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Black pudding stuffed chicken thighs with a cider reduction

I was recently gifted some of my favourite black pudding from home (Kelly's of Newport) so naturally I had to come up with various ways of using it other than in a good old full Irish breakfast. This recipe pairs the classic flavours of black pudding and apple in the cider sauce and also reminiscent of chicken normande too. This recipe will also work well with Dutch bloedworst, Spanish morcilla or French boudin noir. 

50g black pudding (you can also use bloedworst or boudin noir)
30g red onion finely chopped
2 chicken thighs skinned and bone removed
30g butter
Salt and pepper
5g dijon mustard
10ml creme fraiche
150ml cider (my preference is a French brut or English off dry cider)
3 sprigs thyme

In a pan on a low heat fry the onion off in 10g of  the butter until soft and glossy, place to one side and allow to cool
Flatten out the chicken thighs using a rolling pin, this makes them easier to fill and roll
In a bowl mash the cooled onion and black pudding together with a fork
Place around 15g of the black pudding mix in the centre of each chicken thigh and spread it out 
Roll the thigh into a cylinder, you can either tie it in place using butchers twine or wrap in cling film and roll tightly
Place in the fridge to firm up for a couple of hours
Add the rest of the butter to a pan and fry off the chicken thighs (if you have used cling film make sure you have removed it) on all sides to get some colour
Add the cider and the thyme to the pan
Place the pan in an oven at 180c (fan) 190c (normal) and cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until the centre reaches a core temp of 71c
If cooking this on the BBQ, set it up for indirect cooking at 190c and use a cast iron pan, cook for the same length of time as above, you can also use applewood chips
Once cooked place the chicken thighs to one side to rest and start to make the sauce in the pan they were cooked in 
Place the pan on the hob and reduce the cooking juices by half, turn the heat down and add the dijon and creme fraiche stir through using a whisk to break up any lumps
Slice the chicken thighs and serve with the sauce

Chocolate stout cake

This recipe came about as a friend gave me some of their porter/stout style beer. I found it a little too sweet for my taste and thought it could be put to better use in cooking. Rather than going down the usual route of using it for savoury in a stew, I thought it would pair well with chocolate in a cake.
150g salted butter
170g dark brown sugar
50g cocoa powder
200g self raising flour
2 eggs
150g chocolate (55%)
200ml stout

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
Add the eggs one by one and mix through, it may looked curdled but it will come together eventually
Place the chocolate and stout together in a bowl and place over a pan of simmering water, stir until all the chocolate has melted, place to one side and allow to cool slightly
Pour the chocolate and stout mix into the bowl with the eggs, sugar and butter
Fold in the flour and pour into a greased cake tin
Cook for 40 minutes at 190c or until a skewer comes out clean
Serve with a dollop of cream or vanilla ice cream

Ginger beer

We've been brewing our own ginger beer chez Kitchen Exile for several years now. The process for ginger beer is a little different from that of normal beer, it is not as laborious and doesn't take as long because of the yeast being used. 
We use a ginger beer plant to make ours. The Ginger Beer Plant consists of two different organisms, a yeast; Saccharomyces florentinus and a bacterium Lactobacillus hilgardii . We've bought out particular culture from The ginger beer plant website, one of the few places you can purchase a genuine culture. 

The ginger beer plant that you use is a living thing, similar to a starter dough, you need to ensure it is hydrated and fed regularly. It's not something you use once and throw away, once you've finished your brew, you place it in a jar and top up with water, add some sugar and a few drops of lemon juice, place the lid loosely on. You then keep feeding and refreshing it every day or two days until you want to use it for your next brew. Our ginger beer plant or "Yeastie" as we call it, has been going strong for several years now. 

You're probably wondering why I'm referring to we in this particle as normally all of my recipes I make myself. This has become one of the rare activities that involves my other half in the kitchen. And it is nice to do one or two kitchen activities together. I occasionally draft him in on commis chef duties when I'm pretty busy. 

This is the process that we go through to brew our beer, but do refer to the Ginger Beer Plant website as that will take you though the initial processes. Brewing can often be hit and miss depending on conditions and ingredients used. It took a while before we got our brew down to how we liked it, from the amount of sugar, to flavour to carbonation, all part of the process and fun working it all out over numerous brews

You do need some kit for the brew process; a 5 litre demi john, an airlock cap, funnel, sieve and plastic bottles for bottling the brew. Why plastic for bottling, I hear you ask. The brew when bottled starts to carbonate, if you use glass, the bottles can unexpectedly explode if too much pressure builds up. At least with plastic there is no dangerous mess. It's also a good way of re-using any plastic bottles in your house too, you do have to make sure they are scrupulously clean. When using plastic bottles ensure they are ones that have been used for fizzy drinks or water as they will be strong enough to hold the liquid, normal plastic bottles will crack or split under pressure.
Same goes for all equipment and surfaces as well as the ingredients. so enough waffling, here is the recipe that is used chez Kitchen Exile.

