOM day I cheapened simplified this Marker Hotel sausage recipe by using a can of Carling instead of McGrath's Red Ale, leftover cooked brussels, cabbage and broccoli instead of the freshly prepared cabbage, and nothing instead of cream.
But I'm sure the result was every bit as good!

Serves 4

Peel the potatoes and place in a pot of cold water, bring to the boil and cook until tender. Strain, put back in the pot and return to the heat to evaporate all the moisture. Mash the potatoes add the cream. Fold in the blanched cabbage and season with salt and pepper.

Place a heavy based frying pan frying pan on a medium heat. Add some olive oil and sauté the onions for five to six minutes until soft with no colour; add the bay leaf, thyme and sausages and fry until the sausages are golden. By which time my onions were starting to colour nicely too. Add the bottle of ale reduce by half, season with salt and lots of cracked black pepper.

Place the pan or decant into a casserole dish in to a pre heated oven at 180 degrees and roast for twenty or thirty minutes.

To serve place a spoon of the colcannon in a large bowl, three sausages on top and spoon over some of the rich onion gravy.
Rather nice. The bitterness from the beer cooks off nicely in a half hour in the oven. By which time the gravy should be rich, dark and thick.
Like Meghan Markle. But with the bitterness cooked off.

Slow Cooker Mississippi Chicken
crockpot fowl main
Aping the (apparently) now famous Mississippi Roast this chicken version uses only ranch dressing and less (or no) butter.
Now, I had turkey breasts not chicken thighs, so I figured they'd need plenty of buttering to counteract their infamous dryness, I had no pepperoncinis, so in went some jalapeños, and the closest I had to powdered ranch dressing was a 35g packet of Schwartz's Chicken,Bacon & Potato Pie mix.
So (⅔ of) that went in too.
Et voilà: A genuine Mississippi chicken turkey crockpot.

Serves 4

Put the chicken in the slow cooker. Sprinkle over the dressing powder and give the chicken a stir around.
Add the peppers, pepper juice and the butter.
Cover and cook on low for 7 hours or high for 4 hours.
Serve whole or shredded.
Seemed popular enough. Bit chavtastic for my taste 😉.
Four pickled jalapeño slices and a tablespoon or two of the juice gave my chicken a bit of warmth without frightening the horses.

Quick Chicken Palak
curry fowl main
A quick recipe for chicken palak. Well, quick relative to certain others.
It's much simplified by adding the spinach raw, which probably does contribute more water than the pre-cooked and pre-squeezed variety, but doesn't significantly detract from this dish.
You can have it ready in an hour if you chop and blend as you cook.

It's also a handy recipe for hiding green peppers from a capsicum-averse young Philistine.

Serves 4

Generously oil a large frying pan and sizzle the whole spices until they release their aroma.
Blend the garlic and the ginger to a paste, adding a little onion and water if necessary, and add to the pan. Fry until it begins to brown in spots.
Blend the remaining onion and cashew nuts, adding a little water if necessary, and add to the pan. Fry until the harsh aroma has cooked off and the oil is separating.
Mix the salt, fenugreek leaves, and powdered spices with a little water to make a paste. Add to the frying pan and fry until the oil separates.
Cut the chicken into bit-sized pieces and add to the pot. Stir frequently over high heat until the chicken is colouring in places. Add the finely diced green pepper and stir through. Add the finely diced tomato and stir through. Add the stock and simmer, gently, until everything is cooked.
Add the chopped spinach and cook until it collapses.
Stir through a swirl of cream or yoghurt and serve scattered with chopped coriander leaves if you like
Pretty simple and pretty good.
It does require a flavourful stock though.

Celery Curry
Celery Poriyal
curry veg side
Celery doesn't seem to appear as an ingredient in Indian cuisine, but there's no reason one can't use it as a (or the) component in a Tamil poriyal (vegetable stir-fry), kootu (vegetable stew - often served at religious festivals) or sambal (spicy/sour lentil/vegetable soup).
As Advika does here.

Serves 8

Rinse and clean the celery stalk well. Chop them into tiny pieces Advika's pieces are not so tiny! and set aside.
Heat oil in a kadai. Once hot, add mustard seeds and let it pop. Then throw in the red chillies, urad dahl and curry leaves.
Sauté for a minute.
Add the onions, little salt and turmeric powder and saute for 5-8 minutes. Finally add the celery and water.
Cook covered for 15 minutes for crunchy poriyal or 20 minutes for softer version.
Add coconut, salt to taste and mix well to combine.
Serve hot with rice, sambar or rasam.
Not entirely convinced about the coconut. A slightly sourer flavour might work better, but it's not bad.

