Sunday, September 6, 2009

Roast Chicken with Potatoes & Cherry Tomatoes

This might actually be a Jamie Oliver recipe, but seeing as it was my friend Ewan who cooked it for me first, i will give him the credit! And what a wonderful dish it is. The best part being that you throw it all in one baking tray and serve it in the same, allowing everyone to help themselves at the table.

6 free range chicken marylands
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
700g chat potatoes, skin on
8 sprigs rosemary
8 sprigs thyme
Olive oil
Sea salt & ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

In a mortar and pestle, crush half the rosemary and thyme along with some sea salt and pepper, then add a few tablespoons of olive oil to form a marinade. Rub all over the chicken, and leave it to soak up the flavours for a few minutes.

While this is happening, put your potatoes in a large saucepan of cold water, season with sea salt then bring to the boil and cook until tender. Prick the skins of the tomatoes, and drop them into the boiling water with the potatoes for about 30 seconds until the skins begin to peel back, then remove and plunge into cold water to stop them cooking. Drain the potatoes.

Heat a large frypan with a little olive oil, then fry the chicken, skin side down until it begins to colour up. Turn and seal on the other side, then transfer to a large roasting tray.

Remove the skins from the tomatoes, then scatter around the chicken in the baking tray. Add the cooked potatoes, crushing each one slightly with a fork. Season generously with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the remaining fresh rosemary leaves, and sprigs of thyme.

Roast for approximately 1 hour, until the chicken is tender and golden and the potatoes have crisped. Then simply place on the table and let everyone dig in!

Serves 6.

Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells

As you may or may not know I was once a long term vegetarian, and even though my days of meat deprivation are since long gone, there are a few staple recipes that I still love more than any meat dish - this being one of them! Something about cheesy baked pasta dishes seems to delight even the most dedicated carnivore. Be certain to make an ample amount - I have never had anyone turn down a second helping!

300g conchiglioni (large pasta shells)
500g fresh ricotta

1 bunch silverbeet or spinach, rinsed & stalks removed
1 cup (packed) grated parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, crushed

700g tomato puree

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried parsley

Olive oil

Sea salt & ground pepper

This is a relatively simple recipe, though you will need to dirty up a few pots and get everything going at once when you start... Firstly, preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

Next, bring a large pot of water to the boil, and cook the pasta shells until tender. Whilst your shells are bubbling away, place your rinsed spinach in a steamer or boiling water and cook until just softened and bright green.

In a mixing bowl, combine the fresh ricotta with 1/2 the parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Then, drain your cooked spinach, squeeze in a clean tea towel to remove any excess water (be careful not to burn yourself in the process!), chop finely and then add to the ricotta mix, stirring well to combine.

Grab a saucepan and heat some olive oil and fry off the garlic until fragrant. Pour in the tomato puree, and sprinkle in the dried herbs, along with salt and pepper to taste. Allow this to simmer for 5 minutes, then pour into a large baking dish.

Once your pasta shells are drained and cool enough to handle, simply fill each with a spoonful of the spinach and ricotta mix, and place in the baking dish with the tomato sauce. Repeat until you run out of ricotta, then sprinkle the whole lot with the remaining parmesan.

Bake the shells until the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden brown and crisp. Serve with a simple garden salad and of course, a loaf of garlic bread.

Serves 6.