Posted: 30 Apr 2014

Gourmet Girlfriend Ruth Bruten5 tasty ideas
for chicken

Feeding five kids is never easy, but home cook extraordinaire Ruth Bruten has a few tricks up her colourful sleeves.

With one humble chook, Ruth easily feeds her family of seven – and now she’s teaching everyone else how to do it. Ruth (AKA blogger Gourmet Girlfriend) is hosting three-hour chook masterclasses at Prahran’s Hobba cafe on April 30 & June 4 from 6.30pm (for the bargain price of $55).

Ruth’s One Chicken – Eight Dishes masterclass is organised by Steps Australia, which is branching out from hospitality industry training to also offer short courses for food lovers. Here’s a taste of Ruth’s finger-lickin’ chicken…

1. Southern-style chicken + apple/raddichio slaw

As the weather cools so does our desire for comfort food. My kids love this recipe. So do I. My hope is that you will never buy the take away version of this again. You can deep fry,, but I oven bake on a rack and get great results. The slaw is a lovely accompaniment but so would be some gorgeous mash.

1kg organic chicken thighs
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground sumac
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove crushed garlic
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 cup plain flour
For the slaw…
3 green apples, shredded
5 raddichio leaves, sliced very fine
2 tbs capers
3 tbs white vinegar
1 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180C. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients & spices.
Pat each chicken thigh dry. Place buttermilk & garlic into a bowl. Dip each thigh into the buttermilk first and then the spiced flour & panko. (You may wish to pan fry in a little oil first to get the rich brown and then transfer to oven to finish off cooking and add crunch, although it is not necessary). Place on a roasting tray with a wire tray (this is important as it allows the fat form the chicken to surround the pieces and stay crispy). Once all pieces are done place into oven for half an hour. Remove from oven and turn pieces over. Return to oven and cook for further 15 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking you can make the slaw by combining the liquid ingredients and salt/pepper. Combine the apple & raddichio and then add the capers. Mix dressing through.
Serve chicken with a quarter of lime.

2. Caramel cashew chicken + Asian slaw

This dish was an attempt to replicate something one of my fussy eaters had eaten and loved at an earlier restaurant outing. He is quite a fussy eater and I was amazed at him eating this dish. He read the description on the menu, I let him order it and he devoured it – much to my surprise. He loved my version too (phew). This can be served as a warm coleslaw style salad but is equally delicious just serving the chicken on rice with some steamed greens on the side. I made the leftovers into an amazing Japanese okonomiyaki pancake for breakfast the next day.

1kg chicken thigh, sliced pretty finely
1 cup roasted whole cashew nuts
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
5 tbs fish sauce
1/2 cup potato starch (asian grocers sell this)
1 heaped tbs of my Salt & Pepper spice mix
3 whole star anise
3 whole spring onion
3 inch knob ginger- sliced into large chunky slices
3 cloves garlic
1 extra cup water
1/4 wombok cabbage, sliced super fine (as if you are slicing it for coleslaw)
1/4 purple cabbage sliced super fine
300g bean sprouts, washed well
2 carrots shredded (or grated)
1 bunch fresh coriander

In a very large bowl add all the cabbage, bean sprouts, carrot & fresh coriander and toss well to combine. Set aside. Put the potato flour and the spice mix in another large bowl and toss the sliced chicken in this mix until it is well coated. Place the star anise, spring onion, garlic, ginger, roasted cashews and fish sauce into a bowl ready to use later. In a non stick pan gently heat oil to medium/high heat & fry off the pieces till brown (they will get cooked through in the caramel sauce so don’t stress about whether it is entirely cooked). Remove and set aside.
Now you need to make the caramel using the 1 cup sugar and 2 cups water. Once the caramel has started to turn add the chicken and the bowl with the star anise etc into it and stir well.  It may turn to toffee as you add ingredients – don’t panic. Add the extra cup of water and turn down the heat and cook for about 10-15 minutes. Now using a slotted spoon remove the chicken and cashew to the cabbage mix (remove any of the other added ingredients), add the desired amount of caramel sauce and stir through well.
Serve on individual plates or on a large plate at the table for guests to help themselves.

3. Chicken, fennel + orange soup

Winter seems to have hit early. Soups are happening a lot here. I love them. They tend to be the kind of  ‘a bit o’ this and a bit o’ that’ recipe that I love. No hard and fast rules except using great ingredients. This was a bit of an experiment. And me oh my what a ripper. The orange imparts this lovely fresh zing to the anise flavour of the fennel. It is both comforting and refreshing. Easy and super delish. My kids loved it and took the leftovers in a Thermos for lunch.

