Crispy chicken skin chow mien

Crispy chicken skin chow mien

Crispy chicken skin chow mien

So you’ve rendered the fat from your chicken skin, but maybe you want something a little more adventurous than just, you know, eating it? Remember, relay race – what ideas do you get from this crunchy, deeply savoury, salty goodness?

Learning more about Chinese cuisine is where I’m at, and my kids love the noodles and rice that are part of it. This chow mien went down a treat. Stir fries are a perfect salty/sweet/fatty meal and perfect for mid week cooking. You do need to be ready, pay attention and be ready to bin any garlic that is burned.

You can use any green veg in this, really. If you don’t have much chicken skin, you can always add any leftover meat you might have hanging around, or some egg or cashew nuts. It’s a template to get you using up those random bits in your fridge for a healthy, thrifty, leftover busting dinner.

 

Leftover Barbecue Noodles

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: eating on a budget
Servings: 2
Author: Ann Storr

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 150 grams fresh greens (spinach, chard, kale)
  • 50 ml vegetable/chicken stock/water
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons shoyu/light soy sauce
  • pinch soft brown sugar
  • at least 25 grams leftover barbecue protein per person

For the noodles

  • 150 grams dried noodles
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Tools

  • Chopping board & knife
  • Wok
  • Measuring jug
  • Measuring spoons/teaspoon & tablespoon
  • Saucepan & colander/sieve

Instructions

  • Shred the leftover barbecue meat/fish/veggie into small pieces
  • Finely chop the garlic and ginger. Cut the onion or leek into 5mm slices
  • Cook the noodles to packet instructions. Once you have drained them, stir the sesame oil through and set to one side.

The stir fry

  • Heat the wok until smoking and add the oil. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for 5 seconds then add the onion/leek. Stir fry for one minute before adding the garlic and ginger and quickly deglaze the wok with Shaoxing rice wine.
  • Add the chicken/veg stock, Hoisin sauce and light soy sauce. When boiling, add the greens and shredded meat.
  • Stir the cooked noodles through and serve

Storage

  • The noodles will keep fine for a few days in a lidded container. You can eat them cold.

Crispy chicken skin – with extra rewards…

Crispy chicken skin – with extra rewards…

Crispy chicken skin with benefits

I was veggie for 8 years. I most missed roast chicken, picking at all the good bits with my dad, like little Henry VIIIs at the end of Sunday lunch.

Rediscovering the joys of crispy chicken skin has been a joy of my later adult life. If a recipe calls for chicken thighs, I’ll always, always strip the skin off to render the fat. It takes a little time but you don’t have to pay any attention. Slowly the fat will melt into the pan, leaving you with crispy chicken skin that you can, if you’re me, enjoy just with some salt and a cold drink. If you feel so inclined, crumble it through some popcorn.

The benefits? Now you have chicken fat to cook with. Think relay race: what does that chicken fat inspire you to cook? It will only keep for a week or so, in a lidded jar in the fridge. Maybe you’ll make pasta; maybe a stew. The point is that from one packet of chicken thighs, you have the stew you were going to cook, some crispy skin and some fat. One meal, one snack and one store cupboard ingredient, and never a leftover, leftover.

Crispy chicken skin with benefits

Rendering fat from meat is a zero-waste and tasty way to make the most your chicken

Ingredients

  • chicken skin
  • salt go crazy with smoked salt if you have it...

Tools

  • frying pan
  • tongs
  • jar/little pot for storing leftover fat

Instructions

  • Place the chicken skins in the frying pan and salt them well. Turn the heat to medium and gently cook the skins through.
  • It will take about 20-30 minutes to get the skins crispy, gently pulling the skin so that it's as thin as possible.
  • When you are happy with the crispiness, eat. You can store them but they are best served warm, maybe with a little extra salt.

The fat

  • Pour the fat into a jar and store in the fridge. It will keep for around a week or so. Use the chicken fat instead of any butter or vegetable oil if you're making a soup or stew.

