chicken & rice tray bake

This is my idea of a simple, delicious, no-fuss family meal that can be on the table in almost no time at all. It is, undoubtedly, a firm favourite in our home. Just an easy, deletable home-cooked meal that goes in the centre of the table so that everyone can tuck in at their leisure.

I like to use leg quarters for this recipe but really, any part of the chicken is just as delicious. The meat is tender and juicy with a lovely spice. The skin is gorgeously browned and crispy and the rice deliciously fluffy, flavourful and buttery.
Make sure to coat the chicken liberally with the spice rub so that the flavour soaks into the rice.

You can combine all of the ingredients in a roasting tray and put it straight into the oven although I like to brown the chicken first to ensure an extra crispy skin. I then cook the onion & garlic in a little oil and butter before adding the rice and mixing everything together.

Everything you need is in this dish but if you want to serve something alongside, opt for something minimalistic like a tomato & avocado salad.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
for the spice rub
1t onion powder
1t garlic powder
1t paprika
1t salt
1/2t pepper
2T olive oil

Combine all the ingredients together except the oil. Mix and set aside.

For the tray bake
4T olive oil
80g butter
4-6 chicken leg quarters
1 white onion, chopped
3t crushed garlic
120g long grain or basmati rice
1t cumin seeds, crushed
1t dried thyme
1t dried oregano
1t fine salt
1t black pepper
400ml chicken stock
1C frozen peas
fresh cilantro / coriander leaves, garnish
fresh parsley, chopped, garnish

method
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
Drizzle the two tablespoons olive oil over the meat. Using your hands, rub the spice rub into the skin.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Set aside.
In the same pan, without wiping it clean, heat the remaining two tablespoons olive oil and about 30g of the butter. Sauté the onion & garlic until glossy and fragrant, while stirring. About three minutes.
Add the remaining butter, crushed cumin, oregano & thyme to the skillet / roasting tray and add the rice. Stir to melt the butter and coat the rice and then season with the salt & pepper.
Tip the mixture into a roasting tray or ovenproof dish if needed.
Arrange the chicken pieces on top of the rice and then pour the stock into the dish, around the meat.
Cover the roasting tray or dish with tin foil and bake for about 40 minutes.
Remove the tray from the oven and carefully remove the foil, taking care the steam doesn’t burn your hand.

Test the rice to see if it is cooked. If it is not perfectly tender, cover with foil again and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Now remove the chicken pieces and set aside.
Stir the frozen peas through the rice, replace the chicken pieces and place the dish back into the oven, uncovered, and bake for a further 15 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven, garnish with the fresh cilantro and parsley and serve.






red wine & vegetable braised lamb neck

It has been years since I last cooked lamb neck and I feel I have missed out on beautiful & succulent, tasty and very tender meat. It was a delicious dinner and I had lots of leftover lamb meat, which was recycled into two beautiful lamb & vegetable pies.

My preferred method of cooking here is low and slow, braised in lots of red wine with vegetables and good stock. Others may argue that it is best treated like a steak and cooked on the fire, quickly on a high heat and served pink.
I will definitely give this a go as soon as the weather allows it.

Delicious with roast potatoes, garlic mash, rice or couscous and a side of buttered vegetables.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | a little effort
1/2C flour & a little more if needed
4/6 lamb necks (depending on size)
olive oil for browning meat + extra for vegetables
1 large white onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
5 garlic cloves, sliced
2T tomato paste
1 can crushed tomato
600ml red wine
4 C good quality chicken stock
4 rosemary stalks, sprigs only
2t fresh thyme leaves
3 bay leaves
1/2t juniper berries, crushed
1/2t cumin seeds, crushed
1/2t coriander seeds, crushed
2T brown sugar
1/2t salt
black pepper
2T butter

