droptober recipe #7: italian sausage and chicken risotto

I can’t begin to tell you how much I love our risottos, especially this Italian sausage and chicken risotto because it is simplicity itself! Italian sausage is usually sausage with fennel, so we’ve cheated a bit and used plain, syn free sausages and added fennel seeds. Yes, it’s that type of sassy thinking and cunning that got us where we are today. Bit of a long entry tonight but first, for the last time (well maybe tomorrow) an advert BEFORE IT RUNS OUT.


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LAST CHANCE. Before we get to the recipe, just a heads-up that – for two days only – we’ve reduced the prize of our freezer filler meatbox down to £40 instead of the already cheap-as-chips £50. That’s £40 for about 24 big chicken breasts, 5 x 400g servings of syn-free beef mince, 700g of bacon medallions (and it’s good bacon, mind, not the shite that withers away to bugger all) and 800g of beef chunks – and even better, the forty quid includes delivery. I posted this on Facebook this afternoon and people have been ordering it left-right-and-centre, so don’t delay – it’ll never be cheaper than this. Click here or on the image above (it’ll open in a new window) and make sure you use the code TCCFREEZER to bring it down to £40 with standard delivery. This is the meat we use in our recipes and it has never let us down!


Don’t worry, I think the code expires tomorrow so the big advert won’t be on the next lot of posts!

Paul and I have been thinking about switching slimming world classes. Not because our current class has anything wrong with it, it’s absolutely the best one in the area, but we’ve been going off and on for almost seven years. It’s easy to fall into a rut and we’re not staying to class anymore, so perhaps a new face and a new bank of folks to look at with my eye glaze over whilst they chunter on about 1/2lb here and there is exactly what we need. As I was mulling over this decision in the car on the way home, I started thinking about my perfect Slimming World class and what I’d do if I was a consultant.

Incidentally, we get so, so many people telling us they’d come to our class if we became consultants, but we offered our services to Slimming World way back when we were just starting out and didn’t get a phone call in return. Which, frankly, was foolish – we’ve got plenty of disposable income and a very carefree approach to spending it. My house could have been more Hi-Fi bar than brick. But anyway. So here’s how my dream class would go if I was a consultant. If you’re a consultant, feel free to nick my ideas, but be sure to have a framed photo of us with a candle burning in front of it, like people do when someone’s died in a car-crash.

For a start, let’s not be tight with the venue. I’m sick of sitting on rock hard chairs in draughty church halls, getting piles and backache. Let’s have the class in the back of the local pub, so people can pay lip service to losing weight and then get straight on the beers, wine and crackling, like EVERYONE WHO GOES TO FAT-CLASS does. The heating would be on but sensible – I’ve noticed classes are either so hot that you lose two pounds in sweat just sitting in your chair shallow-breathing or so fucking cold that you can open your third box of Hi-Fi bars with your diamond-level nipple.

I’d serve proper coffee and proper tea. There’s no excuse for people to people to fork over £5 and then get hit with coffee so weak you can see the bottom of the cup through it, or tea that tastes like it was brewed up in 1957 and left to stand. Yes, it’s a bit more pricey, but let’s class the joint up. I’d ban sweetener though because I’d get tired of people mooing at me about SINZ PLZ.

It would be mandatory for everyone to have the right change or a countdown when it came to paying. Let’s be honest: we’ve all been in the queue, inwardly seething and wishing death on the poor bugger at the front of the queue fumbling around in the depths of their Michelle Cors handbag for 10p. Think of it like a bus: turn up, pay, bugger off to the seats. Weighing would be the same – it would be mandatory, punishable by death, to be ready to get on the scales. No holding up the queue whilst you take off your support knickers, bra, false-teeth, clit-ring, fanny-chandelier, built-up shoes and pleatherette belt. Get on, get weighed, ten seconds only of your fake surprise act or blustered explanations, then on your way to the naughty seats ready for class.

Now the most important bit: the chat. I have quite a booming voice when I want to so being heard wouldn’t be a problem. I’d want the class to be full of laughter, fun and chatter, but if you’re the rude arsehole who insists on chatting to your mate all the way through whilst people are shitting themselves from straining so hard to hear who is talking, Paul will nip outside and put your tyres down. We’d open with weight losses – but not the 56 minute long affair of ‘and Mary has lost ‘arf a pound how have you done that Mary’ (repeating the name a lot so it looks like you are invested in your members but haway, it’s on your little screen).

