Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The chicken or the egg?

Or both..

When I made my chicken creole the other day, I found that there was more than enough chicken for the casserole, so I set aside a cupful for use in a chicken loaf (p138), which appears to be a recipe designed for using up leftover chicken. Unsurprisingly, it's just like a meatloaf, except you mix chicken with the sausage meat instead of mince. And there's a couple of hard-boiled eggs in the middle.

I didn't need a full packet of sausage meat, so, mindful of my budget, I went to a butcher and asked for only 200g. This was clearly an unusual request, because the butcher seemed to have trouble understanding what I wanted. I'd almost resigned myself to buying the full packet when she finally understood and and got the 200g for me - for the massive price of $1.

The other main ingredient in the loaf is parsley. I hadn't bought any, so I nicked some out of my neighbour's garden. Oops, that sounded bad: it's actually a garden for the whole block of flats, but Vera is the only one of us who bothers growing stuff in it. She wouldn't mind me grabbing a little parsley, especially since at this time of year it was in pretty poor condition. But hey, you work with what you've got. It ended up being chopped so small that you wouldn't notice anyway.

So the chicken went into the food processor with an onion, and once they were chopped up good and fine, I added the rest: sausage meat, tomato sauce, parsley, seasoning and an egg. There should actually have been 2 eggs, but since I also had to put in 2 hard-boiled ones, using four of the five eggs I had in my fridge seemed a bit decadent, considering I wouldn't be able to buy more for a couple of weeks. I put in one and hoped it was enough to bind.
While I was mixing up the rest of the ingredients, I had a couple of eggs hard-boiling on the stove. As usual, one of them cracked the moment I put it in the water. One of these days I'll get the hang of boiling eggs. (Yes, I do see the irony of a person who can't boil an egg trying to cook an entire cookbook) When they were done and cooled enough to peel, I was ready to assemble my meatloaf.

You start by putting half the mix in the tin, then you press the hard-boiled eggs into the mix (whole) and cover them over with the rest of the mixture. I didn't have the 18cm loaf tin specified in the recipe, and had to make do with my larger one. This meant that the filling was spread a little too shallowly, and it was a struggle to get the eggs covered over, but I did the best I could.

While the chicken loaf was in the oven, I put some potatoes on to boil, and stuck a steamer over the top of my spud pot with some carrot and a bit of broccoli I bought at some stage last week,  but never got around to using.

The chicken loaf was a bit difficult to cut neatly, but eventually I got a few bits on my plate. The portion I allotted myself took about 1/3 of the loaf - and it was hardly a massive portion. I'd say "serves 4-6" is a bit unrealistic.

It wasn't very exciting, but with a few veges, it was a perfectly good meal. I actually liked it better than the scotch eggs I made a few weeks ago, which were similar, but without the chicken. All in all, not a bad way to use up leftover chicken.

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