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Chicken Yassa (£1.50)

Yassa is a spicy chicken dish from Senegal, made with onions, spices and seasoning. In spite of the large quantity of onion, it doesn’t taste oniony at all. More complex versions of this recipe exist, adding different spices, vinegar or other ingredients. I deliberately kept mine as simple a possible.

I went a bit over-the top quantity-wise with this, making enough to feed a family of six. For just one or two people, divide the quantities below by three.

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Ingredients (serves six)

  • 6 breast fillets (or equivalent amount of meat).
  • Three onions, red or green, finely chopped or sliced.
  • Juice of three lemons.
  • 1 cup (½-a-mug) of ground-nut (peanut) or olive oil.
  • 1 well-heaped desert spoon of Dijon mustard.
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
  • 1 Habanero chili, seeds removed, finely chopped (optional) – or some suitable alternative like powdered or bottled hot chili.
  • Soy sauce (optional).

WEAR DISPOSABLE GLOVES when de-seeding and fine-chopping the Habanero chili. It is very hot, and might make your fingers sting. Absolutely do not put your fingers anywhere near your eyes, in your ear, up your nose or anywhere else tender while chopping. You’ll soon regret it. Wondering just how hot these raw chilies were, I cut one in half and licked the end. It was like licking the end of a cattle-prod. The finished dish is not particularly hot, just has that extra tang. but if you’re really not a fan of chili, leave it out, and add soy sauce for some extra flavour instead.

chili

Method

Chop the chicken into small chunks or thin slices and put this in a large mixing bowl. To the bowl add the onion, lemon juice, oil, mustard, cayenne pepper and chili, and stir everything together. I also added a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce, although this is not strictly necessary and depends on personal taste.

chopped

This needs to marinate for half-a-day, so best to do the preparation in the evening and leave it in the fridge overnight, ready to cook the next day.

The customary way to cook this is to fry it on a hot plate – a hot frying pan will do just as well – until the onion is well softened and caramelised and the chicken just starting to brown.

cooking

Serve immediately with mashed potato, some yam or sweet potato mash, rice, or anything really. I microwaved a can of red kidney beans (rinse the goo off them first and put in a ceramic dish to microwave) which went very well. It would also go well with the flatbreads from my previous post.

finished

Can be kept in the fridge or even frozen, I suppose, but this is a food best served freshly cooked. Everything considered, come out at about £1.50 a meal.


 

Chicken in a Creamy-mustardy Sauce (95p)

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An important point about the A Girl Called Jack recipe book is that it’s not a gourmet book full of fancy creations. It’s a book about making nutritional food at minimal cost. Some of the recipes do have a touch of genius and are full of flavour, others are more ordinary, although I haven’t found anything that I didn’t like so far. The following lies somewhere in the middle …

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The ingredients I used today:

  • 250 ml chicken stock – can use less if that’s all you’ve got, but no less than 200 ml. (I wouldn’t use stock made from cubes because they ate high in salt, artificial flavourings and palm oil – palm oil production is a major cause of environmental destruction worldwide (although a minority of suppliers manage their crops ethically and sustainably), but unfortunately is in many products you wouldn’t think had it.
  • 1 white onion. (Could also use green beans, peas or any other odd veg lying around.)
  • 1 large carrot.
  • A generous pinch each of dried thyme and parsley.
  • Mustard. I think Dijon on it’s own works best, but use whatever mustard you have around.
  • Several dessert spoons of natural yoghurt.
  • 75 g cooked chicken meat per serving (or more if you are very hungry!).
  • All-purpose seasoning (my favourite is Schwartz ‘Season All’).

I obtained the stock by slow-cooking a chicken, then tipping the contents of the pot into a metal strainer resting on a bowl. When cooled a bit, I transferred the juices to a tall glass and after a few minutes poured off the layer of fat which separated out on top.

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Fine-chopped the onion and soft-fried it. Cooked the carrot (popped it on top of the chicken in the slow-cooker for 20 minutes, but could have just boiled it, of course) and chopped it up a bit. Everything then went into a saucepan and simmered for 20 minutes – the veg, herbs, stock and a couple of generous teaspoons of mustard.

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When it had cooled a little, stirred in yoghurt until it was looking creamy. Could use cream, but yoghurt keeps the calories down. The result was ladled over some broken-up bits of chicken in a bowl.

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With the above quantities there was enough for four servings. Tasted excellent. I actually used English and Dijon mustard in my first batch, but next time I’ll use just use Dijon. Nothing wrong with the English, I just think it goes better with sausages! A sprinkle of all-purpose seasoning on top goes well. With the usual cup of tea and assuming a slice of bread and butter, 95p (not absolutely sure as I played around with the ingredients – somewhere between 85p and £1)..

The cost I originally posted was £1.10 a meal based on three servings, but it proved to serve four. Wasn’t sure how to classify this in the ‘categories’ list, but decided to call it a soup, as that was what the final product reminded me of more than anything else – some home-made croutons (a slice of toast cut into little squares) can be added.

