proper cheesy crunchy chicken parmo

Chicken parmo! We’ve done something similar but really cracked it with this one. A parmo is a dish originating from Middlesbrough consisting of a chicken breast smothered in breadcrumbs and cheese sauce. Plus other things – knowing Middlesbrough there’s probably about 5g of Golden Virginia scattered over it – but this is a close approximation. Bloody tasty too. But first…

Sorry, sorry – you guessed it, we’ve been away again, and it’s not as though I can announce it on here before I go because we’d doubtless get some reprobate with teeth à l’orange nipping in to steal our silver and verbally abuse our Alexa. I mean honestly. Plus, I’m writing this against the odds because I have a cat sat in front of me blocking half the screen and severely burned shoulders from too much sun. Before I get angry letters, I know I know: normally I’m super careful, but the drink overtook me. You’ll find out more about that holiday later down the line but let’s rattle off the next part of the Newcastle entry without a moment more of hesitation. If you don’t want to hear our holiday shenanigans, click on the SOUR GRAPES to be taken straight to the recipe.

Otherwise…

Now when I last spoke to you we had been busy exploring the Victoria Tunnel and I had made a malicious, mean comment comparing this foisty cavern to Paul’s mother. I apologise for my humour:  it’s a bit stuck in the eighties, it rarely makes people laugh and god knows Paul’s sick of hearing it, but that’s Paul’s mother for you.

We emerged blinking into the sunlight and full of zim for the day ahead. But first: MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Paul had decided to wear a snappy new pair of ‘yes, I am part of a senior citizen tour group of Milton Keynes’ cargo shorts (in a very fetching chyme colour) and the two hours of walking and sweating had left his thighs looking like a child’s skinned knees. Whilst it explained why the tour guide had asked the group if someone was cooking bacon at the back, it also meant we couldn’t easily explore. Well, no, I could, but it meant having to listen to Paul’s plaintive mewing about the paaaaaaaain. Oh, the pain. We doubled back to the hotel, levered ourselves into the Smart car and cut a dash straight to Byker Morrisons.

You must understand that I avoid Morrisons at the best of times – something about their lurid yellow signage and cluttered font makes my nipples ache – but the one in Byker is especially bad. You’ve never seen so much red flesh pressed into mixed polyester. We took a moment to peruse the medicine aisle for something that would cool Paul’s thighs – my suggestion of a Muller yoghurt was ignored (BUT IT’S SYN FREE) – and after much stumbling around the haemmorhoid creams and the clotstoppers, he found some lanacaine. We nipped into the gents (you know a supermarket is classy when they have that lovely lighting that makes it impossible to find a vein to shoot up with) and smeared it on Paul’s thighs like butter on a cellulite crumpet. They say you can still hear his satisfied groan bouncing around the arches of Glasshouse Bridge.

The day was ours once more. We parked the car back at the hotel and decided to try and find The Kiln, a restaurant hidden up in the Ouseburn. After a few arresting detours via a gym, a scrapyard and this particularly great bit of graffiti:

we found it. Bearing in mind it was hot and we’d spent all morning traipsing through a tunnel, we were starving and ready for our thirst to be slaked and so the sight of lots of bottles of beer all lined-up ready was enough to bring on a stiffy. However, that sharp went away when we were faced with incredibly dismissive and half-hearted service – we stood at the (quiet) bar for a good couple of minutes before we were served, weren’t offered the food menu, weren’t told where we could sit, weren’t advised on anything other than “£11” when we ordered two beers. Here, we’re the least demanding customers you’ll ever have and because we get anxious about causing a fuss we tip extravangantly, but even we have limits, and being treated like an inconvenience is high up that list.