method
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C/340 F/150 with fan.
Dredge the lamb necks in the flour. Heat olive oil in a large oven proof pot or Dutch oven and brown the meat on all sides until beautifully caramelized.
Set aside.
Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the same pot without wiping it clean. Add the butter and melt. Saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic, carrot & celery and cook for a further two minutes.
Add the tomato paste and brown sugar and cook for about three minutes, while stirring.
Crush the cumin, juniper berries & coriander seeds in a pestle & mortar and add it to the vegetables. Cook until fragrant, about two minutes.
Pour the red wine into the pot to deglaze while scraping any bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Pour the chicken stock into the pot, add the crushed tomato and stir.
Add the rosemary, bay leaves and thyme, salt & pepper and bring the mixture to a light boil.
Submerge the lamb neck into the mixture, cook on a light boil for about two minutes. Turn the heat off, cover with a tight fitting lid or tin foil and carefully place the pot into the oven.
Braise for 3 – 3 1/2 hours, until the meat is almost fall off the bone tender.

Carefully remove the lamb neck from the pot and set aside.
Using a handheld blender, blend the vegetable mixture until smooth and strain it into a sauce pot. If the mixture is a bit thick, add a little more chicken stock or water.
Alternatively, simmer until reduced. Season with salt, pepper and a little sugar if needed.

Place the lamb neck onto a serving dish and drizzle with a little of the rich, red sauce.
Garnish with fresh mint & parsley and serve with extra sauce on the side and your choice of starch and vegetables.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x


rib-eye top roast

There is something quite special about a good roast. For me it brings back many beautiful childhood memories visiting our grandparents on their farm in a little place called Citrusdal, situated at the base of the Cederburg mountains.
Although we were very young and spent most of our time outside in the orchards eating kumquats or chasing chickens and collecting eggs, I have fond memories of great tasting beef roasts served with all kinds of dipping sauces and gravies.

This rib-eye roast is definitely a shorter version of the beef roasts my grandmother used to cook. However, considering my age then, my recollection of her beef roasts may even be a little blurred.
Childhood memories are there to be cherished even if they may not always be one hundred percent accurate.

I served this roast with buttered green beans, crispy potatoes cooked in duck fat and a creamy mushroom & truffle sauce.

ingredients | serves 6 | easy
2kg beef rib eye top roast
2t garlic powder
2t onion powder
1t dried sage
1 1/2t coriander seeds, crushed
2t dried thyme
1t dried rosemary
1t crushed black pepper
salt to taste
1/3C or a even a little more of olive oil

Combine all of the dry ingredients except the salt in a small bowl. Add the olive oil and combine to make a paste.
Using your hands, rub the paste into the roast.
Wrap the roast with clingfilm and place it in the fridge to marinate for a minimum of one hour. Remove the roast from the fridge and allow it to come up to room temperature. (About an hour).
Preheat the oven to 240 degrees C.
Remove the clingfilm, season with salt and place the roast, fat side up, on a rack in a roasting pan.
Roast in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 165 degrees C and continue to roast for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
(This depends on the size of the meat. As a guide, roasting time should be about 20 minutes per 500g.)
If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature of the meat should read 65 degrees C for medium rare.

Carefully remove the roast from the oven, loosely cover with tin foil and leave to rest for about 20 minutes before slicing into beautiful thick slices.



beef brisket

This cut is most definitely one of the least tender cuts of beef but when braised or slowly roasted (low & slow) it is rendered soft and has the most incredible flavour!
I was lucky enough to get a very large piece of brisket from my local butcher. A whole 4.6kg of brisket! So I portioned it, wrapped it and placed it in my freezer for a next occasion. One piece, however, was on my dining table last night. And it was sublime! The warm earthy flavours of the spices it was marinated in worked well with the skillet potato & sweet potato and, of course, was the perfect meal for a chilly winters evening.
The low and slow method is very important here so give it the full four hours as per my recipe. You will not regret it.
I also requested my butcher to remove the bone, which was ideal when slicing the meat.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
1.3kg beef brisket, bone removed
Olive oil
2t paprika
2t ground coriander
2t mustard powder
1t garlic powder
1/4t salt
1/2t black pepper
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
2T brown sugar
2T tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, whole
3 bay leaves
1.5C red wine
chicken stock (about 2 cups depending on the size of your roasting tray)
corn flour if necessary

