Paul Flynn: I’m stepping back and taking a deep breath
I feel taken advantage of over the past few months. This in-house chef has done all the cooking
Chicken schnitzel with buttered courgettes, red onion and thyme
I’m spoofing a bit in this one. These recipes are not so much family favourites, more so what I wish were family favourites. My family like all the ingredients in these recipes, but it never follows that they will like the dish.
I won’t repeat the foibles of my own children to you. But they’re not that fussy, I don’t think. At least not in comparison to the other children they choose to tell me about. Maybe I’m gullible and they’re fickle and we’ve all been cooped up together now for way too long? It’s just as well things have loosened up, we were all flintily eyeing up each other at the end of the lockdown.
In truth, I also feel a bit taken advantage of over the past few months. Their in-house chef has done all the cooking except for the two occasions when their mother made dinner, with great fanfare. I feel like an old pony that’s been ridden once too often. I’m stepping back and taking a deep breath.
Ingredients don’t make dishes. That’s where common sense comes in. The dishes in my column this week all make sense and are lovely to eat. A chicken schnitzel has crunch and interest. It can make the most mundane chicken tolerable. Here, it sits on a buttery, simple stew of green things. Eat it with mash for some comfort.
I love rigatoni pasta. It’s sturdy and reliable and here it is enveloped in a pea cream that has the faint smoke of a rasher. Crisp pieces of white pudding adorn it like a crown. Top secret : I prefer white to black pudding.
I never waste chicken skin, it’s the essence of roast chicken. Anytime I’m cooking chicken thighs, I save the skins and make this butter. Sometimes I roast the skins on their own with some salt as a snack, they’re dreamy.
This butter is great with pasta or baked potatoes or with bread. I whip it to make it lighter, so I you can eat more of it, but if you choose not to, that’s ok. It’s a staple in the Tannery. I can’t imagine being without it. You will have butter left over, but that’s a good thing.
CHICKEN SCHNITZEL, BUTTERED COURGETTES, RED ONIONS AND THYME
4 chicken breasts
Flour for coating
2 eggs beaten with a little milk, seasoned with salt and pepper
250g stale breadcrumbs
A drizzle of olive oil
A large knob of butter
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
A sprig of fresh thyme
2 medium courgettes, topped and tailed
200g petit pois
Salt and pepper
A squeeze of lemon
4 tbsp sour cream
1 Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius, or gas mark 6.
2 Butterfly the chicken breasts. To do this, cut them in half from the side, without cutting all the way through the breast, then open it out so it’s more or less the same thickness all over.
3 Put the chicken between cling film and bat it out with a rolling pin until the chicken is thin and even.
4 Get yourself a system whereby the flour (seasoned with salt and pepper) is in one tray, the egg in another and the breadcrumbs are in another; this is a messy business.
5 One by one, coat the chicken in the flour, beating off any excess, then into the egg, then finally into the breadcrumbs, making sure they adhere to every part of the chicken.
6 Drizzle a large oven tray with olive oil. Place your schnitzels on the tray then drizzle some more oil on top of them. (This can all be done ahead of time and the chicken refrigerated.)
7 Bake the chicken for 15 minutes before checking if they are cooked, they dry out really easily, so it’s better to be safe.
8 Meanwhile halve the courgettes lengthways, then slice them evenly.
9 Melt the butter in a pan, then add the onions and thyme. Cook for three to four minutes over a low heat, then add the courgettes .
10 Put a lid on the pan then cook over a medium heat for five minutes before adding the peas. Give it another few minutes then season. The vegetables need to be soft, but mustn’t lose their colour.
11 When the chicken is cooked, add a squeeze of lemon then serve with the vegetables, a dollop of sour cream and some lovely new potatoes.
RIGATONI WITH SMOKEY PEA CREAM AND WHITE PUDDING
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
1 sprig of rosemary or thyme
350g petit pois (defrosted)
Salt and white pepper
500g of rigatoni (penne would be fine too)
1 stick of white pudding (300g), sliced
A little oil
A sprinkling of Parmesan
1 Sweat the onion, garlic, rashers and rosemary in the butter until the onions are soft and translucent, this will take 15 minutes or so.
2 Add the peas and the water and cook over a high heat for five minutes.
3 Remove the rashers and the rosemary from the pan. Season the peas, then blend till smooth.
4 Cook the pasta as per packet instructions.
5 Brush the pudding with a little oil then grill till crisp.
6 Fold the pea cream through the pasta, then season. Serve in warm bowls with the pudding on top along with the Parmesan, and a few extra herbs for prettiness, if you have them.
BARBECUED SWEETCORN WITH ROAST CHICKEN BUTTER
6 chicken thigh skins
250g butter, softened
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Some picked fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper
4 ears of fresh corn (prepacked will suffice, of course)
A little oil for brushing
1 Preheat your oven to 185 degrees Celsius, or gas mark 4.
2 Lay your chicken skins out on a roasting tray and bake in the oven until golden and crisp; it should take 15 minutes or so .
3 Allow to cool, then chop the skins up. Reserve any fat that might be on the tray for the butter.
4 Put the butter into a mixing bowl then add the chicken fat and skin, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, thyme, salt and pepper.
5 Whip the butter with the paddle attachment of your mixer for two to three minutes, until light and fluffy.
6 Roll the butter into a sausage shape, wrap it in cling film and keep in the fridge until needed.
7 If using fresh corn, peel and boil it for 15 minutes before barbecuing or roasting it in the oven. The corn must be brushed with a little oil before barbecuing .
8 Lather the cooked corn with the chicken butter and serve it immediately.