I was surprised to hear that despite the recession the number of people eating out has shot up in the UK. I’m not sure whether this is people visiting places like Pret for a snack or proper sit down eating out with napkins, main courses and hovering waiters.
Danny and I rarely eat out. Perhaps twice a year at most. It’s not that it’s expensive (although 35 quid for pizzas and a couple of beers was shocking) it’s because it’s often disappointing in this neck of the woods.
So good food has to be cooked at home. Two things that I’ve learnt over the years is that it doesn’t have to be a palaver or cost a lot. If you buy smart – there is always meat on offer, or marked down for a quick sale you can eat well for far less than a price of a sandwich. A shopping list for meat is not a good move – much better to duck and dive with special offers.
Years ago when I started to get interested in cooking at home I used to take a few cookbooks in the car when I went shopping. I’d breeze into the shops – find what was on offer and then stroll out to the car to peruse the books for recipes.
Now, with a bit more experience I have a few standby ingredients in the larder that I know will eventually come into their own. One key ingredient is a small tin of apricots in fruit juice. This humble tin can transform, duck, pork, chicken and lamb into something really memorable. I’d like to try it with partridge too.
Danny found some chicken legs marked down at Waitrose and I decided to give them the duck in apricot sauce treatment. This dish is so easy and tastes very classy, as if you have spent hours tweaking the flavours. I baked it in Andrew (the highest rack and collar on) and served it with basmati rice and broccoli. Yummy.
Chicken legs baked with apricots and garlic (for two)
2 chicken legs
1 small tin of apricots in fruit juice (not syrup as it would be too sweet)
4-6 chunky garlic cloves (skin on)
Half a teaspoon of dried thyme
Put the chicken legs in a small ovenproof dish (to fit snugly)
Sprinkle over the thyme
Pour over the apricots and juice and push the apricots in between the chicken legs
Press the garlic cloves around the legs
Cover the dish with a lid or a piece of foil
Bake for an hour at 210c/190c fan
Remove the foil and bake for a further hour until the legs are nicely browned and the flesh tender
Liquidise or mash the apricots and juice
Serve on warm place with rice or couscous, the baked garlic cloves and fresh green vegetables.
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