Chicken burgers (95p)

Facebook post 22 Nov 2016:

result

Mash the meat of a slow-cooked whole chicken to the consistency of breadcrumbs. Mix in a soft-fried fine-chopped onion, a mashed boiled carrot and two crushed garlic cloves. Mix everything together with 2 eggs and a teacup of breadcrumbs. Make burger shapes on a floury board and fry in olive oil. Makes 10 burgers. Two between some buttered bread with a bit of salad, and with a cup of tea (and including cost of electricity), about 95p a meal.

I tried them on their own at first, as in the picture, but later decided better as a proper burger.

This was partly inspired by Yota Nikalau (Γιώτα Νικολάου)  of faghta-giagias.blogspot.com.ta_fagita_tis_giagias_17awho says she gained her love of cooking from her grandma, who advised her at a young age to learn the basic rules and skills of cooking, but then to experiment.

We should not be slaves of recipes, the quantities and the scoop, but let our instincts and, above all, our love lead us. In other words, we must be convinced that cooking is an act of love, a gift, a way to share with others the experiences that simmered in the eyes of our kitchen.

An impressive web site which, thanks to Google Translate, I’ve been exploring.

Avgolemono Soup (47p)

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2016-12-16-lemon-chicken-0-flagSecond attempt at this one, and with a more pleasing result.

The Greek name for this is Κοτόσουπα Αυγολέμονο (pronounced something like  “koto-zoopa avro-lemono”), literally translating as ‘chicken-soup egg-lemon’.

  • 250 ml chicken stock
  • 1 egg (but see note at bottom)
  • 25 g rice
  • Half a lemon (plus a thin slice for decoration)
  • Garlic clove
  • ½ an onion, red or white
  • 1 carrot
  • flat teaspoon of all-purpose seasoning*
  • 25 g cooked chicken meat
  • pinch of dried parsley

Made my own chicken stock. After cooking a chicken in the crock-pot (AKA slow cooker), poured off the juices, and after they had settled for a few minutes scooped off the fatty layer that separates out on top – the flavour is all in the lower watery part (typically about 250 ml depending on the size of the original chicken).

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Simmered this for an hour with a grated carrot, half a fine-chopped onion, a crushed garlic clove and some all-purpose seasoning thrown in, plus 250 ml water.

Strained this, discarding the veg, and simmered with 25 g rice for 15 minutes, then poured it into a cold bowl to cool down a bit.

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Meanwhile, whisked an egg with the juice of half a lemon – not to a foam, but with a good bit of air in it (I used a hand-blender) – then added this to the stock once it was cool enough. The trick is not to have the stock too hot, otherwise you end up getting scrambled egg. The end result should have a smooth consistency. Threw in 25 g of chicken meat and reheated it to steaming point in a pan before serving. With a thin slice of lemon and sprinkle of parsley it looks fab.

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And there it was! There are numerous variations of avgolemono on the web, some with stock, others chicken broth, others with lumps of chicken and various vegetables thrown in. Some have the sauce floating on top or whipped to a meringue-like consistency, most (like mine) have it blended in. On this occasion it was a little bit ‘eggy’, so would add less of the egg/lemon mix next time.

As the stock was free (the by-product of cooking a chicken) just needed to add up the cost of the other ingredients and electricity. Came to about 78p. As there was enough for two, with a slice of bread and cup of tea, 46p a serving.

* I currently use an equal mixture of Schwartz ‘Season-All’ and Polish ‘giros’ seasoning, but any ‘all purpose’ or ‘universal’ seasoning will do, or a quarter of a chicken stock cube – but not more than that as it will drown out the subtle flavouring of the dish.

Gyros – Polish layered chicken salad (99p)

Another one from time spent in Poland. (I’m English with a bit of Scottish thrown in, by the way.) This is a good table-filler which I ate with friends on numerous occasions, and I’ve done my best to recreate the dish as I remember it. Gyros is pronounced ‘gee-ross’, with the ‘g’ hard as in ‘goat’.

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Seven layers in my creation. Feel free to adjust quantities according to personal preference or experiment with other ingredients. From bottom to top:

  1. Chicken – 200g of meat, well chopped up. Can brown the chicken in a frying pan with a bit of all-purpose seasoning or stock for a bit of extra flavour. I’ve also made this with pheasant, which was delicious.
  2. Tomatoes – two beef tomatoes with the seeds removed, chopped up small, and with a generous squeeze of ketchup on top if you want.
  3. Red onion – half a red onion chopped up small. Can use white onion, but makes it a bit too oniony for me.
  4. Gherkins – three sliced up.
  5. Petit pois – 150g. Sweetcorn is normally used, but I don’t like sweetcorn. Gently press everything down a bit at this point.
  6. Mayonnaise – 200 ml, well-mixed with a flat teaspoon each of turmeric, coriander, paprika and all-purpose seasoning, dolloped across the peas. (Gyros flavouring can be bought ready-made in small packs from Polish shops.) Best made a few hours before so that the spice flavours can leech properly into the mayo.
  7. Lettuce – half an iceberg lettuce well chopped up. I also sprinkled grated carrot on top for visual appeal.

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I actually find this tastes best after half-a-day, when the various flavours have melded together a bit. Total cost, including electricity cooking the chicken (6 hours in a slow-cooker on ‘low’ overnight), £4.30.

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Makes five servings. With a chunk of buttered bread and the mandatory mug of Earl Grey, a meal for 99p.