Cajun fried chicken

You may rememberer, if you are a regular reader, that I passed on to you a couple of posts back (wings and honkers I think) my recipe for real Cajun spices, well here’s another really nice social meal using these spices.
Let me first explain, if you use these spices neat they will blow the top of your head off, forget eating raw chillies this stuff is serious. There are a few of you now reading this that are going to take this as a slap in the face with a glove, in other words “I can eat the hottest chillies or the hottest curries etc”, well firstly this is not a contest (macho or otherwise) and secondly hot chillies and curries are pussy food compared to Cajun. I strongly recommend diluting these spices for this dish (I know some of you are going to disregard what I’m saying, well more fool you) I normally use a 50/50 mix of spice and plain flour, this will still be hotter than anything else you’ve ever eaten so be warned. You can dilute further by adding a greater proportion of flour.
Right then on to the recipe, mix two teaspoons of Cajun spice, here it is again:

1 table spoon garlic powder(granules or salt can be used)
1 table spoon onion powder ( ditto)
2 teaspoons white pepper
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

with two teaspoons of plain floor and a 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika. Cut diagonally two chicken breasts into strips and coat with the spice mixture and let stand for half an hour.

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Heat some corn oil in a pan and gently fry the chicken pieces until golden all over.

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A good accompaniment to this is a stir fry, I have used two spring onion, two slices of ginger and two red chillies all cut into matchstick size pieces, in addition cut two/three peppers (green,red,yellow whatever) into 10mm slices and a red onion into eight segments.

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Heat two dessert spoons of corn oil in a wok until smoking, add the spring onion, ginger and chillies and swish around for 15 secs, add the remainder and stir vigorously until they are very slightly blackened at the edges but are still crunchy (the wok must be hot and smoking, you will need to ventilate the kitchen when doing this dish or you will either be overcome with the fumes or sneeze your arse off). When you consider it cooked add a sprinkle of rock salt and a good splash of sesame seed oil, stir and serve with the chicken and fajitas (wraps to the idiots amongst you).

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A really nice meal for two.
Enjoy and for those of you who didn’t heed the warnings, serves you fucking right.

Millie, salt and Burgers

Well the summer looks like its well and truly over not that we had much of one anyway this year, the garden was really a waste of time given the amount of effort that want in. The only veg that returned anything like a good crop were the Fennel and Carrots, nothing else really came to much, oh well there’s always next year, I am intending to plant a few things during the winter, garlic for one.
I’ve intensified Millie’s training over the last few weeks just to sharpen her up for the new shooting season. It’s surprising how they need it but I suppose they get a bit lazy during the spring and summer months. This may be down to the fact that they don’t encounter the same game scent during this time, also I don’t like to work her hard when the temperature rises as she pants hard after a minimal amount of walking. It’s really noticeable that during the summer months she only eats about a third of her winter intake but she drinks far more. I try to up her diet now by giving her a lot more protein by way of fresh bones, sardines and cooked meat, this generally helps to give her coat a good thickness and builds some fat, not that she retains fat that much. She is the only Spaniel I’ve ever had that is not motivated by food, she tends to pick at her food much the same as a cat does, whereas most Spaniels I know wolf their food in one go and woe betide any owner that gets their fingers in the way. I think Millie is unique in this way.
I am firmly convinced that gun dogs have calendars hanging up in their kennels and cross off the days leading up to the shooting season, come the 1st of September they just seem to switch on and it’s not only me that notices it.

I’ve talked about salt in previous posts, now I’ve been asked by a few people about salt quantities, I don’t know how to explain this, all I can say is that I just seem to know how much to use. I’ve been cooking for a long time and I suppose I’ve learned from experience, I don’t measure salt I just use it. I will say that I think most cooks I know use too little, when you are preparing a dish add the salt at the right times and adjust all the seasoning as you go along. You do have to be careful if you are reducing a dish, it’s best to add more salt at the end or near the end as you will over enhance the salt content the more you reduce. Another thing to consider is the ingredients and what amount of saltiness they will contribute, take bacon/ham, these will add a significant amount of salt so be wary. I think most people are afraid of salt, using too much that is, well don’t be, you will have to use an awful lot to ruin a dish. You’ll need to experiment. Another thing to consider is what type of salt, don’t use fine ground table salt for cooking, it’s not meant for this, use a good rock salt and I don’t mean those really expensive “sun dried on the shore £5 a packet” ones, they are generally hype. I use Saxo sea salt granules, they are the best.

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Joe and I had some burgers tonight, the same as the ones I barbied the other day only this time I girdled them as it was pissing down outside, boy oh boy they were good.

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Jodie and other less important stuff

It’s been a bit busy over the last week or so, I’ve had several family members down to stay (unexpected for the most part),went to Cardiff and cooked some nice meals, we’ll get to them in due course.
I firstly wanted to add something that was written by my mate Steve about his lovely dog Jodie, here it is;

I guess that the tale of mine of my gundog has happened and been felt by people up and down the country, it does not make it any easier to tell however.

I had an English Springer ‘Jodie’ for some 7 years and bought her trained. We jelled very quickly and became firm friends. I gave her the best of everything, after all, she gave me the best too. A remarkable dog in every way.

