Whomever thought that prawns and chicken would be a good marriage was a genius. It sure as hell wasn’t a natural concoction since both could kill you stone dead if they weren’t a peak condition or if they didn’t actually kill you they could make you wish it were so.
Since I got the crock pot in January I’m back exploring the ancient tradition of the one pot cooking. I must make something very clear, recipes are only for guidance. In fact unless you want to convert yourself into a slave you are vastly better off reading then find alternatives for three-quarters. The only exception is baking. There, because you aren’t so much cooking as chemistry and so is very unforgiving should you deviate.
There are certain things required in all kitchens, a salt, an acid, a sweet, a hot and an oil. These are the core items. And it doesn’t matter what or where you are cooking these things are what make up the base. I think most would agree with these. It is the next level that may cause problems. To me there are few meals that won’t gain from a twist of black pepper. And near all gain from a coin of ginger. Anchovies are a must. As is Worcestershire sauce. Good tinned tomatoes, life is just too short for peeling and de-seeding at home. There are a few other things that generally fit to cooking the world over.
Next you have the herbs and spice. It’s in this I must say the Irish English Scot and Welsh person is somewhat unlucky. Meah, in a way. We have good quality food that generally keeps for a few days. And in our climate this has been the case always. But what it means is the needful of spice to help prolong the shelf life of meat isn’t here historically. This is true for olive oil also. That, when I was growing up was a pharmacy product, from there it went to the really really expensive shop like Harrods. It wasn’t ’til the last ten years it is widely available.
Yes we had herbs. Mint, horseradish, thyme, rosemary and sage, chives and parsley. Hardly an exhaustive collection. But there is still nothing like a chicken roast with stuffing made with sage thyme and hazelnuts. Unless it is a rib roast done slowly so it’s cooked to a point then served with horseradish. So we weren’t bereft by any means. But still, but still. There was nothing like the first encounter with Indian food. Chinese food that’s made for Chinese people is good too. Not so much the concoction imported to the west. Spanish food along with Portuguese if you avoid their fixation with pig is brilliant too. In a way with both of them what you are getting is an earlier import from India via Goa. Malay via Malacca, and the spice islands, and China via Macau.
two chicken breasts per person or whatever part of the bird suits. Thighs are tasty and cheap.
Fry off on the hob.
Then chop two medium courgettes and an aubergine, mushrooms and a pint of shelled prawns.
Two tins of peeled tomatoes, chopped.
Then three anchovies and two chopped medium chilli peppers.
Squeeze half a lemon over all.
fill with water or stock about an inch below the level of the veg
Cook all for one hour. Then remove from oven.
By this time everything should have shrunk into an almost mush. Any bones removed then for you are now making space for a top up with about a pint or more of water. Once this water is in, up-end a cupful of washed brown rice, soaked over night. Brown for you want it to stay integral and not disintegrate. And I see no reason paprika cannot be switched for turmeric. Red yellow whatever. And really how much yellow will you get with the tomatoes anyway. Now, you need to be very careful with the salt. You are better to salt the pot initially with about a teaspoon worth. This for the veg and the meat. Now the rice will suck every bit of salt and liquid into itself. You can go one of two ways. Either salt on the table or buy two pints of fresh unshelled langoustines (big prawns)and place or scatter over the surface and cover with a lid to steam.
Now you can buy a paella cooker. And if I ever win the big lotto, if I ever do the big lotto, it’s on the list. But until then a big pot will do the job. I must issue a warning about this dish though. If you haven’t a family that can tuck into it at one sitting you should freeze it once cool. You see it’s a dish that requires volume to fix itself into a burst of flavours. You are dealing with the better part of a gallon.