Thursday, 26 May 2011

Cooking with Bonne Maman

I recently treated myself to Bonne Maman The Seasonal Cookbook. I rarely follow the recipes in books or magazines, using them more as an inspiration. However, this book has so many wonderful recipes and photos that make you salivate that I just had to try some.
I often serve melon with prosciutto, but loved this variation of ham with peaches.

Fresh Peach and Parma Ham Salad
serves 6
6 just ripe peaches, halved, stoned and thickly sliced
12 thin slices Parma ham
about 125 g wild rocket or baby leaf watercress
for the dressing:
2 tbsp white wine or sherry vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Bonne Maman Peach conserve
1 tsp finely chopped red chilli
First make the dressing by putting all the ingredients in a jar and giving them a good shake until well blended.
Put the peach slices in a non-metallic bowl and pour over the dressing. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
When ready to serve, simply curl 2 slices of ham per person on individual serving plates. Toss the leaves with the peaches and dressing in a large bowl, then divide between the serving plates. Serve immediately.
The dressing could be made up to 1 week ahead and kept in the fridge (not sure what's the advantage of making a dressing a week in advance, as it takes literally seconds to prepare a fresh one).
The dressing is equally good with slices of mixed melon or pieces of fresh mango or papaya.

My take on the recipe: as there were only 4 of us, I used 4 peaches. Instead of chopping a chilli pepper, I used a teaspoon of Schwartz chilli that comes in a tube.
Score 9/10 for the recipe

Roast Chicken with Cherry Couscous stuffing
serves 4
150g Bonne Maman Cherry Compote
50g couscous
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
4 spring onions, roughly chopped
2 tbsp each of chopped fresh thyme and parsley
grated zest and juice of 1 small orange
1 free range chicken, weighing about 1.4 kg
300 ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp butter, softened
2 tbsp plain flour
salt and black pepper
Spoon the compote into a mesh sieve over a small bowl and spread out the fruit. Leave to drain for about 1 hour.
Put the couscous in a small bowl and pour enough cold water to come 2.5 cm above the level of the grains. Set aside for 15 mins. (Personally I always add boiling water to couscous rather than cold, and less than 2.5cm above).
Meanwhile, fry the red onion in half the oil for 5-7 minutes or until soft and golden. Add the spring onions, then remove from the heat, stir in the herbs and orange zest and cool.
Preheat the oven to 190C (fan ovens 170C), gas mark 5.
Fork the drained cherries, reserving the juice, and cold onion mixture into the couscous and season well. Spoon the stuffing into the neck end of chicken, fold over the flap of skin and secure with a wooden cocktail stick. (There was too much couscous to add it just to the neck, I also added some to the back cavity - not sure how to call the bum entrance, lol- but not too tightly packed, and still had some stuffing left, not enough to cook in a separate dish)
Sit the chicken in a roasting tin just large enough to hold it comfortably and pour the stock around the base. Brush the chicken with the remaining oil and spread the breast with the butter. Season well.
Cook in the preheated oven, basting every 20 mins, for about 1 1/4 hours. To test if it's cooked, pierce the thigh meat with a skewer and the juices should run clear.
Lift the chicken onto a serving dish, cover loosely with foil and keep warm. Pour all but 2 tbsps of the cooking liquid into a jug and add the reserved cherry compote liquid.
Put the roasting tin over the hob and whisk the flour. Cook over a medium heat until pale golden, then gradually whisk in the contents of the jug. Bring to the boil and bubble until reduced and lightly thickened. Add orange juice to taste and serve with the chicken and stuffing.

Allow the cherries plenty of time to drain. The fruit should be quite "dry" when it is stirred into the couscous.
Try serving the chicken with steamed new potatoes that have been tossed with a little butter and a handful of chopped watercress.

My take on the recipe: I added a dash of port to the jus, as it tasted a bit on the bland side. Perhaps a bit more of cherry juice from the compote would benefit the flavour. I didn't use the tin, but a deep ceramic dish for cooking the chicken, and served it with roast potatoes and baby carrots. Also the stuffing was rather falling apart, as there is no egg to bind it.
Score: 8/10 for the recipe

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