Main Course – Poultry

Sitar’s butter chicken

While this isn’t mums and certainly made for our Aussie tastes it is still the best Butter Chicken in Brisbane. 

Sitar originally a one off restaurant in Albion is now a mini franchise in Brisbane. Fortunately it seems that the butter chicken recipe is part of the franchise because it’s been consistently good at 3 locations.

I am copying it to the cookbook in fear that Sitar might one day decide to remove it from their site! 

Ingredients :

1 whole chicken 

2 tomatoes puree in a blender

2 onions, chopped 

1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste 

15 cashew nuts paste 

1 ½ tbsp butter 

3 tbsp cream 

1 tsp chilli powder 

Oil for frying 

salt to taste 


For the marinade :

1 tbsp tandoori masala 
½ tbsp garam masala (cloves, cinnamon and cardamom powdered) 

2 tbsp lime juice 

½ tsp jeera 

5 tbsp yoghurt

Directions

Marinate the chicken in the marinade for 1 whole hour. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and fry the chicken for 10 minutes. 

Remove the chicken and keep aside. In the remaining oil fry add the chopped onions till golden , then add the ginger-garlic paste and fry sprinkling little water now and then, till the oil separates. 

Add the cashew paste, chilli powder, tomato paste and cook for 10 mins. 

Add the butter and the cream and the chicken. Mix well and cook till done. Garnish with coriander.

Visit www.sitar.com.au

Christmas Glazed Duck Breasts in Orange Jus

Glazed Duck Breasts in Orange Jus

The duck breasts we have had for Christmas dinner for the last few years require quite a bit of organisation beforehand if Christmas day is to be hassle free. The breasts themselves are not difficult to cook, even if this method, (which I have borrowed from Tetsuya Wakuda) involves moving them from a frying pan to the oven to the griller. It is the sauce (or gravy, or jus) that presents the problem.

The breasts release a good deal of fat (which should be kept), but very little else that will help you to begin making a good sauce. They do release some juices when they are resting and these are, of course added to the sauce. It is a little late to begin, though, when the breasts are about to be served.

If you already have some homemade chicken gravy as a starting point, things become much easier. It really is worthwhile cooking a chicken during the week before Christmas for this express purpose. Have demi-glace on hand, bought or homemade, homemade chicken stock, a bottle of Grand Marnier and a made-up quantity of orange sauce base. The orange sauce base gives the sauce depth. Zested orange peel is an optional extra.

You can also make up the glaze beforehand.

If you have done all this and then find at the last minute that the shop from which you have ordered your duck breasts has itself forgotten to order duck breasts, (which has happened to me two years in a row), you can be forgiven for having a nervy turn! Last year, the only place that could help me at short notice was Black Pearl Caviar, really desperation stuff! The bonus was that the breasts (magrets) were from ducks with the most obscenely large breasts. They were expensive but absolutely delicious.

I think the moral of the story is to buy your breasts a couple of weeks before Christmas. Chances are they will be frozen anyway and they might as well sit in your freezer as in somebody else’s.

6 duck breasts (large if possible)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 – 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Plain flour
Good chicken gravy, prepared beforehand
Good chicken stock (or duck stock if you have it)
Demi-glace
Orange sauce base (see below)
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
Zested rind of 1 orange
Glaze (See below)

Orange sauce base:
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons malt vinegar
3 tablespoons orange juice, strained

Caramelise the brown sugar and malt vinegar together in a saucepan, then carefully add the strained orange juice. Simmer, then cool.

Duck glaze:
150ml soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
50ml mirin

Combine soy sauce, brown sugar and mirin in a saucepan and stir until sugar has dissolved. Set aside.

Line griller tray with foil and preheat oven.

Trim the duck breasts and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Brown breasts, in batches, skin side down, in the grapeseed oil in a non-stick frying pan. When the skin is dark brown and crisp, turn to cook the flesh very briefly. Reserve the fat for another use.

Transfer the breasts to a baking dish and place in the oven to cook for another 5 – 6 minutes depending on the size of the breasts. Remove from oven, place on a warm plate, cover with foil and allow to rest.

Strain off all but a little fat from the baking dish, add a little plain flour if there is sufficient duck juice to warrant it. Add chicken stock and make a light gravy. If insufficient duck juice, omit this step.

Place duck gravy (if any), prepared chicken gravy and orange sauce base in a saucepan with a little chicken stock and bring to the boil. Add Grand Marnier and 1 tablespoon demi-glace, reduce heat and simmer gently. Check seasonings.

