I recently reviewed Jane Lovett’s book, Make it Easy: Delicious get-ahead recipes for happy home cooking, for The Good Web Guide and immediately resolved to try one of the recipes. Jane is a cookery writer from Northumberland, who also gives demonstrations around the country, and her book – complete with handy hints on preparing each recipe in advance – is perfect for those trying to squeeze in cooking around a busy life.
We had a couple of friends round last week so I thought I’d give Jane’s delectable sounding Vietnamese herby chicken with nutty green rice a whirl. Following Jane’s advice, I marinated the chicken the evening before, leaving time for the herbs and spices to infuse, and cooked it up along with the rice the following evening. By preparing the bulk of the dish in advance, I had time to tidy up, sort out the music and even read my book for a bit before our friends arrived, which gave the impression of effortless domestic goddessdom.
The recipe itself worked brilliantly, with the garlicky, fragrant chicken going down a storm alongside the nutty green rice. The only amendments I made were to have some mange-tout on the side and to use three chicken thighs per person instead of two. This left enough for my lunch the next day (and it was just as good cold). Here’s the recipe.
Jane Lovett’s Vietnamese herby chicken with nutty green rice salad*
Vietnamese food is defined by the freshness of its ingredients and as a result is light, healthy and very flavoursome. Marinated chicken crops up on menus and as street food everywhere and this recipe is adapted from one I was given whilst visiting the country. Very easy to make and delicious accompanied by the verdant Nutty Green Rice Salad which can be served hot or cold.
For the chicken:
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped or pre-prepared from a jar
1 tsp pouring salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves of garlic, peeled & roughly chopped
handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
handful of fresh coriander, chopped
2 limes, zest & juice
8 chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and any excess skin
natural yoghurt to serve
For the rice:
225 g (8 oz) Basmati & wild rice mixed
450 ml (16 fl oz) chicken or vegetable stock (or use a cube)
salt & freshly ground black pepper
4 spring onions, chopped
2 sticks of celery, stringy bits removed and diced
a handful of cashew nuts, toasted & roughly chopped
a handful of pine nuts, toasted
a handful each of fresh coriander, mint & parsley leaves
1. Using a small grinder, processor or pestle and mortar make a paste with the coriander seeds, ginger, salt, pepper and garlic. Add 1 tbsp vegetable oil and process or pound again. If using a processor, tip the paste into a small bowl and then stir in the mint, coriander and lime zest and juice.
2. Slash each chicken thigh twice right through the skin and into the meat. I use scissors for this. Put the thighs into a bowl or zip-lock bag and smear all over with the marinade. Refrigerate overnight, turning once if you remember.
3. Remove the chicken from the fridge at least an hour before cooking. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F) Gas Mark 7.
4. Spread the thighs out in a roasting tin or ovenproof dish, skin side up, reserving the remaining marinade. Scatter some sea salt over the top and cook for 35 minutes until golden brown and charred in places.
5. Check after 25 minutes and if browning too fast, either reduce the temperature or cover loosely with a piece of tin foil for the final 10 minutes. If not browning pour off the liquid into the reserved marinade and return to the oven for the final 10 minutes. Remove from the tin and keep warm.
6. Meanwhile, put the rice into a saucepan with the stock and ½ tsp salt. Bring up to the boil, stir, cover and simmer very gently for 15 – 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
7. Put the spring onions, celery, cashews and pine nuts into a mixing bowl, add the rice and mix everything together well.
8. Chop the herbs finely – I like to do this in a herb chopper as when chopped this way they turn the rice vivid green – and add to the rice and mix well. Moisten with a little olive oil. Finally, check the seasoning – it should be very flavoursome.
9. Remove any badly charred bits from the roasting tin and skim off any fat. Add the reserved marinade to the cooking juices and a little extra water. Bring up to the boil, scraping the bits off the bottom and bubble for 2-3 minutes. Check the seasoning, pour into a jug and serve with the chicken, Green Nutty Rice Salad and a bowl of natural yoghurt.
Marinate the chicken up to a day in advance. Cook the rice up to a day in advance and stir in the vegetables and nuts. Cool, cover and keep in the fridge. Add the finely chopped herbs just before serving. If serving hot, be sure to re-heat very thoroughly.
Hints and tips
This allows for two chicken thighs per person. To extend to six people use another three or four thighs but there is no need to up the marinade. The rice will happily feed six as well.
* Taken from Make it Easy by Jane Lovett, New Holland 2012, £19.99. Buy from Amazon.
* Visit Jane Lovett’s website and find out more about her cookery demos here.