Blood oranges are available in the shops at the moment, and at the time of writing Covid-19 has not caused us to panic buy them. They are delicious eaten on their own as one of our five-a-day or baked in a tart or cake, but why not try using them in savoury recipes too?
In this all-in-one-tin dish, the chicken acquires a delicious crisp, caramelised skin and its juices combine with all the other ingredients to make a wonderfully flavourful supper.
I got the idea from a Sainsbury’s recipe by Sarah Randell, but there were quite a few stages to it and in adapting it for the Aga, I realised the process could be made much simpler.
Chicken, fennel and blood orange traybake
4 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
1 red onion
1 fennel bulb
2 blood oranges
350g Charlotte potatoes (or any waxy type)
2 tbsps olive oil
6 unpeeled garlic cloves
6 small rosemary sprigs
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
2 tbsps clear honey
100ml Madeira or Marsala
Quarter the potatoes lengthways
Peel the onion, halve it and then cut each half into four wedges
Trim the fennel and slice into thin wedges
Place the potatoes, onion, fennel, cinnamon, garlic and rosemary in the small Aga roasting tin, season and toss everything in the olive oil
Season the chicken thighs and tuck them in among everything else in the roasting tin
Mix the juice of one of the oranges with the honey and stir in the Madeira/Marsala
Pour about half of this over everything and slide the tin onto the second set of runners in the roasting oven for 15 minutes
After this time pour over the remaining juice/honey/Madeira mixture and return the tin to the roasting oven for about 25 minutes, but check it after 15
Quarter the other orange and then chop each quarter in half and add these to the roasting tin for the final 10 minutes or so of cooking
If you want to slow things down you can place the tin in the simmering oven once the chicken has a good colour, after about 30 minutes, and leave it there until you’re ready to eat
Meanwhile put the pistachios on the small Aga baking tray and bake in the baking oven for 4-5 minutes until nicely toasted. Leave to cool and then chop roughly. Sprinkle over the finished dish
I served this straight from the tin since it was just the two of us, but you could of course transfer everything to a nice serving dish or platter. Don’t waste any of the delicious juices in the tin and spoon some over each serving. Serve with a green vegetable or salad.
The Country Wives were kind enough to publish this recipe on their website recently.
When cooler temperatures and rain put paid to our barbecue plans on Sunday, I decided to make Navarin of Lamb, a delicious braise which uses a variety of spring vegetables. I didn’t have in my kitchen any of the baby turnips or carrots which are traditional but knew I could make the dish with what I did have, and the recipe below is the result. Use any good veg you can find, with this recipe as a guide.
Navarin of Lamb
600g lamb neck fillet cut into large dice
1 tbsp olive oil and a knob of butter
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
1 celery stick, sliced
1 tbsp tomato purée
I clove garlic, bruised
Sprig or two of thyme
Sprig of rosemary
1 bay leaf
100ml white wine (or red if that’s what you have)
300ml chicken stock
225g baby new potatoes
100g carrots (baby carrots left whole or “old” carrots peeled and cut into thick batons)
150g frozen baby broad beans
150g frozen petits pois
Heat the oil and butter in a shallow, heavy-bottomed casserole on the simmering plate and add the onions, celery and pieces of lamb
Stir to coat everything in the fat and then move the casserole to the floor of the roasting oven for a few minutes to brown the lamb
Return it to the simmering plate and add some seasoning, the tomato purée and wine. Let this bubble for a couple of minutes and then add the garlic, bay leaf, herbs and stock
Bring to the boil, cover and place in the simmering oven for 1½ hours but longer would be fine: in an Aga nothing dries out
About half an hour before you want to eat, place the potatoes and carrots in a saucepan with a little salt, a teaspoon of caster sugar, a knob of butter and 100ml of water. Bring to the boil on the boiling plate, cover and transfer to the simmering oven
Cook the peas, drain and rinse in cold water so they retain their colour
Cook the broad beans, drain and rinse in cold water and slip off the skins
Remove the lamb from the casserole to a plate, discard the garlic, herbs and bay leaf and bring the broth to the boil on the simmering plate to reduce it a little
Return the lamb to the casserole and, having checked they’re tender, add the potatoes and carrots and finally the peas and broad beans
Taste for seasoning, sprinkle with some chopped parsley and serve
I made a few mince pies this week. They’re now in the freezer but I might get them out this weekend as my youngest son is returning home from university and I think he’ll appreciate them. Apart from that and the Christmas cake, I haven’t done a huge amount of Christmas preparation but now that it’s December I will be getting my act together. I have had to postpone my plan to write up some of my Christmas recipes because I don’t have any decent photos to accompany them. I will aim to take lots of photos during this Christmas period so that I can write up the recipes in good time for Christmas 2018.
Meanwhile the Sunday roast continues to happen in our house and last Sunday it was gigot boulangère. If ever there was a dish that lends itself perfectly to Aga cooking, this is the one. If you love lamb and love boulangère potatoes, then this is one for you. On Sunday morning, after a cup of tea in bed with the papers on my iPad, I got up at 8 to prepare this dish. My neighbours may have caught a glimpse of me fetching some rosemary and nearly catching my death in my garden in my dressing gown. In less than an hour though lunch was in the oven, to be more or less ignored until we were ready to eat it at 2pm.
1 leg of lamb weighing about 2.4kg
2 onions, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
100ml white wine
Pound the peeled garlic with 1 tsp salt flakes (I use Maldon sea salt) in a pestle and mortar until you have a rough paste
Add 1 tbsp olive oil and about 1 tbsp chopped rosemary to this
Give it a stir and season
Drizzle some olive oil into the bottom of your large Aga roasting tin, which you have lined with bake-o-glide
Peel and thinly slice the potatoes. At this point many cooks would tell you to use a mandolin, but I don’t possess one so I use a nice sharp knife
Cover the base of the tin with a layer of potatoes followed by the onion slices, chopped rosemary and some seasoning and then the remaining potato slices
Pour over the white wine
Stab the leg of lamb all over with the point of a sharp knife and then rub in the garlic and rosemary paste you made at the start, massaging it into the slits you’ve made
Lay the lamb on top of the potatoes and hang the roasting tin on the third set of runners in the roasting oven and cook for 45 minutes
Transfer to the simmering oven for at least 4 hours but, as always, longer is fine, if not better
To serve, place the lamb on a large dish or board for carving, and the potatoes in a dish with all the juices. I put a bowl of redcurrant jelly on the table. Some mint sauce would have been nice too
Pound garlic with salt and add chopped rosemary, olive oil and pepper to make a rough paste
Layer slide potatoes with sliced onions, chopped rosemary and seasoning
Rub the paste into the lamb and place it on top of the potatoes
The cooked boulangère potatoes
Conventional cooking: pre-heat the oven to 200ºC and cook the potatoes for about an hour before placing the lamb on top and roasting it for about 15 minutes per 500g depending on how you like it done.
There were only three of us for lunch on Sunday so I asked my butcher, Ruby and White, to give me just half a leg of lamb, as you will see in the above photos. I halved the quantities of the other ingredients and used the small Aga roasting tin.