Fishfinger fish cakes

Fishfinger fish cakes

Fishfinger fish cakes

My first job, aged 15 or 16, was washing pots.  I’d make £16 a week for the Saturday lunch session. I took the job over after one of my brothers didn’t want it any more. One Saturday morning I knocked on the fire door, said “I’m Tom’s sister – he’s not doing this any more”.  Barry, the head chef, shrugged and let me in.  It was a small kitchen, just two chefs and me.

I loved it – hot and dirty work, scrubbing pots and heaving trays of dishes in and out of the industrial dishwasher.  The labour of it appealed to me, much more than working in a shop (note: I never got the shop jobs I applied for.  Ever.  Only ever cafe and restaurant jobs).

After a few months, my responsibilities seemed to increase. Barry the head chef taught me how to use the giant food mill to grind potatoes.  Adding poached salmon, herbs, anchovy essence and seasoning.  And, how to shape a fishcake with my hands: using a cutter created waste. I learnt to pat and roll out the mixture, cut it into squares that you smooth and shape into circles with your hands.

After he taught me this, Barry sat in the cupboard that was our staff room, drank a tea, smoked a fag and read the Sun. And I was making the fishcakes.  Which was his job.  But I’ve never used a cutter to make a scone or fishcake, because it’s less wasteful and there’s less washing up.  Okay, maybe you’ve never made a fishcake – great!  But, maybe now is the time to start.  They are cheap, good for you, comforting and delicious.

Fishfingers  – okay they’re hardly poached salmon.  But don’t let that stop you. The crunchy breadcrumbs work well in the fishcakes, and adding more breadcrumbs on the outside of your fishcake adds to the deliciousness, and is a thrifty way to make a small amount of protein go further.

Crunchy fish cakes

Ingredients

  • 400 grams raw potatoes (350 grams cooked)
  • 150 grams cold breaded fish/fishfingers
  • 2 eggs
  • salt & pepper
  • 75 grams plain white flour
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika/ras al hanout optional, but they add a lovely flavour
  • 100 grams breadcrumbs
  • Plenty of vegetable oil for frying

Tools

  • Scales & bowl
  • Chopping board & sharp knife
  • Saucepan
  • Peeler
  • Potato masher/fork
  • Whisk/fork
  • 3 small bowls/plates for egg and breadding
  • 2 large plates
  • Frying pan

Instructions

Prep

  • If starting with raw potatoes, peel and boil/steam/microwave until they are soft through
  • Mash the potatoes well with a masher or fork, and season well with salt and pepper

Combine the fishcakes

  • Lay out the three smaller bowls
  • In the first, add your flour, the second your eggs and third your breadcrumbs
  • Season the flour and the breadcrumbs; if using, add the spice to the breadcrumbs
  • Whisk the egg
  • Break the fish into 1 inch/2cm pieces
  • Place oven to 100C
  • Add the fish to your mashed potatoes and mix through
  • Take a handful of mixture and roll it into a ball. Do that until you have between 6 & 8 fish cakes
  • Flatten each fishcake with the flat palm of your hand and is about 2cm thick
  • Take one fishcake and place it in the flour. Using your right hand, make sure it’s entirely covered
  • Place in the egg. Using your left hand, cover it in egg. Using your left hand still pop the fish into the bowl with the breadcrumbs
  • Using your right hand, press the fishcake into the breadcrumbs so it has a nice crunchy covering and is a little flattened
  • Still using your right hand, place the fishcake onto the waiting plate. Repeat until they are all covered
  • Place enough oil to cover about 2mm in your frying pan and turn the heat to medium

Cook the fishcakes

  • Pop a little leftover lump of breadcrumbs into the pan; when they sizzle, you’re ready
  • Place 2 or 3 fishcakes in the pan and cook until golden (about 7 mins)
  • Once golden flip and repeat
  • Keep the waiting cakes warm into the warm oven
  • Serve with veg/beans

Fishfinger rice bowl

Fishfinger rice bowl

Fishfinger rice bowl

Sometimes I think of a leftover recipe. I imagine different reactions:
younger me “Cold fish and RICE?  ARE YOU ON DRUGS? Where’s the white sauce?!”
My parents: “Gosh, it is interesting how you combine different things isn’t it?”
My brothers: “Oh, yeah, well done”.

