July 18, 2024


Food & Travel Enthusiast

Nigel Slater’s recipes for chicken and soy sauce, and for hazelnut trifle | Food

Nigel Slater’s recipes for chicken and soy sauce, and for hazelnut trifle | Food

There is treasure in the fridge. Pieces of chicken in a dark, sweet and salty marinade ready to roast; a bowl of trifle, its layers of sponge, cream and hazelnuts resting quietly – a treat for later – and a bottle of something sparkling for tomorrow. None of this is purely for practical reasons. Both the chicken and the trifle are all the better for a night in the cold. Time for the soy and mirin marinade to work its magic on the chicken; and the trifle, like many other puddings, always seems better when it has had time to think – the layers merging softly into one another overnight.

St Valentine’s Day (tomorrow in case you have forgotten) is hideously commercial nowadays, but it is what it is, and the middle of February feels like the perfect time to concoct a celebration. So there will be chicken, hot and glossy from the oven, tossed with lightly cooked purple spouting and very much the best of the vegetables around – followed by a bowl of trifle generous enough to also provide breakfast the following day.

Spontaneity has long been one of my favourite ingredients in the kitchen, but coming home to dinner half prepared is not bad either. I sometimes wonder why I don’t do it more often. That said, both of today’s recipes can be made the day you need them. But giving those layers of mascarpone and soft sponge, cream and Irish liqueur time to get acquainted will inevitably lead to good things.

Chicken, purple sprouting and dark soy sauce

I use large, free-range thighs here – they take to marinating well. If you prefer breast meat then use one large or two smaller ones per person. Make sure you buy them with the skin on as it offers something of the succulence missing in white meat. If purple sprouting isn’t available, use long-stemmed green broccoli instead. Shichimi togarashi is available at major supermarkets, Japanese food shops and online. Serves 2

dark soy sauce 2 tbsp
mirin 2 tbsp
toasted sesame oil 1 tbsp
lemon juice 2 tbsp
shichimi togarashi ½ tsp
chicken thighs 4, large
purple sprouting 150g

In a mixing bowl, stir together the soy sauce, mirin, toasted sesame oil, lemon juice and shichimi togarashi seasoning.

Push the chicken down into the marinade. Set aside for an hour or more. (I leave them overnight sometimes.)

Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Put the chicken and its marinade into a roasting tin or baking dish, then bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Baste occasionally with marinade and turn the chicken over once during cooking so each side gets a chance to lightly brown.

While the chicken cooks, put a pan of water on to boil. Wash and trim the purple sprouting, drop it into the boiling water and cook for 3 or 4 minutes until the stems are just tender, then drain.

Put the pieces of chicken on a serving plate or divide between dishes, toss the purple sprouting in the chicken roasting juices, then add, together with any juices from the pan, to the chicken. You could sprinkle a little more shichimi togarashi over the top if you wish.

Coffee cream hazelnut trifle

‘Do not stir – just watch the sugar melt and become pale gold in colour’: coffee cream hazelnut trifle.
‘Do not stir – just watch the sugar melt and become pale gold in colour’: coffee cream hazelnut trifle. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

It is easier to get an evenly toasted nut by baking rather than toasting them in a pan on the hob, though either way will work. If the oven is on anyway, then I tend to bake them. Serves 6

For the praline:
hazelnuts 125g, skinned
caster sugar 125g

For the sponge layer:
plain sponge cake 350g
hot espresso coffee 150ml
Baileys Irish Cream 150ml

For the cream layer:
double cream 150ml
mascarpone 250g
icing sugar 30g
Baileys Irish Cream 50ml

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Put the skinned hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. They will turn a deep gold.

If you prefer, toast them in a shallow pan over a moderate heat, regularly tossing them around so they colour evenly. Keep a close eye on the hazelnuts until they are pale gold. Lightly oil a baking sheet.

If you have baked the nuts, now transfer them to a shallow pan. Scatter the sugar over the nuts, lower the heat and let it melt. Do not stir – just watch the sugar melt and become pale gold in colour. Gently move the hazelnuts occasionally with a spoon to check the progress of the sugar, but avoid too much movement in the pan. When the caramel is deep golden, stir the nuts gently and tip them immediately on to the oiled tray. Leave to cool.

Break the sponge cake into small pieces and put them in the bottom of a serving bowl. Pour over the coffee and the coffee cream liqueur and set aside in a cool place for 30 minutes.

Make the coffee cream: whip the cream until just thick enough to keep its shape. Stir in the mascarpone, taking care not to overmix, then stir in the icing sugar and Baileys Irish Cream.

Remove slightly less than half of the sugared hazelnuts from the tray and blitz them in a food processor until they appear like coarse crumbs. Fold them into the mascarpone mixture, then tip it on top of the coffee-soaked sponges. Smooth the top, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for a good 5 hours – preferably overnight.

Set the rest of the sugared hazelnuts aside. About an hour before you want to eat the dessert, roughly crush the remaining nuts – a texture akin to coarse gravel is about right – and scatter them over the top.

Follow Nigel on Twitter @NigelSlater