how to
In a bowl, mix together the paprika, coriander, mustard powder & garlic powder. Drizzle about three tablespoons olive oil over the brisket and gently rub it into the meat on all sides.
Tip the spice marinade onto the brisket and rub it in using your hands, covering the meat on all sides. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for one hour.
Remove the meat from the fridge and leave to come up to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Heat oil in a large oven proof skillet or tray big enough to hold the brisket. Brown the brisket on all sides, about five minutes per side. Remove the brisket and set aside.
Add a knob of butter to the same skillet without wiping it clean. Sauté the onion for about two minutes. Add the carrot and cook for one minute, stirring.
Add the tomato paste & brown sugar to the skillet and cook the mixture for about three minutes, caramelising the onion & carrot. Add the garlic, stir through and then deglaze the pan with the red wine. Leave to simmer for about three minutes. Add the bay leaves, salt & black pepper. Now pour the chicken stock around the brisket, just more than halfway up.
Tightly wrap the skillet with tin foil or cover with a tight fitting lid.
Place into the oven and roast for 4 hours.
Once cooked, leave to rest for about ten minutes, loosely covered with tinfoil. Meanwhile, using an immersion blender, blitz the stock and vegetable mixture and then strain through a sieve into a sauce pot.
Bring the mixture to the boil and then to a medium simmer. Taste and season. Thicken with corn flour if needed. (Two teaspoons corn four with two teaspoons water.).
Using a serrated knife, slice the brisket flat, against the grain.

Serve with skillet vegetables and couscous or roasted root vegetables.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x




braised beef short rib with mushrooms

I am very passionate about stews and casseroles so generally look for any excuse to cook another rich, hearty one pot. (Not that i ever need an excuse to cook anything!)
Good quality meat is the perfect start to any good stew or casserole followed, of course, by fresh vegetables and drinkable red wine. I always buy good quality boxed red wine and keep it in my pantry. It lasts much longer than bottled red wine, making it cost effective.
These dishes need a lot of love and patience, which is all worth it once you lift the lid and sniff the wonderful aroma of slow cooked meat, garlic, herbs and red wine.
Short rib is a fairly inexpensive cut of meat and is beautiful served on its own in portions or pulled in a beefy BBQ sauce or use the pulled meat for a short rib pie in a puff crust.
If this kind of food does not do something for your soul, i really am not sure what will.

ingredients | serves 6 | a little effort
2kg beef short rib (portioned by your butcher)
5T plain flour
200g bacon, diced
1 punnet (250g) button mushrooms, halved
3 stalks rosemary, leaves only
1 garlic head, halved
2 medium carrots, grated
3 leeks, diced
1 large white onion, chopped
3 celery ribs, diced
2T tomato paste
1t salt
1t black pepper
3T olive oil plus extra for browning meat
2T butter
600ml drinkable red wine
2C beef stock
1T brown sugar

how to do it
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
Dredge the meat in the flour and shake off any excess. Heat about four tablespoons of olive oil in a large oven proof skillet and brown the meat in batches until it has a beautifully coloured crust. Set aside.
Add the bacon to the skillet and cook until browned and crispy. Set aside.
In the same skillet, melt the three tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter. Sauté the chopped onion until glossy. Add the garlic and press it down, releasing the garlic flavour into skillet.
Add the grated carrot, diced leeks & celery and stir. Add the tomato paste and allow this to cook for about one minute.
Add the brown sugar, salt & pepper and stir to combine.
Pour the red wine into the skillet and allow to cook for about five minutes. Now pour the stock into the pot, add the bacon and the short rib and bring the mixture to the boil.
Cover the skillet with a tight fitting lid or tin foil and carefully place in into the preheated oven to cook for 2.5 – 3 hours until the short rib is soft and almost falling off the bone. Meanwhile, heat butter and olive oil in a pan and fry the mushrooms until just cooked. Set aside.

If you prefer a smooth sauce like i do, remove the meat from the skillet and strain the sauce through a sieve. Press the garlic out into the sauce. Pour the sauce back into the skillet and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce until thickened. Add the meat and mushrooms to the skillet and gently simmer for about five minutes to heat through.
Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve with smooth, garlicky mashed potatoes.

If you prefer to keep the sauce in its natural form, simply remove the garlic head, press the garlic out into the sauce and do not strain. Follow steps as above.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x