They aren’t the leftover lovers though!  Two leftover fish fingers are too good to waste, and this, to me, was surprisingly good.

The leftover friend’s super star, a rice bowl is a fab way to use up those odds and sods from the bottom of your fridge.  Any leftover greens, some salad: whatever.  Bet you’d buy it in M&S  or Pret without thinking, so have a go and make your own!  Okay, M&S and Pret wouldn’t be using fishfingers, but you might have some white fish or some chicken mixed with your rice and salad, so why not a fishfinger?

Cuisines across the world batter or egg & bread fish, so mixing up a fishfinger with a little boiled rice isn’t as mad as it might sound.  I mean, okay, I wouldn’t pay to eat it in a restaurant or claim that it’s authentic cuisine (well, it’s authentic Ann Storr but that’s not always a good thing TBF). With some salad, some chilli  – well, to me it’s a damn sight tastier than a coffee shop equivalent.  And no single-use plastic packaging. With this second, more photogenic rock around the block I used Thai sticky rice, which I prefer in this dish, and it was easier to eat with chopsticks (because yes I’m sure this is super, super authehtic Thai (side eye emoji).

If you take lunch into work, store the fish separately so that the crumbs don’t go soggy (bawk).  A little teryaki sauce is all that this needs to give you a filling and tasty lunch.  Or, if you don’t have any in the fridge, some tamari or soy sauce.

Nice rice, some veg, some fish: quick lunch​​

 

Fishfinger Rice Bowl

Yes I sort of hate me too.

Ingredients

  • 60 grams rice I used Thai, but whatever you have/like
  • 2 leftover fishfingers
  • Salad that you like
  • Teriyaki

Instructions

  • Cook the rice per packet instructions. Leave to cool.
  • If you're planning on eating this later, make sure that the rice is 100% room temperature before packing the salad as otherwise it'll steam slightly. If in doubt, pack a few small containers and combine when you're ready to eat.

Milk Bread

Milk Bread

Milk Bread from worrisome milk

My bread isn’t going to win any beauty prizes, but milk bread is a perfect way to deal with “oh lord I forgot to cancel the milk” or “we both bought milk and now  – is it sodding off?!?!” problems.

When I first made this Rachel Roddy recipe, my youngest ate three rolls as soon as they were cool enough, and begged me to make them again. If you want to learn about better Italian cooking, then I cannot recommend Rachel’s books or column enough. Simple recipes, no fancy ingredients and very, very helpful suggestions.

Your milk: if you’re a little concerned about if it’s safe, remember what to do: first, sniff it; if you’re not sure, then taste just a tiny drop. If your milk is a tiny bit sour then you should be fine to bake it in this loaf. Believe me, in my skint days, sour milk went into many loaves of milk bread and soda bread. Once you’ve tasted the milk, if it makes you want to vom, then of course do not use it. If it is one or two days passed it’s ‘best’ date, you are likely to be okay. The heat of the oven will kill any potential germs but, unless you’re buying raw milk, the pasteurisation and filtrations systems of milk treatment will keep you safe and well.

Millions of litres of milk are poured down the drain of every UK household. That milk is sold as a lost leader by supermarkets. Not only are we wasting our money, we are not being mindful of the backbreaking work of farmers and cows in getting this milk to us. So don’t fucking waste it just because of a date! Use your senses, use these recipes and make sure there’s never a leftover, leftover.

Ratio note

Bread is, almost always, an easy ratio. This way, if you have 750 ml or 225 ml of milk to use up, get your maths brain/calculator out and get cracking:

100% flour (e.g., 1 kilo)
60% liquid (600ml)
10% yeast (10 grams)
20% salt (20 grams)

 

Milk bread

Adapted, barely, from Rachel Roddy, The Guardian, 5.11.2018

Ingredients

  • 300 ml worrisome milk
  • 1 egg
  • 500 grams plain flour
  • 5 grams fast action yeast if you bake a lot, consider buying a tin as the packaging is recyclable, and you can use a more accurate weight.
  • 10 grams salt this is the same as 2 teaspoons but I find it easier to just weigh straight into the scales
  • 10 grams sugar

