Friday, 17 March 2017

Chilli chicken with cavolo nero

Spotting cavolo nero in our local ASDA made me stop and squeak with delight, much to the bemusement of my hubbie and my son who had not tried it before.  Let me explain: cavolo nero is a brassica, so is related to cabbages, Brussels sprouts, curly kale, etc...  but is so much nicer! It originates from Tuscany in Italy, hence it is sometimes known as Italian kale, and has high levels of iron and vitamins A-C so is good for you as well.

The dark green of cavolo nero contrasts well with the paler greens of  celery, scallions, and flat-leaf parsley
Unlike many other members of the brassica family it isn't odiferous (smelly) when cooked - in other words you do not get the horrible school-dinner / wet-knicker pong of cooked cabbage hanging around for days after you've cooked it. And that has to be a good thing!

In addition cavolo nero has a great dark green - sometimes almost black - colour when raw and goes a fabulous bright green when cooked, unlike so many other greens that fade on cooking, plus it has a super wrinkly crinkly texture that it keeps, as long as you do not overcook it!

So there I was clutching my £1 bag of cavolo nero to my bosom and planning how to use it. The bag supplied enough for use in four different meal recipes, so proved great value too, and the first idea I came up with was the recipe I'm showing below:

Chilli chicken with cavolo nero (serves 4)

Chilli chicken with cavolo nero
Ingredients:

  • 300g chilli chicken breast strips - you can leave them as strips or cut strips into smaller pieces if preferred.
Note: We used a ready marinaded pack from Booth's but you can use any other chicken breast, cut into strips and marinaded in a chilli sauce for a few hours if you prefer, or aren't near anywhere that sells it ready done. It probably works out much cheaper and tastes just as good! 
  • 1 large leek, finely sliced
  • ½ a long sweet mild red pepper (Anaheim / Long Red Macaroni type pepper)
  • handful of cavolo nero leaves, cut into pieces (Tip: use kitchen scissors rather than a knife, it's easier!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • handful of mushrooms sliced  (chestnut ones are best for flavour but white ones work too) 
  • 1 small red chilli (bird's eye or similar heat level) deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs (any generic mixed herbs will be fine)
  • 1 green OXO
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • ½ pint boiling water
  • olive oil for cooking

Method:

Dissolve veg stock cube in boiling water and add herbs, leave to stand and infuse whilst you do the next step.

Stir fry the chicken and the garlic in hot olive oil in large frying pan or wok until outside of all chicken turns white (it won't be cooked through but that doesn't matter yet). Add a little of the stock if it looks like sticking, the marinade will wash off the chicken but that doesn't matter as it helps make the sauce.  Remove from heat and set aside once sealed. 
(Note: As we made this recipe using two woks we left the chicken in the first wok and used the second wok for the next step, but you can transfer the sealed chicken / garlic mix to a big bowl if you have only one pan to cook with.)

Chilli chicken, garlic and stock, set aside to rest the chicken whilst cooking the vegetables
Into the frying pan / wok add a little more olive oil and heat up, then add leeks, red pepper, chilli and celery, and stir fry for around 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes, adding as much of the stock as is needed to prevent sticking. 

Leeks, red pepper, chilli, celery, mushrooms stir fried
Transfer all to the same dish / pan as the previously cooked chicken / garlic mix, add remainder of stock and mix, then leave to stand.

Chicken and vegetables and stock added,  set aside
In the frying pan / wok add a little more olive oil and stir fry the cavolo nero for 1 minute.  Set aside. 

Cavolo nero being stir fried
Add the chicken / veg / stock back on to the heat for 3-4 minutes to ensure chicken is cooked through, then add the cavolo nero into the mix and stir. 

Everything is now in the pan and being heated through thoroughly before serving 

That look pretty hot - just look at the steam rising!
Serve with egg noodles, rice noodles, or rice, as preferred (we did it with egg noodles.)

Three hearty portions ready for eating!  Yum!!!
This made enough for four people (but as there is only three of us there was enough in the pan for someone later!)