ME and Ophelia

Tuesday, December 16, 2003


Plus Delia Smith recipes for turkey leftovers

I've deliberately added the word 'crunchy' because I believe properly cooked roast potatoes are a rare delicacy, and it is crunchiness that is so often missing. The first essential ingredient is a cast-iron gratin dish, or failing that, a good, solid roasting tin with a really sound base - the cheap, tinny ones that buckle in a hot oven are useless. For the sake of flavour the best sort of fat to use is the same as the meat with which the potatoes will be served (i.e. lamb, lard for pork), and if you're roasting the joint in the oven you can probably spoon off enough fat from that for the potatoes; the best alternative to these is pure lard.

Because the fat for roasting needs to be really hot, it is not a good idea to roast the potatoes around the meat (besides, if you have a large family, there simply won't be room). The oven temperature should be gas mark 7, 425F (220C). If the joint is still roasting, remove it to a lower shelf; if it is cooked, take it out of the oven (a joint will hold the heat for about 40 minutes, in a warm place, and, as I have said elsewhere, is all the better for 'relaxing' before it is carved).

Place the roasting tin to pre-heat with about 2 oz (50g) of fat per pound (450g) of potatoes. Then peel and cut the potatoes into even sizes, pour boiling water over them, add some salt, and simmer for 10 minutes - then drain (reserving the water for gravy). Now put the lid back on the saucepan and shake it vigorously up and down; what this does is roughen the edges of the potatoes and make them floury, giving a crispier surface.

Make sure the fat in the roasting tin is really hot when the potatoes reach it: if it is, the outsides of the potatoes will be immediately sealed; if it isn't, they will stick or become greasy. As you add the potatoes to the tin, the temperature of the fat will come down - so what you do is remove the tin from the oven (closing the door to keep the heat in) and place it over direct heat, medium should be enough to keep the fat sizzling. Then spoon in the potatoes, tilt the pan (holding it with a thick oven glove) and baste each one with a complete covering of hot fat. Now transfer them to the highest shelf of the oven, and roast for 45-55 minutes. Turn them over at half-time.

Note: Roast potatoes don't take kindly to being kept warm, so serve them as soon as possible.
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Creamed turkey or chicken with avocado
(Serves 4 people)

This recipe is a delicious way to use leftover cooked turkey (or chicken) or, if you have to work all day and prepare supper when you get home, it's a quick and easy way to jazz up some ready-cooked poultry from a quality chain store.

1 lb cold cooked turkey or chicken meat (450g), cut into small strips
2 oz butter (50g)
2 oz plain flour (50g)
10 fl oz milk (275 ml)
5 fl oz chicken stock (150 ml) - substitute: use Knorr chicken stock cubes
1 tablespoon dry sherry
some lemon juice
2 ripe avocados
1 oz mild cheese (25g), grated
salt and freshly milled black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400F (200C)

2.5 pint (1.5 litre) ovenproof baking dish.

Begin by melting the butter in a medium sized saucepan, add the flour and blend to a smooth paste. Cook for 2 minutes then gradually stir in the milk, stock and cream and, stirring all the time, bring to simmering point and cook very gently for 2 or 3 minutes. Then remove the pan from the heat and add the chicken pieces, sherry, salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Now halve and quarter the avocados and, having removed the stone and skins, slice the flesh thickly and cover the base of the gratin dish with the slices. Sprinkle over a little lemon juice, spoon the chicken mixture on top and, finally, add the grated cheese. Transfer to the pre-heated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the sides start to bubble. A crisp, green salad is a nice accompaniment.
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Creamy chicken (or turkey) curry

This is good for either left-over chicken or turkey. It has a fairly mild curry flavour but you can 'hot it up' if you like by adding a little more curry powered.

1 lb cooked chicken (450g) cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 large green pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
1 rounded teaspoon Madras curry powder
1 level teaspoon ground ginger
1 level teaspoon turmeric
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 pint chicken stock (570 ml)
2 tablespoons double cream
salt and freshly milled black pepper

In a large flameproof casserole heat up the oil and soften the onion in it for 5 minutes, then add the chopped celery and green pepper and soften these for 5 minutes more. Next add the prepared chicken pieces and toss them around with the other ingredients.

Now stir in the four, curry powder, spices and crushed garlic, and continue to stir to talk up the juices. Next, gradually add the stock, a little at a time, stirring well after each addition. Season with salt and pepper, put a lid on and simmer very gently for 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender. Remove the curry from the heat, stir in the cream and serve with spiced pilau rice (see below) and mango chutney.

Spiced pilau rice
(Serves 4 people)

This fluffy yellow rice, fragrant with spices, is lovely to serve with curries and spiced dishes.

long grain white rice measured up to the 10 fl oz (275 ml) level in a glass measuring jug (basmati for preference)
boiling water measured up to the 20 fl oz (570 ml) level in a glass measuring jug
1 tablespoon groundnut oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 inch whole cinnamon stick (2.5 cm)
three quarter teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
2 cardamom pods, crushed with a pestle and mortar
1 dessertspoon ground turmeric
1 bay leaf

Heat the oil in a thick-based saucepan and soften the onion in it for about 3 minutes. Then stir in the spices, bay leaf and salt and allow a minute or two while the heat draws out their fragrance. Next stir in the measured rice, and when it's well coated with oil and spices, pour in the boiling water. Stir once, put on a tight-fitting lid, and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until the rice is tender. Tip into a serving dish straightaway, cover with a tea towel for 5 minutes then fluff with a skewer and remove cinnamon and cardamom pods before serving.

Source courtesy Delia Smith's Illustrated Cookery Course book BCA 1994

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 12/16/2003
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