Back to black









Sometimes fads are a good thing. Especially when they bring something positive. With all the global crisis and the current credit crunch as it is called here in the UK, celebrity chefs have taken to cooking fabulous meals for a fiver or “under a tenner”.  Last Friday, Gordon Ramsay was cooking a superb lasagna as part of a £10 menu that had me drooling all through the programme. Another dish that caught my eye is Jamie Oliver’s chicken with cous cous which he cooks in a local supermarket ad which means I see it about a zillion times a day. Very effective.

Today was the day and I decided to cook it. It couldn’t have been easier and, as it is usual with Jamie, it was very, very tasty. My great re-discovery was the cous cous which had been sitting obscurely in my kitchen cupboard for a while. Due to earlier disasters, I was pretty much put off by it but Jamie finally convinced me to give it another go. I remembered a Nigella recipe where she does not give any quantities, she merely says that you should add just enough stock to the cous cous to barely cover it. I followed Jamie’s measurements (which, incidentally, also happen to just cover the cous cous) and it worked like a charm. But whatever you do, do not be tempted to replace the stock with boiling water or the cous cous would go completely blah.


I also happened to remember a similar recipe for roasted chicken in Nigella’s excellent How to Eat. So, I decided to try that one as well, to compare the two.


Both Jamie and Nigella advocate throwing all the ingredients at the same time as the chicken. Now, I don’t know if they both have smaller chickens, bigger onions or what but every time I have tried to do it my onions have gone back to black, i.e: completely charred.

Cooking for one, I use chicken joints: drumsticks, breasts, etc., which normally take about 40 minutes or so to cook (in my oven).

Therefore, I decided to add whatever vegs I had to add to the pan halfway through cooking when I was about to turn the chicken over (after 20 minutes or so). Result: wonderfully crispy chicken and vegetables about just right!





Nigella’s one-pan chicken – adapted from How to Eat by Nigella Lawson


olive oil

1 kg new potatoes, cut into 1 cm dice (I like to parboil my potatoes before adding them to the roasting pan)

1 ½ kg chicken, cut into 8 pieces

3 red onions, peeled and cut into segments

16 cloves garlic

3 red peppers, seeded and quartered

coarse sea salt

bunch flat leaf parsley


Preheat the oven to 210°C/gas mark 7.

Get two baking trays and pour in some olive oil to coat.

Arrange the pieces of chicken, the potatoes, onions, unpeeled garlic cloves and pepper on them. Then drizzle some more olive oil, sprinkle with the salt and put in the oven for about 45 minutes.

When done chop over the parsley and serve straight from the baking trays.



Roast chicken with cous cous – by Jamie Oliver from a Sainsbury’s recipe card

Serves 4


2 packs Freedom Food endorsed chicken drumsticks

1 red onion

350g cherry tomatoes

1 lemon

1 courgette

500g cous cous

1 chicken stock cube


olive oil

dried mixed herbs

salt and pepper


1.      Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6.

2.      Place all the chicken drumsticks in a large roasting tray and add 1 red onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges, and 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely sliced. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over a pinch of dried mixed herbs. Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss to combine the flavours.

3.      Place in the oven and cook for 35 minutes. Add 1 x 350g pack cherry tomatoes, whole, and cook for another 10 minutes.

4.      Make 1 pint of hot chicken stock using 1 chicken stock cube. Place 500g cous cous in a bowl, then pour over the hot stock, cover with cling film and allow to steam for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, fry 1 courgette, roughly chopped, in a little olive oil for a couple of minutes. Fluff up the cous cous with a fork, season with salt and pepper and grate in some lemon zest. Add the courgette and drizzle with a little olive oil.

5.      Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the chicken, tomatoes and onion and serve with cous cous on the side.




One thought on “Back to black

  1. Playing with fire « Traveling Wilbury’s Weblog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s