Remove duck breasts from foil, carefully pouring any accumulated juices into the sauce.

Place breasts, skin side down, on foil covered grill tray and paint each breast with glaze. Brown lightly. Remove from grill, re-paint with glaze and replace under grill. Repeat one more time, each time being careful to remove the duck before it burns.

Cover breasts again with foil. Check the sauce and add zested orange rind, if using.

Spoon jus onto serving plates and top with duck breasts, skin side up.

Serve with roasted potatoes and red cabbage.

Serves 6.

Twice cooked duck breast with blood orange sauce

Twice cooked duck with Blood Orange Sauce

This has become one of my favourite ways of cooking duck breasts. They are tender, succulent and absolutely delicious and the sauce is wonderful too. This recipe also works well with duck legs (thighs and drumsticks).

1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
4 duck breasts or 4 duck legs
500ml canola or grapeseed oil

Blood orange sauce:
Juice of 2 blood oranges (or substitute oranges, mandarins or tangelos)
170g (¾ cup) caster sugar
4 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese rice vinegar

Bring a wok or large saucepan of water to the boil. Rub the five-spice powder over the duck pieces. Put some baking paper in the bottom of a large bamboo steamer. Prick holes in the paper with a fork or a skewer and arrange the duck on top. Cover with the lid and steam over the boiling water for 15 – 20 minutes. Remove the duck from the steamer, put on a plate and refrigerate, uncovered, for 3 hours or until completely cooled, or preferably overnight.
Strain the juice from the oranges and reserve two thick strips of peel.
Combine the sugar with 185ml water in a large saucepan and bring the mixture to the boil for 5 minutes to reduce, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Add the orange juice, star anise the cinnamon stick and reserved strips of peel and allow to cook so that the sauce reduces. Remove from the heat and stir in the soy sauce and vinegar.
Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. When the surface of the oil is shimmering, lower the duck into the oil, skin side down. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn the duck and cook for a further 2 minutes. Repeat this, cooking for a further 2 minutes on either side.
Put the duck onto a plate, cover, and rest for 5 minutes.
Cut the breasts into thick slices and arrange on the serving plates. Spoon over the orange sauce and the star anise.
Serve with wilted Asian greens.

Serves4

How to poach meat or fish

Poaching is a cooking technique that is usually neglected in most cookery books. When meat is thrown into simmering water it inevitably emerges tough and unsatisfying. Think of uncooked chicken in a simmering laksa stock. The toughness is produced because, when the water is at simmering temperature (not to mention boiling), the proteins in the meat begin to harden and disintegrate and the meat becomes dry and tough.

Poaching is generally confined to fish and white meats such as chicken and veal. Lately, though, I have been applying poaching techniques to other ‘boiled’ meats such as ox tongue and silverside and the results have been quite sensational. So much so that Dad’s fishing mates have been asking for recipes. A compliment, indeed.

You will find various references to poaching throughout the book. There is a recipe for Poached Chicken Breasts in this section and “Buffets and Cold Lunches”. Vitello Tonato is a delicious veal and anchovy dish served with tuna mayonnaise (also in “Buffets and Cold Lunches”), is a classic poached dish, as is Poached Whole Fish in the same section. 

Poaching is the slow cooking of meat or fish in water or a court boullion (water enhanced with herbs, spices and vegetables). Poached meat tends to lack colour, but is tender, moist (if properly done) and full of flavour. It has the advantage of being low fat and also of producing some wonderful stocks that can be re-used for poaching, added to soups or used as a base for risotto.

A heat diffusing mat is essential for successful poaching. I find that even the lowest heat on the smallest gas ring will eventually bring a stockpot full of liquid to simmering point without one. A drop lid is also useful. A drop lid is a wooden lid slightly smaller then the diameter of your stockpot that sits on top of the meat and keeps it fully submerged during cooking, allowing all the meat to be cooked evenly. I discovered drop lids when doing my Japanese cooking course. Mine is simply a round wooden breadboard with a knob attached to the centre for lifting it in and out. It should always be soaked in water before using. 

The method of poaching small items such as chicken breasts and fish fillets is slightly different from the method of poaching large ones, though in both cases the cooking is done at poaching temperature. Poaching temperature is a point, well below boiling point, when the surface of the liquid shivers, but no bubbles appear. In a clear liquid you will be able to see a few tiny bubbles on the bottom of the pot, but they will not rise. Never let the liquid simmer, let alone boil.