Also, £11 for two beers? Local yes, but haway hinny, it’s Newcastle, not St. Moritz – if I buckled my ears enough I’d be able to hear the sound of a live Jeremy Kyle show rattling in the Byker Wall. Nevermind…

We paid and, sensing that we couldn’t have been less welcome had I shat on the bar, we made our way outdoors, taking the only free seats (after moving the previous occupants dishes out of the way) next to a particularly loathsome set of students. Listen, I’ve made it my thing this year to stop judging folk, I am trying, I promise. But Jesus Christ Almighty. These weren’t decent students, fun students or you know, normal students, but rather the rah-rah-raaaah set. Some walking shitshower was loudly describing his poster project as ‘mere organic foreplay for the main thrust of the movie’ – Paul had to hold me back from drowning myself in the half inch of hipster-hops I had left. Someone else was going on and on about her periods in that inexcusable ‘look at me, saying something controversial so you have to look at me, but oh my god don’t look at me’ way. Here’s a thing, pet: no-one cares what sloughs out of you, no-one is impressed by your edginess, and your glasses look like you’ve rushed out of an eye-exam halfway through. Fuck off.

We supped up and left – I took my time though as I wanted to make sure I had a fart queued as I stood up. I left them to chew that over. In the interest of balance, the online reviews of the Kiln are exceptionally positive, so maybe we’d crashed a wake or something.

Luckily, the next two places were infinitely better. First, the Free Trade Inn. I love this place – it used to be our local when we lived on the Quayside and is just a great pub – dirt cheap, no fussiness, the occasional local who looks as though he’d punch your nose through the back of your head if you sneezed and blew the head off his pint from across the room – spectacular. Nothing better than a room full of malcontent and meanness, though I tend to switch to pints instead of campari when ordering. Up until recently they had adopted a pub cat called Craig David. You’ll notice a past tense there. Life’s cruel. It also have a terrific view, see?

We had a couple of gins and tonics there and stumbled down the stairs, a bit squiffy at this point, to The Tyne, a pub under the arches of the bridge above it. We were starving by now, so I sent Paul in with strict instructions to order something a) bountiful and b) healthy. He ordered us nachos for two that almost filled the table and the vietnamese loaded fries that we ripped off a week or so ago.

There was also some sort of citrus beer involved, and things start getting a little hazy at this point, like a badly-tuned TV. I heartily recommend both pubs though – The Tyne also a free jukebox which Paul had to hold me back from. I’ve had two bad experiences with free jukeboxes, would you believe:

  • my friend and I got into a proper physical (one-sided mind, I’m a gentleman) scrap with two busty lesbians in a gay bar when we ‘accidentally’ switched the machine off and on again when we couldn’t bear to hear sapphic-superanthem ‘Left Outside Alone’ by Anastasia for the eighth time in a row; and
  • different friend, similar situation, only this time I queued up Abba song after Abba song in a bar where the inhabitants had one full set of teeth between all twenty of them – it was very much a Meat Loaf, Foreigner and Whitesnake bar – not a drunken rendition of Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight) sort of place. We escaped into the night, drowned out by shouting and Anni-Frid caterwauling her lips around Knowing Me, Knowing You.

Probably for the best that Paul kept me back.

 

We ended up sharing our outside table with a few other pleasant, decent young people with an adorable dog, though I could have done without them vaping away next to me as I ploughed my way through the nachos. Difficult trying to get the guacamole to chilli ratio just right in a cloud of custard-flavoured steam, I find.

Now, let’s leave it there – we’re already nearing 1500 words again and we need to get the recipe out!


Chicken parmo, then. Dead easy.



to make proper cheesy crunchy chicken parmo you will need:

I put this down as 1ish syns as well, I’m not synning that errant quarter. Up to you how you want to do it. And yes, I’m wheeling this out again:

WHASS PANKO PLZ HUN. I beg of you, if you have that question, click this mysterious link… Panko is not this:

to make proper cheesy crunchy chicken parma you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200°c
  • spray the chicken breasts with a little oil and plop onto a baking sheet
  • cook in the oven for about 10 minutes, then remove
  • butterfly the chicken breasts by cutting through the side until nearly all the way through, then spread open like a book (they might be pink in the middle – that’s fine)
  • in a bowl, mix together the Philadelphia and garlic, and a good grind of both salt and pepper
  • spoon the mixture onto chicken breasts and spread about
  • in another bowl, mix together the panko and parmesan, and sprinkle evenly over each of the chicken breasts
  • return to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden

Given it’s normally served with chips, red sauce and a fingering, we had to dial it back to make it more friendly for dieting, so we’ve served ours with a portion of our amazing roasties and some beans. Champion.