Cavolo Nero with Brown Butter, Lemon and Garlic
side veg
Kales like the Tuscan cavolo nero tend to be rather stringy just cooked straight - hence the whole blanching process.
Smoked garlic works really well here too.
Can you tell we'd just bought a head of smoked garlic?

Serves 2

Remove any of the stalks that are too thick for your taste then cut the kale leaves across into 1cm slices. Drop them into boiling salted water and blanch for 2-3 minutes until they begin to wilt and darken.
Drain and refresh them in cold or iced water, then squeeze them dry as you would for spinach. Slice the wad of leaves again into 1 cm slices (or thinner - as you like) and set aside.

When you're about ready to eat, heat a knob of butter in a frying pan over medium heat and cook it until it begins to brown and smell nutty.
Toss in the thinly sliced garlic and stir quickly until the garlic begins to colour.
Stir through the par-cooked cavolo nero and fry quickly until it is heated through, even a little crispy at the edges, and well coated in the butter.
Squeeze over the lemon juice, shake up the pan and remove from the heat.
Season and serve.
Really good. A little goes a long way too.
For extra richness, feel free to add lemon peel parings to the frying kale, and mix through grated parmesan before adding the lemon juice.

Fillet Steak McPhail
main meat
Simple cooking really does bring out the best in quality ingredients.

So don't bother trying this with any meat bought from your Local Fucking Supermarket™ - get your cuts of tenderloin from a decent butcher and make sure they're reasonably thick. At least an inch, preferably two, and ideally as fat as they are wide.
You know, that's actually too fat. The trouble with such a large hunk of fillet is that by the time the centre is warmed up, the edges will be too crusty. Now well-done crusts are fine, delicious even, for fattier cuts of meat, but the fillet is so lean that it just hardens and dries out completely. The best way to fry this cut is to just lightly colour the ends so that it's moist and juicy all the way through.
Energetically basting all over with the fragrant foamy butter won't do any harm either.

The entire cooking process should only take about 5 minutes, leaving the meat distinctly pink in the middle.
If you prefer your steak crusts a little more caramelised you might wish to mix olive oil with the butter and fry them over a higher heat. But not for any longer.
Or you might not - see below!
While not the tastiest joint of beef the tenderloin is the, er, tenderest. And the leanest. So it needs a good sauce to go with.

Serves One Person per Steak

Pre-heat the oven on low.
Take the fat fillet steaks out of the fridge about an hour before needed, pat them dry if necessary, and place on each of them a couple of rosemary sprigs and garlic clove or two, cut into fat chunks.
Heat a generous knob of butter in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat until it begins to foam, then lay in the steaks still topped with their herbs and garlic.
Season them generously.
Keeping the garlic and herbs on top won't contribute any flavour at this stage, but it's the McPhail way.
At least now you won't forget about them.
Fry for only one or two minutes until they begin to brown slightly and you can see from the edges of the steaks that a colour change is working its way towards the middle, then turn them over, pushing the garlic and rosemary aside in the pan.
After only one or two more minutes when the second side begins to brown and the steaks are almost cooked through (but still nicely pink in the centre), remove them and stash them in the bottom of a low oven while you make the sauce.
Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking the rosemary and garlic for a few minutes until the garlic takes on colour. Remove the larger rosemary stalks or just strain everything out later then add a couple of heaping tablespoons of rowan or redcurrant jelly.
Be generous with the jelly.
Or use actual redcurrants - in which case cook a cup or so of them (and a teaspoonful of brown sugar) until they break down into the sauce and then strain their exhausted bodies out at the end. Keep a few whole ones to add to the finished sauce for the sake of appearances.
Stir around until it foams, then add a cup of red wine.
Bubble and reduce until the sauce thickens slightly.
Season if required. Strain into a warmed jug.
If you want to enrich the sauce, which can be a little thin otherwise, beat in a few lumps of chilled butter or beurre maniè until the sauce becomes smooth and glossy.
Serve the steaks with the red wine sauce.
Most delicious.
Don't forget to add the juices which leak out of the relaxing cooked steaks to the sauce too.

Creamy Chanterelles
I made this without shallots or wine to accompany Flora's steak fillets (can you believe we didn't have wine??).
It worked perfectly well with about 100g chanterelles for 2 people well, me and two girls.

If you wanted to use this as a sauce for pasta or truffled? gnocchi this amount will probably only serve 1 person.

Clean the mushrooms. You can use a pastry brush if they're not too filthy, otherwise just go ahead and quickly rinse then dry them. Don't fret too much about the no-water rule.

