Delia Smith's Winter Collection
MARCH 26 2012

Dinner tonight featured a monster of a chicken, raised by a friend, that had been hogging space in the freezer for far too long. The very well-endowed roaster contributed two of the largest chicken breasts I have ever seen; each literally the length of my forearm! All I needed tonight was the breast meat, so I cut up the rest for a future recipe and turned the bones into a lovely, rich stock. Perfect!

I cut the breasts into large chunks and marinated them overnight in a pungent mix of lemon, garlic, rosemary and olive oil. After only one night, the aromatics had clearly permeated the meat and I had faith this wouldn't be a regular, boring chicken dish. As my stock slowly simmers, I get to work skewering the chicken, onions and bay leaves. I may not be a "stressed, overworked woman" but I will take Delia's suggestion to enjoy "something that includes the sound of ice tinkling on glass" while I work.

chicken and onions marinated overnight

chicken skewered and ready for the "grill"

Accompanying our chicken skewers would be the lentils in the recipe plus mustard-maple glazed parsnips. I love, love, love parsnips and have so been looking forward to doing this recipe. First steam them until just tender, then roast at a high temp until nice and browned. Finally, they are tossed with a 1:1 mix of grainy mustard and maple syrup then given a few more minutes in the oven to acquire a wicked glaze. Smells amazing!

steamed parsnips

soaking up the mustard/maple glaze... yummm.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to time the chicken because it needs to "grill" (i.e. broil) at the same time the parsnips are roasting. They end up taking turns and it works out quite well. Except, 20 minutes of broiling is far too long for the chicken and, unfortunately, it comes out of the oven overcooked and a bit tough. The bright lemony flavors from the marinade do make up for some of the dryness so it's still tasty and we eat it up.

Luckily, the parsnips rock! Golden and caramelized with a bite from the mustard and a sweet note from the maple syrup. This side dish is a keeper. The lentils aren't too bad either. A little al dente, but have good flavor and they pair well with the chicken. Overall, a tasty and satisfying dinner.

dinner is served! lemony chicken, lentils and glazed parsnips.

The stock I didn't need today, but will freeze it in small portions and I'm sure it will come in handy for a future recipe. I really prefer having homemade stock on hand. I've even started saving the trimmings from good, flavorful veggies like carrots, onions and parsley stems in the freezer to make my stock even more economical and reduce waste. So, I didn't exactly follow Delia's recipe, but I think it counts and I have no doubt it will taste just as fabulous!


Serves 2

This recipe is for the stressed, overworked man or woman who still wants to eat real food when they finally get home. All you do is shove the chicken in the marinade, go off to have a nice relaxing shower, followed by something that includes the sound of ice tinkling on glass, and then, when you're finally ready for supper, it will only take about 40 minutes. On the other hand, if you have time, marinate it for longer – or even the night before.

2 - 6 oz boneless chicken breasts, skin on
Grated zest of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, bruised and finely chopped
1 medium red onion, halved
2 bay leaves, snipped in half
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 small open-cap mushrooms
Salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the lentils:
5 oz Puy lentils
1 dessertspoon extra virgin olive oil
8 fl oz red or white wine or water
A fresh rosemary sprig
Salt and freshly milled black pepper

To garnish:
Fresh flat-leaf parsley


Begin by cutting each chicken breast into 5 evenly sized pieces and place these in a bowl. Then cut one half of the onion into quarters (reserve the other half for the lentils) and separate into layers, adding them to the chicken, along with the rest of the ingredients and a seasoning of salt and pepper. Now give everything a good mixing, cover with a cloth and go away and leave it in a cool place for at least half an hour.

While you are marinating the chicken, if you are using wooden skewers you need to soak them for 30 minutes in hot water (to prevent them burning). Then when you're ready to cook the chicken, pre-heat the grill for 10 minutes to its highest setting and set the grill tray 4 inches from the element. Next, see to the lentils. Just chop the other half of the onion finely, heat the oil in a medium saucepan, fry the onion for about 5 minutes, then stir in the lentils, making sure they get a good coating of oil. Then add the liquid and sprig of rosemary. Put on a lid and let the lentils simmer gently for about 30-40 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed.

To cook the chicken, thread the pieces on the skewer, putting half a bay leaf first, then a mushroom, next a piece of chicken, then a piece of onion, finishing with the other mushroom and the other half of the bay leaf. Then, keeping the skin side of the chicken pieces upwards, lay the skewers on the grill rack, with a dish underneath to catch the juices. Season them well, then grill for 20 minutes, turning once and basting with the marinade juices once or twice. When the chicken is ready, taste and season the lentils the salt and a little freshly milled black pepper and arrange them on warm serving plates. Slide the chicken, onion and bay leaf off the skewers between the prongs of a fork, then spoon the warm basting juices over everything. Garnish with flat-leaf parsley and serve with the lentils and a green salad.


Serves 4 - 6

This is a good combination of flavours, and a nice alternative to plain roast parsnips.

3 lb medium parsnips
2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons groundnut oil
Salt and freshly milled black pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 475F.

First, top, tail and peel the parsnips, then cut them in half through the centre. Cut the top halves into 4 and the bottom halves into 2 so that you have even-sized pieces. Cut out any woody stems from the centre, then place the parsnips in a steamer, sprinkle with salt, cover with a lid and steam over simmering water for 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the baking tray, with the oil in it, on the top shelf of the oven to pre-heat. When the parsnips are ready, use an oven glove to remove the tray carefully from the oven so as not to spill the oil, and place it over direct heat turned to low. Now add the parsnips, rounded side up, to the sizzling oil. Then tilt the tray and use a large spoon to base the parsnips, to make sure they are evenly coated with oil. Give them a good grinding of pepper and return the tray to the oven.

Bake for 25 minutes, by which time the parsnips should be nicely browned and crispy. Mix the mustard and maple syrup together. Then, using a brush, coat the parnsip pieces with a liberal coating of the mustard and maple syrup mixture and return them to the oven for 8-10 minutes. Serve straightaway.


1 set of chicken giblets
1 stick of celery, cut in half and split lengthways
2 small carrots, split lengthways
2 small onions, sliced
2 bay leaves
12 black peppercorns
1 small bunch of parsley stalks and celery leaves
Pinch of salt


Place the giblets and the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan with 2 pints cold water, cover and bring to the boil. Boil it briskly for 1 hour, then strain, discarding the giblets and vegetables.

If you can't get hold of chicken giblets, use a couple of chicken wing tips instead. 

These recipes are taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Web Analytics