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Cheers!

J

all day breakfast poutine – an amazing breakfast idea

All day breakfast poutine you say? What is poutine? A Liverpudlian telling you who is running Russia? No. It’s fast food from Canada, usually consisting of sausage, chips and cheese smothered in gravy. We’ve given it a lighter spin because we’re just so good like that. But first…

I alluded yesterday to being in pain. I still am. Let me set the scene – I’m late for work and fresh out of the shower, nude, dripping (as I can only imagine you are too, dear reader, at the very thought). I hurtled into the kitchen to try and make a cup of coffee that wouldn’t take two layers of skin off my lips. I stepped over a cat to reach for the milk jug (the niceties must be observed, even at times of great urgency) and OOOH – a big shard of glass went right through the bottom of my foot. I screamed incredibly theatrically (who knew?!) and then launched into a fit of angry swearing whilst my foot dripped blood onto our freshly-cleaned floor. I don’t know what annoyed me more – the fact that SOMEONE (IT WAS PAUL) had clearly broken something and then not cleaned up properly OR the fact I’d just paid the cleaner to completely bleach our floor and now it looked like Carrie White’s gym knickers.

The cat, by the way, sat staring at me impassively, my cries of pain clearly nothing to him. I got my revenge later by giving him a pouch of Conshita cat-food from Lidl – which he also ignored.

I wish I could tell you that I made like Bear Grylls and pulled it straight out but it had slid into the pad of my foot and disappeared, probably on a fantastic journey straight to my heart. I sat on the sofa and picked away at the hole, trying not to cry, but no joy. I couldn’t stand on it because every time I put my foot down, it sank in a little more just to drive the point home. Luckily, my work are used to my Calamity James hijinks and took my blubbering and woe with good humour. I rang my doctors to see if they could maybe extract it and they coldly told me to go to a walk-in centre. We did both chuckle lightly at the irony of attending a walk-in centre whilst I was all but hobbled. Off to Wansbeck Hospital I went. I confess myself disappointed that they didn’t send the air ambulance to pick me up from my front garden, whilst I rolled around clutching my leg like I was on 999.

Upon arriving at the hospital I was somewhat distressed to see that they have decided that car-parking is a folly and that really the huge expanse of tarmac previously used for cars would be the ideal place to build some more identikit houses instead. I took a small diversion via Ullswater and ended up in their satellite car park, where I was pleasantly surprised that parking was a mere £4 for the day. I have a faint recollection of previously having to feed notes into the car park meter like a junkie at a fruit machine, so £4 wasn’t too bad. The trek to the walk-in centre was no problem at all once I’d lost all feeling in my foot and my shoe had filled with blood, and I took the small obstacle of visiting entirely the wrong department at entirely the wrong end of the giant hospital in my stride. My blood-soaked, glass-stabby stride.

From there everything happened ridiculously quickly. I was shown to a chair in the waiting room, asked to wait mere moments before being seen by a triage nurse, and then sent to x-ray. I was actually quite disappointed as I was really getting into Homes under the Hammer and wasn’t in a great mood to shift. However, my foot needed to be irradiated to make sure that I hadn’t splintered whatever was in there in my ham-fisted attempts at self-surgery. The very charming x-ray man asked me to lie on my side, which immediately exposed the top of my arse to him due to my badly-fitting trousers, and zap zap zap, my foot was x-rayed. Then x-rayed again because I had moved. Then once more for luck, and once again because we both agreed that ending the x-ray on an uneven number would be bad luck. I bet my foot glows now. I might have a midnight walk tonight dressed all-in-black so all people can see approaching them in the dark is a green disembodied foot mincing towards them, like Michael Flatley has joined The Blue Man Group. I digress.