To poach small pieces of meat or fish fillets, bring the court bouillon (water, stock or other liquid with flavourings added) to simmering point. There should be enough liquid to just cover the meat or fish to be poached. Place meat in the simmering liquid; the temperature will immediately drop to poaching temperature. Watch carefully that the liquid does not return to a simmer and continue to cook until the meat is tender. Remove the pan from the heat when cooked. If the meat is to be served cold, it should be allowed to cool in the poaching liquid. If it is to be served hot, it should be left in the poaching liquid to rest before serving.

Some of the larger cuts of meat will form a scum on top of the liquid when the liquid boils. For this reason, the meat is placed in cold water without any aromatics and brought to the boil to release any scum. The water is then tipped out and the meat is ready to poach as follows.

To poach larger items, such as the veal in Vitello Tonata, whole fish, corned silverside and ox tongue, the meat is placed in enough cold court bouillon to just cover it and is then slowly brought to poaching temperature. This enables the heat to slowly penetrate to the inside of the meat without overcooking the outside. The temperature is kept at poaching point for the entire cooking period. Again, whether the meat is left to cool completely in the poaching liquid generally depends on whether it is to be eaten hot or cold.

Slow-roasted garlic & lemon chicken

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This recipe really has me hooked. It is so easy and delicious and also very adaptable. When you have had a little practice, you can throw your vegetables into the roasting pan with the chicken and other ingredients. We have done it very successfully with baby potatoes and artichoke hearts cut in half and chokes removed. An all time favourite is with baby fennel bulbs cut in half or quarters that end up deliciously caramelised with all the juices.

Slow-roasted garlic and lemon chicken was originally one of Nigella Lawson’s recipes, but I’m afraid her cooking times are far too long, her temperatures too high and the result totally inedible.

1 chicken (2 – 2.25 kg), cut into 10 pieces  or 4 chicken marylands or 8 chicken drumsticks
1 head of garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves
2 unwaxed lemons, cut into 8 wedges
A handful of fresh thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
250ml white wine
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven 120C.

Put the chicken pieces into a roasting pan and add the garlic cloves and lemon wedges. Pull the leaves from most of the thyme stalks and sprinkle the leaves over the chicken. Retain the remaining thyme stalks to strew over the chicken later. Add the oil, then, using your hands, mix everything together, then spread the mixture out, making sure the chicken pieces are all skin-side up.

Sprinkle over the white wine and add the black pepper. Cover the chicken tightly with foil, and place in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove the foil from the roasting pan and increase the oven heat to 160C. Cook the uncovered chicken for another 30 – 45 minutes, by which time the skin of the chicken will have turned golden and the lemons will have begun to caramelise.

The vegetables can be added during the cooking time depending on how long you estimate they will take to cook.

Serves 4.

Red duck curry made from barbeque duck

We usually make red curry of duck with the meat of a barbecued duck purchased from Chinatown after the duck has been relieved of its skin for duck pancakes. There is no reason why you should not use a duck you have cooked yourself, and there is no reason why the skin shouldn’t go into the curry! That said, the spices added to a Chinatown duck do give it an extra dimension – and of course it is so much easier!

This is a Thai curry and Thai curries don’t normally have vegetables in them. However somehow onion wedges seem to have crept into ours and they do give the curry a nice crunch.

For the sweet element, we use either lychees in syrup or John West mandarin segments in syrup. Both work well.

1 onion, peeled and cut into thin wedges
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 x 400ml can coconut cream
1 x 400ml can coconut milk
1½ tablespoons Thai red curry paste
Meat (and skin, optional) from 1 Chinese roast duck, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or to taste)
1 can lychees in syrup, or 1 can mandarins in syrup
A few kaffir lime leaves
1 tablespoon coriander, roots, stems and leaves finely chopped

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok and cook the onion wedges until transparent but still crunchy. Remove from wok and set aside. Tip excess oil from the wok.

Tip the coconut cream into the wok and cook until it cracks. (Cook until the oil separates from the cream.) Add the red curry paste and cook for about 1 minute, then gradually add the coconut milk. Bring slowly to the boil.

Drain the lychees or mandarins but don’t discard the liquid.

Add the reserved onion wedges, the duck meat, the lychees or mandarins (but not the syrup), the fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves and coriander.

Test for balance of flavours. If not salty enough, add more fish sauce. If not sweet enough, add a little of the syrup from the fruit.

Serve with jasmine rice.