Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Feeding the Gardeners

I have been feeding hungry gardeners a lot lately!  Endless meals outside have been consumed with muddy paws, the only sound being that of satisfied chewing.
I must say I think that it's working as the garden is looking great ... the tulips are coming out, the strawberry plants are literally bursting out of their skins, there has been a lot of moving plants here and there, a lot of earthworks and heavy stones being lain to rest.  Feeling tired has a new meaning after our stolen hour at the weekend.
I have not been cooking anything wildly out of the ordinary, in fact erring on the side of making the whole process easier on me.  There have been endless bowls of simple aglio olio or stuffed chicken breasts with slow roasted tomatoes and a large bunch of pungent green herbs from the garden wrapped in parma ham, placed in a tin foil pillow case and baked in the oven.  Easy, delicious and made all the more so by being eaten alfresco.
My current challenge is to produce an Indiana Jones birthday cake for my five year old....watch this space for the disastrous outcome!

Below is the really quick 30 minute chicken recipe which changes almost every time I make it.  You can add almost anything to it and the best bit is you can prepare it in the morning, refridgerate and simply pop it into a hot oven when you get home from work and in 30 minutes you have a delicious flavoursome supper.  One parcel each.



Please try to use Free Range or Organic chicken breasts for this as the difference I think is immeasurable.

Split each chicken breast and fill with sundried tomatoes, black olive tapenade, basil pesto, anything like that you like.  I usually wrap them then in finely slices pancetta, smoked streaky bacon or parma ham.  You could simply pan fry this for a few minutes and bake uncovered in the oven but I love the flavour imparted from the bacon/ham when it is effectively steamed.
So place the stuffed chicken breast onto a rectangular piece of tin foil.  Add some sliced garlic, a bunch of fresh herbs to the top, some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Then taking an identically sized rectangle of tin foil, place it over the top and fold the edges together making a secure pocket.  Leave one side open so that you can tip in a glass of white wine or a cup-full of stock in around the contents. 

Seal and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 30-35 minutes.

Serve with brown rice or crusty bread and shavings of parmesan or even mashed potatoes, pouring the juice out along with the chicken breast.  I like to serve it sliced to reveal what is within.  I have made this many many times sometimes adding chopped carrots, green beans, chard, cannellini beans ... this is always an experiment and I have not been disappointed yet.



Oh and one word of advice, don't watch the news, enjoy what you have, be thankful and go for a long walk on the beach.



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