500g fresh ginger or more if you like (ensure that the ginger is smooth and not wrinkly)
Juice of 1 lemon
100g of sugar for each litre of water (we normally brew about 4 litres, so 400g)
Ginger beer plant

I like to juice the ginger but you can also grate the ginger and then squeeze the juice out if you don't have a juicer
Mix the sugar in the water and ensure it is dissolved
Add the gonger beer plant to the water
Add the lemon juice and ginger juice and pour into the demi john
Place the airlock cap on and let brew for a minimum of 3-4 days
You will notice that it will start to bubble up after a couple of days, the activity in the airlock cap will indicate that it is starting to work
As it brews, its starts to convert the sugars
After 4 days it should be ready for bottling, I advise doing a taste test as depending on how vigorous the initial brew process was, it may need a little more sugar depending on your taste
The bottling process is where the carbonation starts and depending on how fizzy you like your beer depends on how long you leave it, we tend to go for two days
When bottling you will need to use a funnel and a sieve, as you want to keep the ginger beer plant for your next brew 
To preserve the plant, place it in a jar and top up with water, add some sugar and a few drops of lemon juice, place the lid loosely on and keep it until your next brew
Leave a couple of inches free in each bottle, it makes it easier to open if there is too much carbonation
Place the lid on the bottles and place in a cupboard for a couple of days for secondary fermentation and carbonation to take place
When you want the carbonation to stop just place the bottles in the fridge
All that's left to do is to enjoy

Chicken and bacon burgers with chipotle coleslaw

Chicken thighs make great burgers, but can be a tad on the dull side side on their own. I like to add some smoked bacon to the mix for extra moisture and flavour. The coleslaw recipe is based on a Mexican slaw recipe I used to have at Wahaca restaurant in London, I've made a couple of tweaks, but its pretty near the recipe that they make. I sometimes vary the coleslaw depending on the season with either celery or fennel which goes well with the chicken. This recipe will also work really well with rabbit when in season. 

500g boneless and skinless chicken thighs (raw) minced
100g smoked streaky bacon (raw) minced
70g finely chopped spring onion or I use a mix of finely chopped garlic scapes and chives
5g freshly ground black pepper

I prefer to mince the thighs and bacon myself using the fine grind setting on my mincer
Mix all burger ingredients together and form into burger patties, this should make about 4 good sized burgers
There is no need to season the burgers with salt as the bacon already has enough in it
When cooking the burger I like to use the cast iron grid and cook direct at 200c for about 5 minutes each side or until the core temp reaches 71c
To avoid too much charring, keep flipping the burger every couple of minutes or so
Allow to rest before serving

200g white cabbage finely sliced
1 red onion finely sliced
Juice of 2 limes
200g carrot julienned
100g celery finely sliced or 100g fennel bulb finely sliced
1 apple peeled and julienned (granny smith)

70ml mayonnaise
10ml chipotle in adobo paste
5g smoked paprika powder
5g dried oregano
Half a clove of garlic
Salt and pepper

About an hour before making the coleslaw, place the onions and apple in a bowl and pour over half the lime juice, place to one side in the fridge
Steep the garlic in just boiled water for 30 minutes to take off the rawness 
In a larger bowl, add the cabbage, carrot and celery, pour over the rest of the lime juice and season with the salt and pepper, stir to mix
Add the onion and apple and mix thoroughly

To make the dressing, mix all the ingredients together bar the garlic, in a small bowl
Grate or mince the garlic into the bowl and stir through
Season to taste with the salt and pepper

About 30 minutes before serving pour the dressing over the coleslaw and mix through
You can serve this on the side or as a burger topping

Mussels in cider

The mussel season has started a little earlier this year. Here in the Netherlands they are often referred to as black gold. The bulk of mussels come from Zeeland in the south of the Netherlands. They are slightly smaller than the Atlantic mussels that I grew up with in the west of Ireland, but are pretty tasty too. If you have a good product there's no point in going overboard with flavours. Traditional moules mariniere is cooked with white wine, I like to go with cider which is more Breton or Norman in style, you can use English cider too if you like .

