Sunday Territorian 24 Aug 2014
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Nationwide News Pty. Limited
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Nationwide News Pty. Limited
30 FOOD SUNDAY AUGUST 24 2014 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 CHICKEN THIGH BAKES Chicken thighs are cheap and oh, so easy to cook in the oven. It can be as simple as throwing eight chook thighs into a baking pan with some flavourings, some complementary ingredients and a little liquid or oil to keep everything moist. Think about baking everything in a preheated 180C oven for about 45 minutes or until the chook is golden-skinned and cooked through. A good way to start is to toss cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves, thin wedges of red onion, capers, and chicken thighs in olive oil and roast them all together. Or perhaps go all Spanish. Add small potatoes, sliced chorizo and red capsicum, green olives, bay leaves, and a cup of sweet sherry into an oiled baking dish with the chicken thighs. The sherry will boil away leaving a deliciously sticky pan of meaty goodness. Another even simpler chicken thigh bake of Spanish extraction from Sam and Sam Clarks wonderful Moro cookbooks is to brown the chicken and throw it into the oven with a handful of bay leaves, a decent glug of sherry, the cloves from a head of garlic and a splash of chicken stock. As with all these ideas, dont forget to season before serving. The great thigh bake of the seventies was the rather maligned apricot chicken that pairs a packet of French onion soup mix with apricot nectar with chicken thighs and dried or fresh apricots. Id rather bring it up to date by throwing in the thighs with white wine, dried apricots, caper berries, bay leaves and branches of thyme. Serve this with pumpkin that youve roasted in the same oven, tossed in cinnamon. Finish with toasted slivered almonds, a dollop of yoghurt and some finely chopped mint or parsley. Donna Hay is the acknowledged master of these sorts of dishes so check out her recipes online or at the library. For something juicier try blitzing canned tomatoes with a couple of garlic cloves and a good splash of chicken stock. Pour into a casserole and load up with strips of red and yellow capsicum and the chicken thighs which youve tossed and browned in olive oil. Bake until reduced, a little crusty and the thighs are cooked through. Of course, the difference between this being a bake rather than a chicken thigh braise, casserole or stew is in the quantity of wet ingredients. CHICKEN THIGH CASSEROLES AND BRAISES The casserole is the juicier and slurpier version of the braise or bake. The principle is similar but with more liquid added. The best way to make chicken thigh casseroles is to flour and brown the thighs in a heavy pot with a good splash of oil. Remove and then throw in the hard veg like onions, celery or carrots or porky stuff that might form the foundations of the sauce. When these have softened and browned a little, throw in garlic if you are using it and then deglaze the pan with either a little vinegar, verjuice, or booze like sherry, white wine or cider. Now throw the chook plus any liquid (stock, tinned tomatoes or wine) into the pot and finish on the top of the stove or in the oven. Think of trying the following flavour combinations. Leek, bacon, garlic, Dijon mustard and white wine flavoured with a branch of thyme or tarragon and finished with cream will give you a rich and classic Frenchtasting casserole. For something more peasant try the classic Normandy combination of onions, bacon, cider and chook cooked together. Remove the chook when its cooked and finish the sauce with double cream and some French mustard. Return the chook when the sauce has thickened and serve topped with wedges of butter-browned apples. Chicken thighs are also eminently suitable for the classic Italian hunters stew of cacciatore. An onion-based sofritto, garlic, white wine, a couple of tins of tomatoes and, for me, black or green olives are the essence of this dish. Add some oomph with a little cubed salami and some chopped herbs like rosemary or parsley. Youll find a couple of great recipes on www.taste.com.au. If you want to play on the Greek side of town, dump the salami and rosemary and add lemon juice and a good crumbling of feta over the top of the finished casserole at the end of cooking so it becomes a sort of cheats chicken thigh saganaki. A sprinkling of fresh oregano, marjoram or parsley is a nice finishing touch. These saucy casseroles are perfect with so many different carbs from pastas, couscous, and all manner of mashes to grains such as rice, freekah or barley, burghul, or a small pasta like risoni. You can always save on the washing up by throwing in the carbs to cook in the casserole, but the danger is that while this is tasty, it can make things rather porridgey due to the thickening starches released into the gravy during cooking. CHICKEN THIGH SCHNITZEL Chook thighs also make fine schnitzels. You can beat out the thighs, turn them into traditional schnitzels and pan fry them, but I like the following no-fry way better. Beat each thigh out between two sheets of greaseproof paper so they are all of equal thickness. Coat by dunking first in melted butter and then in Japanese panko breadcrumbs. Bake in a 180C oven on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper until golden and cooked through. Serve with coleslaw dressed with a creamy mayo spiked with a little English mustard or with a simple salad of thinly sliced radicchio dressed with no more than lemon juice. MATT PRESTON CHEAP ANDTASTY C O L U M N Chicken thighs are a cheap ingredient that can be used to make many simple, but delicious meals FOLLOW ME. @mattscravat Try this on for thighs The Italian classic chicken cacciatore is easy to make, and (below) the thighs also make great schnitzels. You can beat out the thighs, turn them into traditional schnitzels and pan fry them, but I like the no-fry way better Taste www.taste.com.au by MATT PRESTON
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