I did have to wait for a bit whilst they tried to work out what was stuck in my foot and how it managed to penetrate my leathery soles. I was surprised myself, I’ve stepped onto a fire before and not realised for a good ten seconds. The x-rays were inconclusive – I could tell they were being polite and that actually they couldn’t see because it was like trying to find a diamond in a sea of hairy margarine – so they sent a very lovely man in to squeeze my foot.

His opening gambit? ‘This won’t hurt a bit’. Pffft. For a start, I’ve heard that line before as I’ve been climbing into bed and I’ve been left unable to shit properly for two weeks. Also: LIES. IT REALLY HURT. He was an absolute gentleman and very funny, but let’s be honest, anyone sticking a needle into an open wound on your foot is never going to rocket up your best friends list. Although, he was dishy, so…hmm. Anyway, after a good ten minutes gouging and squeezing and pressing, out popped the shard and believe me when I tell you it was relief all round. Relief for me because the pain subsidised. Relief for him as he didn’t have to look at the wound anymore. Relief for the security who were on the verge of evacuating the wards and sending my stinking trainers to the high level isolation unit.

You’ll be pleased to know that I’m alright now. It hurts a bit but I’m a big boy and I was super brave. I know I say this every single time I post anything hospital related but the NHS is just terrific. I was seen, x-rayed, talked to, treated and dispatched all within the morning. Every single member of staff, from the receptionist to the cleaners to the nurses to the x-ray man to the guy squeezing my foot, were all polite, cheery and full of happiness. I tried to make a point of saying how grateful I was but it never seems enough! I hobbled back to my car thinking about how shit it would be to have to pay for our medical treatments like they do in America. One x-ray of my foot would be $70, for goodness sake. Given I seemingly had five, I’d have expected a blowjob and a bumtickle included before I handed over $350. Still, not as though the people running the country are likely to force privatisation on us, is it? Ah fuck.

The recipe, then. All day breakfast poutine! I apologise to our good friends in Canada for what will be a total bastardisation of a national favourite – we know you’re suppose to use french fries but this was easier. So suck it, ay. I’M SORRY I’M KIDDING PLEASE LET US LIVE WITH YOOOOOU. This makes enough for four big bowls of fun, but you’ll need to add a couple of extra fried eggs.

to make all day breakfast poutine you will need:

  • 1kg potatoes
  • 6 low fat sausages (our Musclefood sausages are perfect!)
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g fat free cottage cheese
  • 300ml chicken gravy (4 syns, we usedBisto Chefs Specials Chicken Gravy with Sage & Onion)
  • pinch of salt

Listen, I know I say to dice things below, but don’t shit the bed over accuracy. It is what it is. Breakfast. You’re just going to turn it to poo anyway, doesn’t need to look beautiful. Also, watch your sausages. Make sure you pick low fat sausages and check the syns, or Mags herself will be coming round to scrawl FAT BASTID on your front door.

to make all day breakfast poutine you should:

  • cook the sausages however you like them (we cook ours in the actifry with the paddle removed), then set aside to cool
  • meanwhile, dice the potatoes into 1cm cubes, spray with a little oil (this will make the job easy) and sprinkle over a little salt
  • cook the potatoes by either dumping into the actifry for thirty minutes, or spread out evenly onto a baking sheet and bake at 190ºc until browned, turning frequently
  • whilst the potatoes cook, slice each sausage lengthways into three, and then slice across the width so you’re left with tasty sausage chunks
  • next, prepare the ‘curds’ by plopping the cottage cheese into a sieve and give a quick rinse so you’re left with the pearls – leave to drain until you need them
  • heat a large frying pan over a high heat and spray with a little oil, and fry the eggs to your liking
  • make up the gravy and set aside
  • when the potatoes are cooked, tip into a big bowl and mix in the sausage pieces and three quarters of the cottage cheese
  • divide onto four plates, top with a fried egg and the remaining cottage cheese, gravy and a little bit else of what you fancy (we used chives!)

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J