‘Audubon’ presents a couple of simple dishes
One quick and easy recipe this month; and one less quick, but just as easy. The first is the simplest of kitchen suppers and involves the much-underestimated humble crab. Crab, treated properly, is quite delicious. If you don’t manage to catch any on the pier at Cromer (and, to be honest, you do need to delve deep to find good ones) then your local fishmonger is your friend, as ever. Many will sell you crab ready-dressed; or even in tubs. Audubon’s preference is for the dark meat; but this recipe uses only the white. Quantities are entirely dependent on how hungry you are feeling, or how many mouths you have to feed; so use your discretion.
1 large tub of white crab meat
1 onion, 2 spring onions, and garlic to taste
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
Dried chilli flakes (optional)
Chopped curly parsley
Dry sherry (or equivalent)
Linguine (dry or fresh)
Roughly chop the onions and garlic, and fry them over a medium heat with a large knob of butter and some olive oil; then add the cherry tomatoes. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, bring some salted water to the boil ready for the pasta.
Once the onion has turned translucent, add the crab. Stir thoroughly and remove from the hob. Add the linguine to the boiling water, and cook as appropriate. Turn off the heat, drain well and then return to the pan with a generous slug of olive oil. Empty the crab mixture over the pasta and combine both gently with tongs. Cover the pan – it mustn’t get cold.
Now place the first pan on a high heat. There will be little bits of crab stuck to the bottom and sides; so once it is hot, add a healthy draught of the dry sherry and get all the bits unstuck with a wooden spoon. Reduce the liquid – you could even add a little bit of crème fraîche at this stage, if you like.
Using your tongs again, plate up the pasta and then drizzle a little (or a lot) of the sauce over each serving. Sprinkle with some ground black pepper, chilli flakes – err on the side of caution, if you’re using them – and lots of chopped parsley. Serve with your perfectly-chilled crisp white wine of choice.
For something more hearty, which can be prepared well in advance and then kept warm without spoiling, what about a nice chicken casserole? You’ll need a good heavy pan. It’s perfect for the winter weather, and easily made in large batches that can then be frozen. This version is dairy-free, and was worked up when a friend with a lactose intolerance wandered through the New Directions kitchen during the Christmas Octave. Audubon has intolerances; none involves food.
Again, use your own judgement as to how much you want to make. This will feed about four people, or two hungry ordinands.
8 chicken thighs
1 onion, 1 large carrot
2 sticks celery
three cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
bottle of dry white wine
2 pints chicken stock
Roughly chop the bacon, onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, and then fry in the pan – the fat in the bacon should be ample; but you might need to add a little olive oil as necessary. If you want to make the dish go further, you could also add mushrooms – chopped or halved. Oyster mushrooms, roughly torn up, work well – but their cost and texture are not to everyone’s taste. Add plenty of thyme, and the bay leaves. Stir well, cover, and continue to cook on a medium heat.
Roll the thighs in well-seasoned flour, and brown on both sides in a frying pan. Then add them to the vegetables and turn up the heat, stirring together. Add several turns of fresh black pepper, and then pour in the wine. Stir well, and let it sizzle for a minute. Add the chicken stock, and when the whole mixture has started to bubble turn down the heat, stirring well. Replace the lid. Simmer on a medium heat for 45 minutes or so, stirring often – the aim is to reduce the liquid by about a third. Once you’re happy with the consistency, turn off the heat and keep it warm in a low-medium oven until you’re ready to eat. Remove the bay leaves and as many of the thyme stalks as you can find, and then serve with garden peas and boiled new potatoes, good English mustard, and Burgundy wine.