This week in Mrs Wils’ kitchen

Good morning faithful blog readers!

First things first – I deeply apologise for the lack of posts this week. Unfortunately, the day job was keeping me extra busy and left me with barely enough time for cooking let alone blogging! So todays post will be a quick summary of the Neil Perry dishes that I whipped up this week.

Pea and Pumpkin Risotto 

As promised to my work buddy, Jane, I prepared a hearty vegetarian dish to please those who prefer not to eat anything with a face. I personally don’t have a problem really with eating animals but I will, however, soon learn (in the next recipe) that I do have a problem with dealing with certain whole animals. Anyway, this is not my first time making a risotto but it is my first time making it the “proper” way. My previous attempts at risotto have been using recipes that were found when “Quick risotto recipe” was googled and usually involves a rice cooker (I think I just actually heard Neil Perry gasp in horror). So here I am armed with my arborio rice and faceless vegetables ready to get down to business.

Firstly, I had to boil the pumpkin which served a double purpose; cooking said pumpkin and creating the pumpkin stock (aka. pumpkiny water). Neil says I could have also used chicken stock but I didn’t want buy chicken stock as he recommends making your own (a recipe for which is included in the book) but I honestly wanted to make this truly vego so pumpkiny water it was!

Next I had to cook my peas. I am firm believer in frozen peas as they are snap frozen when picked so are usually fresher than the fresh peas. So I grab a cup frozen green little orbs and chuck them into a pot of boiling water until they are just done. I then have to throw them into some ice water so they stop cooking and stay perfect.

At this point the camera ran out of battery power (oh yeah, we are a professional outfit) so I had to yell out to Willy to get it on charge before I finish.

While Willy was actioning the charging of said dead camera battery, I was the frying up some red onion, garlic and sea salt until it was sweating and up my nose. Then I added in the arborio rice until it became opaque and started sticking to the pan. In went some wine and cooked up till it absorbed. Followed by his mate, pumpkiny water. Not all of pumpkiny went in though, just enough to cover the rice. I then basically just let it do its thing, simmering away, and only stepped in occasionally to stir a little and add slowly, bit by bit, more pumpkiny water. Neil says to me, its very important not to “drown the rice” or it will lose it’s risotto-y texture. After about 20 minutes of doing this, I added in the pumpkin and peas, some butter (of course) and parmesan. I let it rest for a bit as it was quite tired from all that work. I sprinkled it with some parsley before serving. Easy Peas-y Hearty Vego Cuisine? CHECK.

Vego readers – look away now! Things are about to get NASTY…

Butterflied Chicken with Ricotta and Garlic Stuffing 

I love chicken. I love the wings, legs, breasts, thighs and the skin. It is so versatile and gets used in a variety of dishes in our house. This is the first time EVER that I have had to prepare chicken this way and I soon learn that I don’t like it. AT ALL. It involves the breaking of bones and the stuffing of skin. This is a little bit too up close and personal for me. I mean, have you ever seen the inside of a chicken?

Before I could stuff the chicken, I had to make the stuff.

I put the garlic and some sea salt in my old M&P and pounded it was paste-like. In went the onion and it got a little pounding too. I then mixed through some butter, parsley, chives, lemon juice and ricotta.

So far so good.

The next step was not captured on camera due to the nature of what was about to take place. Kids, don’t try this at home.

Victim? Chook. Task? Butterflying. In order to butterfly a whole chicken, you must cut down the backbone and push gently down on the breast until it slowly starts to flatten out. In essence, you are slicing the chook open and pushing it flat. When slicing the chook open, you get to see what’s going on inside. I was surprised by my instant gag reflex when I saw its whole little skeleton fully intact as if it were once a living and breathing animal that walked and sqwaked (which of course it never was as it was generated at that mystical place where they make all frozen animals). I then had to go through the awful process of snapping it’s tiny little bones while flattening it out. Crack, crack, crack. It was heart wrenching.

Once I had successfully butterflied, I had to take a little break as it was all a bit too much. The next bit was photographed by Willy while he exclaimed “Oh babe, that is GROSS. Seriously… Uugghhh. What are you doing to that poor chicken??!”

Yup. It was as easy as grabbing the stuff and shoving under the pre-loosened skin with my bare hands. I felt like some sick chook serial killer.

Once evenly stuffed, I rubbed her down in olive oil and salt and chucked her in the oven.

While our poor old stuffed chook roasted away, I made some roasted tots and steamed asparagus to go on the side. When the chook was done in oven, I took her out and let her rest under some foil for half an hour. After all, she had been through an ordeal.

We then ate her.

She tasted glorious. The stuffing was to die for. Creamy yet fresh thanks to the lemon juice and herbs. It complimented the chicken flesh perfectly. However, I don’t think I will ever butterfly a chicken ever again.