Tools

  • Scale
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Measuring jug
  • Whisk
  • Clean tea towel
  • Loaf tin/ovenproof dish
  • If baking rolls: greaseproof paper
  • Wire cooling rack

Instructions

  • I use a digital scale and just weigh all the dry ingredients on top of each other. Stir them together
  • Break the egg into the milk and whisk together with the whisk or fork. Pour into the flour mixture and get your hands right in there. The dough should be soft, not sticky.
  • Now, you can either knead the dough for ten minutes, or you can do the no-knead method: shape the dough into a round and return to the bowl. Every time it reaches double the size, knock it back. You have to go this about 6 times (so 6-10 hours) but it works for me.

Ready for baking

  • Lightly flour a counter and shape the dough into a loaf shape, or into rolls. (I have a shite sense of weight, so I weight out 100g lumps of dough for a roll; there's usually one weird one left over).
  • Grease your loaf tin and gently place the dough into the tin. If making rolls, I line an ovenproof tray with greaseproof paper.
  • Turn the oven to 180C. Cover the dough with the clean tea towel and leave to double in size.
  • Lightly brush the buns with milk and place in the oven; the loaf will take around 40 minutes, the buns around 20.
  • When the oven pings, if it's the loaf, upend it onto a clean tea towel or wire cooling rack. If it sounds hollow when you tap it, you're good to go. If not, pop it back in. With the rolls, you are probably okay.
  • When you're happy that everything's cooked through, place on the wire cooling rack (removing any greaseproof paper if you've used) and leave, if you can, to cool.

Storage

  • Once cool, I use a super sexy giant tupperware to store my bread. 
    It will freeze well, in a bag, for a couple of months.

Relay racing it

  • Of course it's just bread; but the softness of milk bread makes superb eggy bread or bread and butter pudding. 

Rice Pudding

Rice Pudding

Rice pudding from worrisome milk

Years ago, I worked with a wonderful woman called Jadz. We worked on the same study at the Institute of Psychiatry, looking at how nature and nuture affect behaviour. I’d feel insecure that my colleagues were all researchers and academics, when I was ‘just’ comms and business. I talked more about food and fashion than stats and theories, and got my boss to bring me copies of American Vogue (one time it was a record breaking September edition…). It’s lucky that I moved industries, right?

Jadz told me how her mum would make bowls of rice pudding as a special breakfast. She smiled as she said it, in that time-warp way that some memories have. I went home and made a batch for my eldest, and she was in heaven.

Nowadays, I make my eldest rice pudding for breakfast when I know she’s got a rough day ahead. After 11 years on a nature X nuture study, the armchair psychologist in me says that nature (child and grandchild of comfort feeders) + nurture (erm, child and grandchild of comfort feeders) means there’s going to be rice pudding for breakfast for years to come, thank you Jadz.

Note

Rice pudding will keep for a couple of days, but if you have any scrapings leftover, whack them into a pancake batter or bread dough – remember it’s all about relay race cooking, where one ‘leftover’ sparks a new idea.

Rice pudding

You can use pudding rice, but I have a giant bag of arborio rice that my bestie sent me from Italy. Short grain would even be fine at a push.
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 500 ml leftover milk cow/goat/soy/coconut
  • 50 grams pudding or risotto rice
  • 25 grams unsalted butter or vegan alternative
  • 25 grams sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)

Tools

  • Scales
  • Measuring jug
  • Saucepan with lid
  • Sieve
  • Wooden spoon

Ratio

    1 part rice to 10 parts milk: if you have 250 ml of milk to use up, it's 25 grams of rice. 1 litre? 100 grams of rice.

      Instructions

      • Weigh the rice, place it in the sieve and rinse. Allow to drain.
      • Add the milk, rice, butter, sugar and salt to the pan. Turn the heat to medium, place the lid on and bring to the boil.
      • Milk can boil over VERY QUICKLY so don't walk away!
      • Once it is simmering, turn the heat down. Stir every 10 minutes of so until done - around 30 minutes.
      • Serve on its own or with jam

      Storage

      • If there is any leftover, then place in a lidded container in the fridge. You can mash any leftover rice pudding that no-one wants into bread dough or pancake batter.