200ml dry cider 
2 shallots finely chopped
1 clove garlic finely chopped
50g unsalted butter
1 sprig fresh tarragon or 2g dried
50g creme fraiche 
1kg mussels

Clean the mussels and remove any detritus, if the mussels are open, tap and see if they will close, if they remain open discard, similarly discard any that are broken or cracked
In a large pan, fry the shallots and garlic on a low heat in the butter until soft and glossy
Once cooked, add the cider and bring to the boil for one minute to cook out the alcohol
Lower the heat to medium, add the tarragon and the mussels, place a lid on and cook until the mussels have opened (roughly 7-10 minutes)
Remove the mussels to one side, discarding any that may not have opened and place somewhere to keep warm
Strain the cooking juices into a bowl to get rid of any silt that may have come from the mussels and pour the strained juices back into the pan
Reduce the cooking juices by half, lower the heat and stir through the creme fraiche
Take off the heat, add the mussels and place the pan in the middle of your table and let people help themselves

Spanish style tortilla with potatoes and black pudding

This recipe is influenced by the traditional tortilla de morcilla. For this dish I'm using black pudding in place of the morcilla sausage. A friend kindly brought me some of my favourite Kelly's black pudding from his trip to Ireland so I decided to use it for this recipe. It isn't much of a diversion from the original dish, as morcilla is the Spanish equivalent of black pudding, but the spicing and some of the ingredients will differ from the Irish to the Spanish sausage. 
If any of you wish to go traditional and use morcilla sausage instead then that is not a problem either!

2 medium sized onions roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic finely sliced
4 eggs
150g black pudding roughly chopped into small pieces
4 medium sized potatoes peeled and sliced into 2cm chunks
60ml olive oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste

To make this you will need a small frying pan or cast iron skillet (22cm), as this will help the tortilla keep its shape

In the pan fry off the onions and garlic in about 10ml of oil on a low heat until they are soft and glossy
Remove the onion with a slotted spoon to a plate, leave the excess oil in the pan
Place the potatoes in the pan and add the rest of the oil, turn up to a medium heat and cover with a lid
Cook the potatoes for about 7-10 mins until you can pierce them easily with a knife
Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and place to one side with the onions
Pour off the majority of the oil and leave about 10ml in the pan, add the black pudding and brown on each side for 1 minute
Remove from the pan and add to the plate with the onions and potatoes
Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk to combine
Add the potato, onions and black pudding and mix thoroughly, season with salt and pepper
Add the mixture back into the pan and place in the oven at 180c (normal) 170c (fan) for 25 mins or until the eggs have set
If cooking on the BBQ, set it up for indirect cooking at 180c and cook for 30 minutes
Allow to cool slightly and turn out onto a plate to serve

Honey, herb and citrus spatchcock chicken

I love simple dishes such as this, a good organic chicken marinaded in herbs from the garden, simply roasted on the BBQ and I'm a very happy lady! I've also included garlic scapes, which are available his time of year if you grow your own garlic. These are the green shoots that you see and taste really good too. You can use normal garlic in place of them. 

1 chicken 
10g fresh chives
5g fresh tarragon
10g garlic scapes or 4 cloves of garlic
10g oregano leaves
3 sage leaves
10g rosemary leaves
1 fresh bay leaf
10g fresh parsley
70ml rapeseed oil
10ml lemon juice
10ml orange juice
20ml honey
Zest of one lemon and zest and half an orange
Salt and pepper

To spatchcock the chicken, turn the bird breast side down and remove the backbone with poultry scissors
Turn the bird breast side up and push down to flatten it
Score the breast, legs and thighs with a knife to allow the marinade to penetrate
Finely chop all the herbs
In a bowl add the zest and juice of the orange and lemon, the herbs, honey and the rapeseed oil, mix together
Place the chicken in a roasting tray and pour over the marinade, allow to marinade for at least 6 hours in the fridge
Set your BBQ up for direct cooking, at 180c with some oak chips
Take the chicken out of the fridge and allow to come to room temp
Allow the thick white smoke to die down before starting to cook
Take the chicken out of the roasting tray and place skin side down on the BBQ and cook for 15 minutes to get a nice char
Turn the chicken so it is bone side down on the griddle, pour over any excess marinade
Cook for a further 60 minutes until the breasts or thighs register 65c core temp (the cooking time may vary if you have a large chicken)
Once cooked, put in a warm place to rest for 15 minutes
Serve with a crisp salad and pour over the resting juices