She reached 10 this year and was slowing up a bit, I was 50 too and I knew how she felt. I kept her out of the rivers in cold weather, I left that to the younger dogs, she wasn’t overly impressed with that because she was always the 1st to get stuck in just to please me.

In the middle of April things took a dramatic turn for the worst. In a matter of days she deteriorated and a friend of mine said there was something wrong. I knew it too but was in denial I suppose. I took her to the vets.

She had the uncanny ability to look you directly in the eyes and it felt like she could see your soul. I left her with the young vet. She was on her lead, the same white one I bought all those years ago. She sat and looked at me as only she could but this time it was different, it was as though she knew something was seriously wrong. I knew it too. I said goodbye to her and left.

The phone call from the vet was not good. They discovered a large tumour. All the options were discussed and all were traumatic and the prognosis remained very poor. I told them I would call them back.

After I put the phone down and sat at my desk. I reflected upon the words of a good friend of mine years earlier. ‘You have to love your dog to have them put down’. I returned the call to the vet and issued the inevitable instruction. It was the 19th April, not a good day.

This year’s shooting season is now with us and it will be odd not to have her by my side but I know she will be in spirit.

Sadly I was the friend and I miss Jodie also as she was Millie’s mother and a wonderful dog.

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Jodie

As I said earlier I went in to Cardiff, mainly to get a hair cut but I dropped in to see Gary as well as I was intending to make some burgers and needed some beef. Gary suggested that I try some of his home grown ones, well as everything else I’ve ever bought from him has been first class I thought I’d take his advice and bought six half pounders (and a bone for Millie).
I cooked them on the Barbie until medium, just slightly pink in the middle and they were absolutely fantastic, i don’t think I’ll bother making them any more as these were the dogs.

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Says it all really.

I’ve cooked a few other dishes this week which are really easy, quick and very tasty, the first was an Italian tomato sauce, this is a really quick dish; chop up quite finely half an onion, a very small carrot and half a stick of celery, sauté this in some good olive oil until slightly golden, add two tins of chopped tomatoes some salt,black pepper and a pinch of oregano. Simmer this for half an hour or so, stirring occasionally (try to break up the tomato lumps as best you can), finish off with some chopped basil stirred in just before serving on a pasta of your choice. Don’t forget the Parmesan.

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The other quick and easy dish I did was again an Italian recipe, Fennel in the Tuscan style, this is really easy, I used three large globes cut into 15mm slices lengthways, boil this with two 10mm thick rounds of lemon, some salt and a tablespoon of olive oil for 20 mins or until done.
Drain, discard the lemon slices. Melt 25g of unsalted butter in a large flat pan, add the Fennel, coat on both sides and arrange in the pan, coat the top with grated Parmesan and pop under the grill until the cheese is golden. I served this with Parma ham and ciabatta, mmmmm.

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Labradors and pheasant casserole

Well I have to say one of the funniest things I’ve ever witnessed happened today, I went down to the Peli to take Millie out for a walk, I took her down to the river (she loves it there), when I got back to the pub there was a couple with their daughter sitting in the smokers barn. They had obviously been walking their two Labs, one was a very big black dog the other a very big (and I do mean very big, this thing was huge, I subsequently found out it was only five months old) puppy. Anyway as I approached both dogs were up wanting to play with Millie, she ignored them as she does most dogs but it took all the owners could do to control them. I continued into the pub and bought a pint and returned to the smokers barn intending to have a cigar with my beverage. This is when the fun started, in the time it took for me to get my pint the people in the barn had been served their lunch and were merrily digging in. Now what must have happened was the mother had put her foot through the loop end of the puppy’s lead whilst the daughter held on to the big ones lead while they were intending to eat. As I entered the barn the puppy (you should have seen the size of its paws) made a playful lunge for Millie pulling the poor woman (and her plate of food) off the bench seat, at the same time the big dog made a similar lunge dragging the young girl off her part of the bench seat, the father not understanding what was happening tried to first grab his wife (and missed) and then grab his daughter (and missed) but managed to knock both his and his daughter’s meals onto the floor. You have to imagine the scene, there was this woman being dragged across the floor by the ankle, the young girl being spun onto her back and the guy sprawled across the table with three dogs gleefully tucking into their lunch. Luckily they saw the funny side of it, nobody was hurt and the dogs got a free lunch, I laughed all the way home.

The other day I found a pheasant lurking in the darkest regions of the freezer, one I had shoot last year, it was a small hen so I decided to casserole it. I cut it into four pieces and browned it in 50 grams of unsalted butter, removed it from the pan and put it in the oven to keep warm.

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chop up the usual two rashers of smoked bacon, an onion, a small stick of celery and a small carrot and sauté in the butter that the pheasant pieces were browned in, until there is a hint of them turning russet, add the pheasant pieces and cook gently for ten mins then pour over a good glass of Armagnac and ignite, once it is flaming put the lid on and remove from the heat for two mins.

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Add a bunch of parsley, a couple of sprigs of thyme, a bay leaf, 12 juniper berries and half a lemon, season add half a litre of chicken stock (see previous post) and pop into a low oven for two to three hours. This dish is really tangy, you can thicken the sauce with some plain flour mixed with a little water at the end if you feel it’s necessary.

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Joe and I had this with some boiled Pembroke potatoes, beans and carrots from the garden, oh and a rather nice beaujolais.