D's Cookery Corner: Simple Sunday Lunch

It's that time of week again when we let D loose in the kitchen, last week it was Italian, and this week it is firmly Northern. This week he's cooking a simple Sunday lunch, this is where we consider the horrors of an oven, a full chicken, spitting oil for Yorkshires and more importantly a rather giddy child. This was his response to knowing he was about to be handed the secret to one of his favourite puddings, fruit cobbler. Still though, there is that niggling worry of him dropping a whole chicken so we have decided to adapt for small fingers and giddy feet.

Learn how to make a fruit cobbler

This lunch is incredibly simple and involves chicken thighs rather than a whole chicken. You will need six chicken thighs, you will cook all six but only use three today.

D's Cookery Corner: Simple Sunday Lunch

You will need the following herbs, bay, rosemary and thyme. They add a real depth to the dish.

Herbs are important in cooking

Sprinkle some pepper and salt to sprinkle over the chicken thighs.

Sprinkle some pepper and salt to sprinkle over the chicken thighs

Before putting in the oven, at 180c for 30-40 minutes, sprinkle over the herbs but keep some rosemary and thyme back for the gravy. Leave the bay leaves whole, slot them between the thighs and then cover the baking tray with tin foil, take this off for the final 15 minutes to brown the chicken skin and also have another baking tray ready - make sure both trays have deep sides.

Learn a simple Sunday lunch

Next dice some potatoes, place in garlic cloves, still in their skin and add butter, salt and pepper, a little oil and pop in the oven with the chicken thighs. 

How to roast tasty potatoes

Next comes a rite of passage for all Northern children, Yorkshire puddings. For those of you who have never tried or worse still have merely bought them frozen, shame on you because we have a recipe that you will take to your grave with you. If you don't know what a Yorkshire pudding is, think crepes with more oomph! You will need 4oz of plain flour. Weigh it out, don't guess it! A good set of scales are your best friend when baking.

How to make Yorkshire puddings

A good set of scales are your best friend when baking

Add some salt to the flour, just a pinch.

Add salt to your puddings

Crack in three eggs (we got our first double yoker from our chicken, Mrs Cluckerbuck) and add a 285ml of milk. Beat and allow to rest. Heat the oven to 220c, add vegetable oil to the tray that you will use for the puddings and put it in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the oil is smoking and then add the batter mix you have knocked up, cook for 15 minutes until risen and golden. Keep a little of the batter back for the gravy.

Learn how to bake fruit cobbler

Next,  we consider vegetables and then consider tiny fingers with sharp knifes, and chopping boards, so we reached for one of our favourites, grated courgettes and frozen peas. D finds it easy to grate the courgette, stood on his stool so he can reach the worktop. We have high worktops due to Andrew's disability.

Courgette and peas as a side dish

We ask D to grate some, this is what he thinks some is.

Some is not always what you think it should be but your kids think it is this

We tell D to grate more and this is the response.

Stop working me so hard

We end up with more than we asked, somewhere between some and oh my goodness.

Too much courgette

Put the courgette in a pan and add frozen peas (not from our garden, our garden peas never make it into the kitchen) and a large knob of butter, grate some nutmeg and then stir on a low heat, no water needed as there is plenty of water in the courgette and the frozen peas. Put a lid on the pan to steam them a little but keep on stirring them occasionally. This solution cuts out the problem with hot water in pans being splashed over children.

Simple, safe dishes for children to cook

Finally, we come to D's favourite, fruit cobbler. We use a recipe by Pioneer Woman but have modified it to use blueberries instead.  

Great recipe by Pioneer Woman

This is all in cups and again is based around a batter that you can drop the fruit into and it is extremely tasty. The flour here though is self-raising and not plain, like the Yorkshires. Mix in a large bowl and decant into a baking dish.

Fruit cobbler

Adding fruit to your desserts

Now back to the main, take the chicken out of the oven and take of the tin foil, place the chicken thighs into a new baking tray and place back into the oven to brown. Place the original baking tray on the hob and turn to a medium/low heat. The chicken juices will soon start to bubble, add four tablespoons of gravy granules, about three teaspoons of Yorkshire pudding mixture to form a strange meaty roux, slowly add water until you reach a consistency that you like for gravy. Add the remaining rosemary and thyme, turn to a low heat and allow it to bubble away gently as the chicken browns and the puddings puff up. 

Foolproof Yorkshires

After 15 minutes we have Yorkshire puddings to die for and D is very happy with them. We'll only use three and use the other three in another meal tomorrow with the remaining three pieces of chicken. Think chicken, chips and puddings with the remaining gravy. That means we have ingredients for two meals and this is a frugal but tasty way of eating. The final result, and yes we decided to boil some carrots too, is a wonderful dish full of taste and gravy. We simply serve with some crusty bread (optional) and jug of ice chilled water with a wedge of lemon in it. We do this because children have a tendency to chew without testing, and many a time we have told D to blow on his food first. When he was very little this often resulted in us covered in the food as he literally blew it all over the room. This was often horrific when eating in restaurants as childless couples ran from the place screaming.

D's Cookery Corner: Simple Sunday Lunch

The fruit cobbler is a wonderful end to the meal and with custard - we'd like to say how to make custard here but we have a soft spot for Bird's custard, and real custard lovers will be yelling at the screen now for this heresy - either way the whole meal is simply heaven.

Pioneer Woman's fruit cobbler tested at Pig Row

The whole meal from start to finish took just over an hour and was consumed in far less time. It was eaten as such meals must be, around the table with the television off and our voices raised in laughter. It was also a good chance to test D on what he remembered was in each part of the meal, and do you know what? It stuck. D whispers how to bake Yorkshire puddings in his sleep.

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