1 whole organic chicken
4 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 bulb fennel, sliced fine
3 potatoes, cubed
Bunch of Italian parsley, including the stalks, finely chopped
1 orange, cut 3 large pieces of rind and also the juice
2 tsp fennel seeds
Water to cover the chook
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Heat a large pot on the stove to medium. Add a splosh of olive oil. Add onion, garlic, fresh fennel & seeds, orange rind and parsley. Fry till onions are translucent. Now add the carrot and stir for a couple of minutes. Now place the whole chook on top. Pour enough water to just cover and add diced potatoes and plenty of salt and pepper. Cook gently for an hour. Remove chook and take all the meat off the bone. Place back into the pot. Add the juice of the orange. Stir through and bring back to simmer. Serve with good crusty bread.

4. Indian green curry

I really love cooking curries. Curry is probably my ultimate comfort food. There are literally hundreds of curries out there – it totally depends on how I feel as to what sort of curry I cook. At first glance it may seem like a lot of work as the ingredient list is large but if you have these things in your cupboard there are actually very few steps to make a truly delicious meal. This curry is like that – lots of ingredients at first glance but actually pretty easy. A lot of people don’t realise that there are a plethora of Indian curries out there that we don’t know of beyond the vindaloo & butter chicken at your local.

1 bunch fresh coriander (make sure you wash the bunch very well as you are using the entire thing roots and all – the roots are packed with flavour)
3 whole spring onions
5 cloves garlic
2 inch piece of ginger
1-3 fresh red chillies
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp black peppercorns
2 cloves
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
3 cardamom pods
Salt and pepper
3 tbs almond meal
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup of cream
2 tbs rice bran oil (or other heat tolerant oil)
1kg chicken (I prefer to use chook with bones as you will get a superior flavour but any cut of your choice will do)

Blitz the spices in a spice grinder (or use pre-ground spices). Add the bunch of coriander, garlic, ginger, spring onions, chillies, almond meal and spices. Blitz till a paste. In a heavy pan add the oil and heat to medium. Add the spice paste and cook for about 5 minutes or until you see the oil begin to separate. Add the chicken and stir well to coat with spice paste. Add the tin of tomatoes. Stir through, bring to a simmer and turn heat to low. Let simmer for at least an hour to allow flavours to develop. Add cream just a few minutes before serving (this can be omitted if you wish). Serve with fluffy rice & top with toasted almond flakes, fresh coriander and a little extra chilli.

5. Portuguese style chicken

You can change the ingredients for the marinade. Mine is never quite the same. I like that about recipes like this.  It kind of evolves as you discover what you do and don’t like and what is available to you. Have the confidence to try different stuff and see what works. We cook ours on our spit roast over charcoal in a special chicken press but you don’t need to have this. It will be delicious cooked in a regular oven too. The marinade will make sure of this. Splitting a chicken to flatten it for Portuguese chicken is super easy. I find using chicken shears makes it even easier.  Once you have done it once you won’t ever be afraid again I promise. Just cut the chicken from the parsons nose through to the neck – not the breast side but the other. Once cut turn over the chicken and give it a good punch to flatten it down. Hey presto! You are ready to marinade. Told you it was easy.

1 large organic chicken
5 cloves garlic
1 lemon (rind cut off and reserved & juice will be used too)
Generous glug of extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp spanish smoked paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 large red chilli (remove seeds if you don’t want it too spicy)
1 whole bunch coriander (be sure to rinse well as you want to use the entire plant- roots & all)
Salt and pepper

Flatten the chook as described above.  Add all other ingredients to a food processor and blitz until it’s a paste like consistency. Smear marinade over every part of the chicken, bottom and top. It is best to leave overnight but a few hours ahead will still be great. We put ours into the press and it spins happily for a couple of hours basting itself as it goes.  The result is incredibly juicy chicken as the basting keeps the juices in the chicken. Truly amazing. If using a regular oven it will be best to place it on a rack and cook for an hour at 175C. We like to serve ours with my spicy wedges, roast pumpkin wedges that are cooked with a little garlic & rosemary and a crunchy green salad. Add a squeeze of lime if you like.

For more details about Ruth’s chook masterclass, head to the Eventbrite booking page.

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