Heat a generous knob of butter in a frying pan until it foams. If using shallots, mince them and fry them until they soften and turn translucent.
Slice the smoked garlic thinly and add to the pan. Fry a little, then add the mushrooms, halving or slicing any larger ones lengthways.
Sweat them over a medium-high heat until they lose their moisture and begin to colour.

De-glaze the pan with a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a splash of white wine if you have any!, letting it bubble briefly then add the cream and allow it to cook down slightly and thicken.
Dress with your chopped herb of choice and serve.
Good with Steak McPhail.

Pretty Good Slow Roast Lamb
main meat
My lamb shoulder joint was pretty small (0.8kg) and a bit flappy with a long wing shape - so not an ideal roast.
You could make up your paste from any mixture of herbs and spices. Even hot ones. I based mine on a mixture of three mustards: mild French's and Colman's English pre-made paste and powder. To which I added the cumin powder, herbs, oil and a little honey. The proportions below are approximate, since I didn't really measure them.

I made stock from a beef stockpot 😢, water and apple juice - and the vegetables I added were peeled carrots and unpeeled potatoes, all quartered.

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 8 about 5 hours before dinner time.
Halve the onion and cut each halve into quarters or segments. Halve the whole head of garlic horizontally. Make a little bed in your roasting tin from the alliums.

Mix the paste ingredients, seasoning it well, and smear all over the lamb joint. Place the lamb on your raised onion bed and pour in the stock to come a little way up the sides of the joint without covering it. Cover (with tented foil or a lid) and put in the oven, turning the heat down to Gas Mark 3. Cook for about four hours, adding the root vegetables with a few hours to go.

To finish, uncover and turn the oven up to Gas Mark 5 or 6 so you can roast your potatoes on the top shelf. Smear the lamb joint with butter to give it a nice caramelized finish.

Take it out after 30 or 45 minutes (or if it starts to look like it might burn). Cover and allow to rest for 15-30 minutes before slicing and serving with all that lovely jus.
Rather tasty.
Feel free to make a thicker gravy out of the roasting liquid - either whisk it into a roux or cook it up with cornflour slurry.

Poulterer's Pie
main fowl
See, shepherds have their lamb pies, cottagers have their beef pies, so I thought poulterers should have their fowl pie too. Though Google informs me I'm not the first to think that 🙁 It's like a chicken pot pie, but with a mashed potato topping.
And it's rather good!

You could add mushrooms, peas, carrots, chorizo, celery, soft or blue cheese, or additional herbs to the chicken mixture for a treat. The stock I used was leftover gravy from a mustardy roast lamb which I was surprised to find worked quite well.

Serves 4

Bring the stock to a simmer and slip in the chicken breasts to poach until just cooked through. Allow them to cool if you have the time, cut them into three or four pieces across their grain you can do this before poaching if you prefer, then pull them apart with a pair of forks until well shredded.
I suppose you could bake or fry them if you wanted.
Meanwhile chop the bacon quite small, heat some olive oil in a frying pan and sweat the bacon until it begins to crisp.
You could add chopped carrots, shallots or celery if you liked. Halve the leek(s) lengthwise, slice fairly thinly, wash any that are dirty, and add to the frying pan with a knob of butter. Sweat until they soften and collapse without too much browning.
Mince the garlic and stir through the frying pan for a couple of minutes, then decant everything into a deep casserole dish.
De-glazing with a glass of brandy or white wine might be nice. And you could also fry up some small, or chopped, mushrooms in butter and add them to the casserole too.

Fry the flour in the (equal volume of) butter until it begins to smell biscuity, stir in the mustard I used a mixture of French's and Colman's English, but Dijon would be good, then gradually whisk in the stock and the cream until you have a custardy consistency.
Season well and add to the casserole, giving everything a good stir.

Mince a bunch of parsley until you have about a cup-load you'll want a lot so the mash is quite green with it. Peel, quarter and boil your potatoes until they are easily pierced with a knife, drain, mash with the parsley, plenty of butter and season well. Spread over the chicken mixture in the casserole and gouge the top with fork tines or the edge of a spatula.

Bake at Gas Mark 6 for about 30 minutes until starting to turn golden on top.
The Philistines seemed to like it. So there's that.

Fish Pie
fish main
Like Mum's fish slop but less runny (ideally). And less tomato-ey.

