So you may, or indeed may not, remember me prattling on about having a sore shoulder a while back which was resulting in a numb face and a painful neck. At first, I put it down to the extravagant swimming I pulled off in Corsica, or my particularly deft way of dragging a suitcase behind me with ne’ry a thought for my posture or the shins of passer-bys. I even had to go for an x-ray which was terribly exciting. Though not as exciting as the time I went for an MRI. Anyway, after the usual battling through a phone menu last revised back in the eighties and waiting the customary seven and a half years to get a doctor’s appointment (on the basis I’m not 89, and thus unable to get up at 5am to queue up outside the surgery), I went in for my results. I didn’t get my usual doctor. Instead, I got the doctor who I always try to avoid.
Now, let me say this. She’s a brilliant doctor, exceptionally knowledgeable and concise, and I’d (luckily) trust her with my life. But I don’t feel comfortable talking to her because she’s very aloof. I like a doctor who I can crack a joke with to relieve the tension and who will patiently explain all of the difficult terminology to me, such as spondylosis or stenosis or irreversible anal trauma or leg. I once, at the very peak of my anxiety, asked whether or not my erratic heartbeat was to be the end of me, only to be told by a jolly doctor with a nose the colour of a postbox that ‘I would still get the ladies to fit you up for a Christmas suit as opposed to a bodybag‘, before launching into a paroxysm of phlegm-filled chuckles. He was great, though I believe he’s dead now, so who got the last laugh?
No, this doctor speaks to me in a very clipped, matter-of-fact tone. Very professional, which is probably why I don’t get along. If I was a doctor I’d spend the entire time bringing out the giant arse thermometer with a wince on my face, only to poke it rudely in my patient’s side with an ‘only joking, no, seriously now, it’s terminal’. I sat down in the chair and I was given a look that almost set my ears on fire – the results were discussed over…ooh, seven seconds, and I was told I had spondylosis and that was that. To me, spondylosis sounds like a Eurovision entry from one of the wildcard countries, like Azerbaijan. Or perhaps a packet of Belgian sweets. When I asked for a mite more information, she signed like I’d punctured her lung and explained it was a form of ‘arthritis and a result of getting old’.
Getting old! I would understand if I was in my sixties but I’m only 30 – and whilst I’ve doubtless weathered my body disgustingly by years of smoking, drinking, casual sex and hilarious-obesity (well it’s better than morbid obesity) – I don’t think I’m ‘getting old’ just yet. Granted, I do make a noise like the air-brakes on a bus when I finally settle into my chair at the end of a working day, and I find myself picking up trinkets in garden centres and thinking ‘well now isn’t that just the ticket, a little foam pad for my knees when I’m weeding’, but come on. There’s a few years left in me yet, I hope. Actually, the fact that I put down in writing how often I’m in a garden centre is worrying – they were always the domain of ladies who smelled damp and men with cumulatively more hair sprouting out of their nose and ears than on their scalp – but then there I am on a Sunday, fingering the seed packets and worrying endlessly about my car being scratched. Hmm.
I courted her opinion on whether I should see a chiropractor and her reply was that she couldn’t comment – I resisted to urge to ask whether she was being held against her will or if a rogue chiropractor was holding her children hostage. She referred me to have my bloods taken, which I’m beginning to think is just a ruse to build up supplies because I have a rare blood type and they’re forever taking my blood. I swear, I go in for an ingrown toenail and they’ve got a needle in my arm before I’m so much as sat down in the reception flicking through a Home and Country. That’s a fib. There’s no Home and Country in our surgery. There’s a few dog-eared OK magazines – ‘It’s true love for Anthea Turner!‘ and ‘Happy future ahead for Princess Di‘ and a copy of Puzzler which I swear has been there since the centre was built – it’s probably a load-bearing magazine – and will remain there evermore. Out of little more than spite, I’ve arranged an appointment with a chiropractor regardless. If anything, it’ll give me something to twist my face about down the line. I do wish there was a way of discreetly asking whether or not their investigation table can stand up to twenty stone of fat slithered on top like cooling lava but no.
Anyway, enough about my day. It’s hurting to type, so I’ll need to hurry. I don’t like having a neck pose that makes me look permanently inquisitive. I’m actually frightened that I’m going to end up like all of those silly people on facebook who cast their head to one side and pout into the camera in the misguided belief that it’s hiding their chins, which are smartly avalanching into a fleshy heap under their right ear. So without a moment more of hesitation, here’s tonight’s recipe.
The chicken is delicious, all crispy and flavoursome, and don’t forget you can get your hands on a decent selection of breasts just by clicking on our Musclefood deal. Musclefood’s chicken doesn’t seem to shrink away to nothing in the oven, which is a bonus, and it actually tastes of something other than a farmer’s fart and a short life filled with disappointment and ennui. Give it a go. The accompanying sides are a piece of piss to make, but don’t they look good? You can serve this dish to loved ones and bask in their oohs and aaahs. Aaah, not arse. No-one wants to bask in my arse, sadly. I’ll divide this into two recipes, because I love you so much.
to make baked chicken parmesan, you’ll need:
- 4 chicken breasts
- 60g parmesan (30g is a HEA)
- 1 wholemeal roll, made into breadcrumbs (HEB)
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
It’s worth noting at this point that you’ll not use anywhere near all of the ‘covering’, so I wouldn’t worry too much about any syns and HEB. Up to you, though – this makes enough to coat four breasts.
to make baked chicken parmesan, you should:
- preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius
- in a shallow bowl, mix together the garlic powder, breadcrumbs, parmesan, basil and pepper
- spray the chicken breasts with a little spray oil and roll in the breadcrumbs so they are well coated – use a little more frylight on patches where the mixture won’t stick
- place onto a non-stick baking tray and bake for about thirty minutes, checking that the chicken is cooked through so you’re not shitting through the eye of a needle later on
to make sticky-leek topped bubble and squeak rostis, you’ll need:
- 700g of potatoes, chopped, don’t bother peeling
- 300g of broccoli
- a chicken stock cube
- any other veg you want to add in
- a pack of two leeks
- pinch of thyme
- pinch of salt
to make sticky-leek topped bubble and squeak rostis, you should:
- slice the leeks thinly – this is where a mandolin comes in really handy – and you can find one here. Take care though, don’t circumcise your fingers. You can just use a knife mind, but it’s faffy and the more uniform they look, the better
- pop these into a pan with a drop or two of oil, a teaspoon of oil and a pinch of thyme and salt – then put the lid on and shake shake shake, breaking the leeks up – then keep the lid on and put them on a low heat for as long as you dare, they’ll reduce down and get sticky
- meanwhile, cut up your potatoes and broccoli and boil for however long it takes to go soft
- allow to cool and then roughly mash – you don’t want baby food, so just give it a cursory mix – and add in the stock cube – if you have any parmesan left over from the chicken, chuck it in here
- shape into discs – now, we use one of these rings and presses – it makes things much easier, and costs less than a tenner – just use a dab of oil on the sides and you’ll get perfectly uniform, lovely shaped discs – but, you can use a scone ring or something circular!
- top with the sauteed leeks
- pop into the bottom of the oven when the chicken goes in
- serve with gravy if you like!