Here’s the cruel truth – this bit adds absolutely nowt unless it sparks a discussion about weight loss. The fact that Bob from Greggs has lost two pounds, his foot has turned less black and he’s lost eight pounds overall in eighteen years means very little to most people unless you know them. No, we’d beetle about the room, giving out the stickers because let’s be fair, everyone likes a sticker, congratulating people in groups (so all the 2lb losses would get named, then the 1lb losses, then the stayed the same) – much quicker and easier. Plus, you don’t have to wrap your hands in gauze afterwards to stop the bleeding from clapping so fucking much. We’re adults, not seals desperate for people to throw us a fish.

Then, 45 minutes or so of chat, decent recipe swapping and funny stories. Make it an hour where you’d actually want to contribute and make it more like conversation between friends, instead of 60 disparate chubbies all fretting and cringeing until the moment their name is called.  I’d want to hear people laughing more than hearing people sigh and yawn into their hands. More focus on eating – that’s one thing I find so confusing about the groups – there’s surprisingly little focus on good things to eat and ideas. I’d bring technology into it – have a decent sized TV in the background with recipes on it, changing every now and then. Naturally, being us, we’d slip the odd slide in of a giant bouncy cock for half a second, just long enough to think you’ve seen it before onto a risotto recipe. There’d be jokes and genuine admiration. Aaah.

Slimmer of the Week wouldn’t win a basket of fruit that’s pretty much already turned into wine, no, the winner would get to take part in my game. I’d get my dad to build a massive wheel-of-fortune stand-up wheel with different segments and prizes – a free week, a box of Hi Fi bars, a tiny sliver for a free countdown, another for a big cuddle from the fattest person in the room, even the odd penalty to add a bit of risk – they have to put the chairs back at the end of the class, or come back to mine and cook us a delicious tea. Paul could mince on in a glittery dress like Debbie McGee’s morbidly obese twin, we could make a proper spectacle of it. Much better than ‘here’s a bunch of black bananas, a sweet ‘n’ sour mugshot and some unidentified fruit with half a WHOOPS sticker on it.

Raffle would be for useful things that people can use to cook with – a decent pan, a set of scales, spoons. Every now and then we’d think fuck it and put a box of chocolates on there. Guarantee we’d have far more raffle tickets being bought then! As for contact during the week, none of the mushy stuff – texts saying ‘Yeah, the chocolate might taste nice, but do you not fancy seeing your fadge again’ or ‘Try the mushy pea curry: you’ll be shitting for England but you’re sure to get that shiny star’ or even just the plain old threatening ‘Elnetta-MB has your details now. She knows where you live. DON’T EAT A PIE’. My facebook group would be full of rude jokes and recipe challenges and yeah, you’d still get stickers and certificates, but you’d also get arbitrary stickers like ‘Can open a Mars bar without getting breathless’ and ‘managed to see the end of her toes’. Make it fun, make it entirely non-serious, make it good.

Aaaah a boy can dream, eh? I know the practicalities of money, time and corporate branding would put the kibosh on all of the above, but hell, we could give it a bloody good go before SW cracked the whip.

Right, let’s get to the recipe, shall we? This makes two big bowls of delicious tasty stodge.

italian sausage and chicken risotto

to make italian sausage and chicken risotto you will need:

to make italian sausage and chicken risotto you should:

  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add a splash of oil
  • add the sausages to the pan and cook for five minutes until browned but not fully cooked
  • remove from the pan, leave to cool for a bit and then slice and keep to one side
  • add the fennel seeds to the pan and stir around the pan for about a minute
  • add the leeks to the pan and cook for another 4-5 minutes, until starting to brown
  • mix the tomato puree with 1 tbsp water and add to the pan, along with the apple juice, garlic and spice mix
  • cook for a few minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes or so
  • add the rice and stir until well mixed and coated
  • add the chicken to the pan, lob in the sausages and stir again
  • add as much stock as you can to the pan – if you can’t get it all in just add what you can and keep topping it up
  • stir the mix every couple of minutes or so until the liquid has been absorbed, which’ll take about 20 minutes
  • serve!

There you have it – if you’ve ever fancied having an Italian stallion sit heavy in your stomach, you’ve just found one!

If you fancy other equally delicious dinners, just click on the buttons below to find more of our tasty ideas!

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J

tasty quinoa stuffed chicken

Here for the tasty quinoa stuffed chicken? Well aren’t we all. However, you’ll need to get past all my huffle-and-puffle first.