This recipe is something of an amalgam of Caroline Hire, Gordon Ramsay, and Mary Berry

Serves 4

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, turn up the heat and blend in the flour then add the chopped onion, shallot or leeks.
Fry for a few minutes until the flour smells biscuity but is not too browned.
You can de-glaze with Pernod and/or Noilly Prat if you want to kick things up a notch.
Gradually whisk in most of the milk, make sure it's heated through to thicken, then add more milk to reach the desired consistency.
Season and add mustard to taste.
There are quite a few things you could add instead or as well; cream, sour cream, spinach, herbs (like dill, thyme, chives or parsley) lemon juice, chopped hard-boiled eggs (I kid you not!), sweetcorn, peas, gherkins, etc.
Stir in the fish pieces you could include seafood like prawns and scallops and reheat gently, then pour into an oven-proof dish.

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 6.
Peel the potatoes, boil until on the verge of collapse, drain, season and mash with a generous knob of butter, the egg and the cheese. You can mix wholegrain mustard into the topping instead of the sauce if you prefer. Spread over the top of the sauce and fluff up or groove with a fork. It's best to transfer the mash in small spoonfuls as large lumps of it will sink without trace 😉. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the sauce bubbles and the top colours up nicely.
You could alternatively cook from cold, chilled or frozen, in which case cook for longer at a lower temperature.

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake
main fowl
I came across this simple-sounding idea on YouTube and thought I'd give it a whirl.
I was completely unconvinced about the chances of the rice cooking in barely its own volume of water so I soaked it first and cheated a little by adding water ahead of schedule, and using slightly more than suggested.

The verdict - a disproportionate amount of experimenting and write-up later?
Well, the topping is quite good, the chicken perfectly fine, but the casserole itself not so much.
The rice is unsurprisingly a bit on the firm side, but I also hadn't considered that the onion would be somewhat undercooked. I should have minced it 🙄.
The timings are way off too - though I did make a double quantity which would only have slowed things up.
I'd suggest allowing an hour at 200°C.

I didn't have mozzarella so I used a mixture of Austrian smoked processed cheese, mature cheddar and manchego.
Tasted pretty good too!

Serves 2

Pour the rice into the bottom of a casserole dish, slice the onion thinly and spread over the rice.
It would probably have been better to fry the onion first, though it would make the dish a lot less convenient. At the very least mince it finely.
Feel free to add garlic!
I soaked the rice for an hour ahead of time, which may have helped moisten it.
Cut the chicken into chunks and mix well with the seasonings, then lay on top of the rice and onion.
Einfach und Lecker suggest a chicken spice mixture made from:
  • bell pepper (??)
  • mustard
  • garlic powder
  • coriander
  • turmeric
  • fenugreek powder
  • chilli (I used paprika)
  • ginger powder
  • cinnamon
  • cumin
  • ground cloves
  • ground nutmeg
Which is handy if you have a ⅛th teaspoon.
I also added a splash of olive oil to the chicken. Don't forget to season the rice too.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 180°C.
Nope - my double-quantity cooked for 45 minutes before I turned it up to 200°C for another 15 minutes after which it was barely cooked through.
Meanwhile grate the boiled eggs and cheese and mix with the mayonnaise. It took more like 3-4 tablespoons of mayonnaise to moisten the mixture. Take the dish out of the oven and pour in the water around the edges of the chicken. I used stock - about 150ml, and added some of it earlier to the covered dish. Spread the cheese mixture over the hopefully now-cooked chicken and return uncovered to the 180°C oven for another 15 minutes.
Mine was browning nicely after 15 minutes at 200°C - I'd say give it half an hour at 180°C. Oh and it does swell considerably, so bake the casserole dish on a tray.
And there you have it.
I'd use the topping elsewhere though.

So Bad I made it Twice!
Yeah - I had another go at the single quantity Cheesy Bake; this time I fried the onions a little, then pre-cooked them with the rice in about 1½ times its volume of stock. Which improved things slightly (particularly from the raw onion perspective), but the rice was still surprisingly dente despite being also sticky and having a tendency to burn. The actual oven time would still have needed to be upped to an hour, and that was at the higher temperature of 200°C. The topping browned nicely in 15 minutes but this time it was still goopy under the crust. Maybe 30 minutes at the Mark 5 then? So:
  • Pre-fry onions, season, add rice and then an equal quantity of stock or water.
  • Pre-simmer rice until the water is absorbed.
  • Top with the seasoned chicken and bake, covered, at Gas 6/200°C for 30 minutes.
  • Pour in a ½ quantity more stock/water to moisten, spoon in the cheese topping, reduce to Gas 5/190°C, cook uncovered for 30 more minutes.
  • For a barely adequate meal that the Philistines loved! 🙄

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