Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Spring is here - more or less - so here are some easy and quick (no need for cheating!!) recipes using chicken and eggs. E.L.
POT-ROAST SPRING CHICKEN WITH GARLIC & LEMON THYME (Serves 6) 50g / 1oz butter 2 tblsps olive oil 1 x 1.5kg / 3 lb free-range chicken 125g / 5oz bacon or pancetta, diced 6 cloves garlic, peeled 500g / generous 1 lb 'charlotte' new potatoes black pepper and salt 5-6 sprigs lemon thyme* 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped, optional 300ml / ½ pint chicken or vegetable stock salt and pepper Preheat the oven to 200ºC / Gas 6.
Heat the butter with the olive oil in a large, lidded, flame and oven-proof pot. Place the chicken in the pot and, over a low heat, slowly brown it all over for about 15 minutes. Add the bacon, or pancetta, and the garlic to the pan and cook until the bacon /pancetta fat has begun to run. Toss in the charlotte potatoes (cut the larger ones in two first) and stir to coat in the oil and butter. Season with pepper and a little salt and add the sprigs of thyme and chilli, if using. Pour over the stock and bring to the boil.
Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 1 - 1½ hours, or until the chicken is well cooked and the potatoes tender.
* If you don't have lemon thyme, just use thyme and the grated zest of ½ a lemon.
USING LEFT-OVER EGG WHITES It always seems a shame to waste egg whites when they aren't needed in a recipe. Meringues are a good way to use them up (find the recipe on the South Leigh website here). Remember that you can freeze egg whites, singly or in multiples - remember to mark the freezer tub with how many egg whites - then use them whenever you need to, or have time to convert them into meringues, macaroons etc.
BAKED EGG CUSTARD WITH RHUBARB (Serves 6) This is good warm or cold, at any time of day - even breakfast! Don't miss out on wonderful spring rhubarb. Cooked in the oven it will stay beautifully pink. 600ml / 1 pint milk (full cream if you have it)
15g / ½ oz butter strip of lemon peel 2 whole eggs 2 egg yolks 1½ tblsps caster sugar grated nutmeg For the rhubarb: strips of orange peel 1kg / 2 lbs rhubarb, trimmed 100g / 4oz sugar
Preheat the oven to 180ºC / Gas 4.
Butter a 900ml / 1 pint oven-proof dish. In a saucepan, bring the milk and lemon rind to just below boiling point. Remove from the heat. Beat the whole eggs, yolks and sugar in a bowl, then pour over the hot milk, whisking all the time. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and sprinkle with grated nutmeg.
Place the dish in a deep roasting tin with about 2.5cm / 1 inch cold water around it. Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes or until the custard is set, with a hint of a wobble under the surface.
For the rhubarb: Cut the rhubarb into 3cm / 1½ inch lengths. Place in an oven-proof dish with a couple of strips of orange peel and the sugar. Cover tightly with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until soft and cooked.