Sometimes you think something is a good idea when you sign up to do it but then when it comes to the day you realise that either you can’t be bothered to do what you’re supposed to do or you simply are unable able to complete the task at hand. For the longest time Yin has been filling my head with a whole bunch of gas making me think that I am a good cook. So when he suggested that we shoot a cooking feature with me positioned as the head chef I agree without hesitation. Quite obviously I was feeling myself thinking that I was some kind of Gordon Ramsay spin off thanks to Yin’s endorsements.
Ingredients List: Chicken thighs & drumsticks, couscous, sweet potato, an onion, peppers (red & yellow), cucumber, sweetcorn, cherry tomatoes, salad leaves, garlic, lemon, vegetable/olive oil, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, sweet chilli sauce, brown sugar, salt, black pepper and Knorr chicken cube,
Clearly some preparation was needed and by preparation I mean the small details such as having an idea of what was to be on the menu. You would think that one would have all of that sorted out before embarking on this cooking venture but unfortunately I did not. I woke up that morning regretting the fact that I had agreed to feed these hungry ass people, but feed them I must.
I rolled up to Yin’s house with Yang and from there we preceded to take a stroll to Sainsbury’s, where Tahirah would later meet us. Stepping in the supermarket still unaware of what I was going to cook was undoubtedly a mistake on my part but I just push through and grab what I could. At this point my main aim was trying to make sure that the ingredients we selected would go together on a plate. Throw four non-vegetarian ethnics in a supermarket with no clue of what to cook you are guaranteed to end up with the obvious choice, which is chicken. Can we have a moment of silence right now and show some appreciation for the greatness that is the bird we call chicken. If it weren’t for this bird then many an ethnic would starve.
Mid-cooking pose from Yangatron.
Picking out the meat was the easy part but what was to accompany it? I know, I know what’s so hard about thinking of what to cook with chicken you ask. Well when you’re surrounded by health freaks things become a little cloudy for a mind such as mine. I tried to condition my mind to be healthy but by default I think in calories and carbs. Rice, pasta, bread and potato were off limits however just before we left Yin did insinuate that he was prepared to indulge just this once and Yang had already fallen off the wagon that week so another bad meal wouldn’t hurt.
Back at the house we chilled before getting our hands dirty but get them dirty we did. I roped the guys in to help me minus Yin as his ever so fortunate get out clause was the fact the he was the photographer. In the beginning I stood back and orchestrated the play like a football coach watching his team from the sidelines. Yang was on chopping duties and T done a great job of cleaning and seasoning the chicken.
Whilst the chopping, seasoning and browning of the chicken was in process I was busy making the sauce/marinade. Soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup and sweet chilli sauce were the ingredients I used. From the reaction of Yin and Yang the sauce was clearly a winner, however at this point I was still unsure of how the whole meal was going to come together.
With the sweet potato cooking in the oven along with the chicken and part of the salad made it was time to once again sit down and chill. All that was left to do was finish off the salad and cook the couscous. For the couscous I sweated out some peppers (red & yellow) with some onions. Whilst the peppers and onions were cooking I boiled some water in the kettle and made chicken stock, which was to be used to flavour the couscous. Once everything was ready it was time to plate up.
I’m not some Michelin star chef so I don’t have the fancy presentation skills to that level but we did what we could. The finished article wasn’t going to be judged on looks but rather the taste. Unfortunately I didn’t particularly enjoy the meal. I think the culmination of initially not knowing what to cook along with the pressure of shooting a feature knowing I didn’t have a concrete plan of what to do hindered the outcome of what was supposed to be a decent meal.
Step 1 – Skin and clean the chicken.
Remove all the skin from the chicken, cut the lemon in half and clean the chicken with it using cold or lukewarm water. If you don’t have a lemon then the cleaning process can be achieved using Vinegar.
Step 2 – Season the chicken.
Place the chicken in a bowl along with half a chopped onion, garlic, salt, black pepper and two tablespoons of soy sauce. Mix all together making sure that all the chicken is fully seasoned.
Step 3 – Cook the sweet potato.
Wash the sweet potato with water and then wrap the potatoes individually in foil added a sprinkle of oil. Place the potatoes in the oven along with the chicken and proceed to cook for 45 minutes at 180 degrees.
Step 4 – Make the sauce/marinade
Place 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in a bowl along with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 4 tablespoons of ketchup, 4 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce and mix together.
Step 5 – Brown the chicken.
Place the chicken in a preheated and oiled skillet. Cook the chicken until both sides have a nice brown colour.
Step 6 – Cover the chicken.
Once the chicken is browned off place onto an oven tray and pour the marinade all over making sure that all the chicken is covered. Cover the chicken with foil and then place the tray in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 45 minutes. After 25-30 minutes take the chicken out and pour more marinade over the top of the chicken, then place the tray back into the oven this time without the foil covering the chicken for the final 10-15 minutes.
Step 7 – Prepare the salad
Place the salad leaves, chopped cucumber, sweetcorn and chopped cherry tomatoes in a bowl. Dress the salad with a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Do this to taste.
Step 8 – Prepare the cous cous
Boil the kettle. Whilst the kettle is boiling finely dice half an onion, half a red pepper and half yellow pepper and cook them in a frying pan with a drizzle of vegetable oil. Once the kettle has boiled place one Knorr chicken cube into a small bowl and add hot water, stir until the cube has dissolved making a chicken stock. Place the uncooked cous cous into a separate bowl (how much is dependent on how many people you are feeding. A helpful tips is – One cup full of uncooked cous cous will feed two people) then add the onions, peppers and chicken stock. You want to have the stock level sit half a pinky finger above the level of the cous cous. Once the stock has been added leave the cous cous for five minutes giving it enough time to absorb all the water.
Step 9 – Plate up
Now everything has been cooked it’s time to put everything onto a plate.
Step 10 – Eat and Enjoy
All that is left to do is eat and enjoy your meal. Bon Appetit.
Hopefully we’ll shoot another one of these features but this time I’ll have my ish together. I’ll cook up a storm and present something that I can be more proud of. Until next time!