I was talking with a colleague yesterday about the hanky code. For those who don’t get the gay newsletter, the hanky code was/is a system used mainly by gay blokes back in the seventies and eighties to subtly clue in possible paramours (for those less classy: shags) as to their sexual predilections. A dark blue hanky in the right back pocket meant you preferred being the garage rather than the car. Grey meant you liked light bondage, black meant you liked extremely heavy BDSM and pain, like being made to sit through The X-Factor without having a mallet to repeatedly set about your skull with. Somewhat disconcertingly, the hanky for a chap who likes men who smokes cigars is described as ‘tan’, whereas the colour for someone who wants to act as a full toilet (i.e. someone who fancies a Hot Karl: don’t fucking google it) is ‘brown’. I genuinely don’t think I could tell you the difference between brown and tan, and imagine the horror of going back to someone’s house for a Montecristo and a chat about socio-economics only to be confronted with them squatting over you with a determined gurn on their face. YIKES.

And anyway, it wouldn’t work for me – I have trouble spotting Paul in a room, and he’s the size of a family tent. Trying to get me to differentiate colours, especially when blood is rushing to a head on my body that doesn’t contain my brain, is just asking for trouble.

It’s almost a shame that the hanky code has died off, I reckon it would be interesting if we all, quite literally, nailed our colours to the mast. We certainly live in a time where people are open and being gay is so much more accepted. It’s brilliant. I was driving home the other day past a school (this isn’t as Operation Yewtree as it might sound) and there was a young lad walking up the street, surrounded by girls, as flamboyant and camp as you like – more mince than even our fabulous Musclefood deal (BEST LINK EVER). No attempt to hide it – and why should he – and whilst he might have just be a colourful young straight lad, my gaydar pinged and I thought it marvellous. I reckon we’re about twenty years from it just not being a thing at all, I reckon.

I’ve certainly been lucky, having never experienced any kind of homophobia. There’s been jokes about my sphericalness and god knows I endured many a crack about my long black hair, but never the fact I’m a backdoor betty. Perhaps because I’ve always been hard to push over, who knows? I’ve never hidden Paul away – I’d need a fucking big piece of camouflage netting for one – and although I like playing the ‘partner’ game when I meet someone new (i.e. using non-gender specific terms of endearment when talking about Paul – my partner, Fats Waller, my bitch, slave), I’m always proud to say I’m a gay man.

I have my own feelings about the ever-increasing list of genders and sexualities which I won’t share here, only to say I genuinely struggle to understand some of the more far out terms and, personally, I think there’s a chance that identity problems won’t be taken as seriously when someone describes themselves as identifying as an otherkin or as a ze (someone who believes ‘he’ has negative connotations of gender, apparently). I get gender fluidity, I think (i.e. I think I understand it) but when someone describes as a non-cis pivotgender being, it just makes my head hurt. To be quite honest, it makes me feel old and confused. Perhaps that’s my own ignorance though. Hmm.

Anyway look, I’m not here to reflect on my life as a shirtlifter. I really just wanted to crack a joke about tan/brown hankies! Let’s get the recipe out!

This recipe makes more than enough to completely stuff 4 large chicken breasts, and we served it with broccoli and roast potatoes (chuck some baby potatoes into your Actify with some worcestershire sauce and allow to tumble around – it’s that easy!). Don’t have an Actifry? Then, foolish person, buy one now. Especially when they’re cheap on Amazon! We picked up the idea for the recipe via a lovely blog called Macheesmo – we’ve turned it Slimming World friendly and tweaked it, but full credit to the bloke and his beard for the inspiration! If there’s only the two of you, halve the ingredients. Dur.

tasty quinoa stuffed chicken

to make tasty quinoa stuffed chicken, you’re going to need:

  • 4 large chicken breasts – the breasts that come in our Musclefood bundle – where you get about 24/26 per package – are ideal. They’re juicy and not full of water like the supermarkets! Take a gander by clicking here.
  • 200g of quinoa, rinsed under cold water
  • a few big handfuls of spinach
  • 90g of feta (45g is your HEA, or syn it at 6 syns – but as this serves four, it’ll be three syns per breasts. You keeping up here, Vorderman?)
  • a few grinds of your pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • just a cautious wee nip of red chilli flakes
  • spray oil – not spray plastic, say no to Frylight!
  • 25g of dried sun-dried tomatoes – these are an easy way to add the taste of sun-dried tomatoes – they are dried tomatoes and can usually be found in Tesco – apparently they’re 2 syns for 25g which is bloody ridiculous as they are just dried tomatoes without the oil, so up to you if you want to count the syns – 0.5 per breast) (you can swap out for tomatoes in oil which are seemingly 1.5 syns per 25g). How does that work then eh? If they’re soaked in oil, they are less syns than tomatoes dried out and then rehydrated in water? What a load of absolute nonsense, piss and shite. I’m not synning it, but you can. Anyway…

and then to make tasty quinoa stuffed chicken, you should:

  • if you’re using dried tomatoes, rehydrate them by dropping them into boiling hot water and letting them steep
  • put the oven onto 180 degrees
  • cook your quinoa – follow the instructions on the pack – we use chicken stock instead of water, cook for twenty minutes with the lid on, then take off the heat and fluff with a fork
  • cook your spinach in a little pan, no need to add oil just a drop or two of water and let it wilt right down, adding the salt and chilli flakes to season
  • blend the spinach and tomatoes and feta – not to a fine paste, just a lumpy mix – and then stir into the quinoa along with the pepper
  • now the fun part – cut horizontally through each chicken breast but not all of the way through – you want to be able to open it up like a book
  • place each opened chicken breast onto cling film or a very clean tea-towel, cover with more cling film and then bash the bejesus out of it – actually no, just give it a good pounding until they are nice and evenly thick
  • spoon the quinoa stuffing into each chicken breast, fold over the top of the breast and then secure with cocktail sticks or skewers
  • take your pan that you used for spinach (or another one, I’m not keeping that much of an eye on you), squirt some oil in, get it nice and hot and carefully place each breast into the pan for a few minutes on either side – you’re searing the outside of it
  • once this is done, put them onto a tray and into the oven for about 20-25 minutes until they’re cooked through
  • serve with your sides

Don’t cry if the quinoa falls out a bit or it doesn’t look super attractive and tidy – I mean, I don’t look super attractive or tidy either, and I get plenty!

If you’re looking for more chicken recipes, why not click on the button below and be taken straight there?

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Until the next time,

J

chicken and chorizo risotto

Evening folks!

Paul and I are having a romantic night in, he’s cooking a lovely Indian tea and I’m scratching his feet with a matchbox. For now, please accept this recipe card as a treat, but be warned, chorizo and cheese does add a few syns to the dish. YOU CAN MAKE IT SYN FREE! But, you have 105 to use every week, spend it on something good. I’ll fill out the recipe in full tomorrow and add a snack idea for you all. Goodnight! (now done, see below!)

UPDATE

Paul and I have slept for a good, reasonable twelve hours and had a Slimming World fry-up breakfast (see here for a previous post about that), so I’m back and fighting fit. I promised you a full recipe breakdown for the risotto – and an easy way to make it syn free.

ingredients: one chicken breast (diced), chorizo (optional, I use 6 syns for 60g if I chose a particularly non-fatty chorizo, and then split that between two servings), shallots, arborio rice, garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms, peashoots, philapdelphia lightest (I’ve always synned 75g of the lightest as a healthy extra A, but even then, I hardly ever use that much and it’s split between two), peppers sliced.

recipe: get everything prepared – slice the onion, peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes to roughly the same size and thickness. Dry fry gently in a good non-stick casserole pot (this is important, because you try to make this risotto in a ‘sticky’ pan it’ll burn) until everything is nice and soft. Add the chicken and chorizo and continue cooking on a medium heat until the chicken is cooked through. Once you’ve done this, add the 250g of arborio rice and coat the rice in the liquid. Stir just once, chuck in your 1l of stock and big handful of garden peas. ONE stir. Then pop the lid on the pan, keep it on a medium heat (we use 6, but we’ve got a fancy induction hob so just stick to medium) and leave for exactly 20 minutes. You can peek at it just to make sure the liquid hasn’t disappeared, but maybe just once or twice – every time you let the steam out, god kills a kitten. After 20 minutes, check the rice -it’s always spot on for me but individual hobs may vary, so let it simmer a little bit longer if there is still a lot of liquid and/or the rice is a bit crunchy. Spoon in a dollop of the soft cheese and serve it on a bed of pea-shoots. I use pea-shoots because it adds another layer of flavour, but rocket will do. Don’t be common and use lettuce though. Twist of pepper and a couple of shavings of Parmesan and you’re done.

extra-easy: yes – though I syn the recipe exactly how I do it at 4 syns, just to take on board the chorizo and cheese. You can make it syn free though – replace the chorizo with chopped bacon (with no fat), and use the cheese as your healthy extra. But I like the taste the chorizo imparts to the rice and chicken and chorizo go together so well! Plenty of superfree – fresh peas, pea shoots, peppers, mushrooms, shallots…

top tips: Paul, because he’s a pleb who was brought up on sweet and sour chicken from his local Rainbow mixed with fag ash and a general feeling of malaise, adds a big old dollop of wholegrain mustard and mixes it in, which completely overpowers any other flavour. He says that he can still enjoy it through the sound of me tutting and sucking air in through my teeth.

Enjoy it!

J