HOW TO FEED A CROWD

Spiced Chicken with Sour Cherries and Pomegranate

Feed a crowd by preparing a few fabulous cold dishes then placing them in the centre of the table for your guests to dig in and help themselves. This relaxed approach means that you can make sure the food not only tastes good but looks amazing too. Most importantly  you can really enjoy the company of your friends without the stress of last minute cooking. This is a recipe I devised for one of our favourite clients for a big country gathering a couple of summers ago. It was hugely popular so when my friend Rachel asked for party food suggestions this sprung to mind. She was planning on 14-20 guests, so we decided on a salmon dish with a fresh tomato, red onion, caper and basil salsa, a vibrant orzo salad and this chicken dish.  I went along to help her prepare it and got a text first thing the next morning saying how much everyone enjoyed it.

The quantities below would easily serve 14 with salads and bread.

  • 3 x large organic chickens
  • 2 x lemons
  • 2-3Tbs olive oil
  • 3 Tbs Baharat spices – Bart’s do a good blend
  • 2 x large white onions, peeled and diced
  • 1 large pot of Greek yoghurt
  • 1 x 800g jar Hellman’s mayonnaise
  • 2 x 70g packets of sour cherries (usually found on the dried fruit shelf of the supermarket)
  • 1 x large bunch coriander
  • 1 x 110g packet of pomegranate seeds (on the prepared fruit counter, or a one fresh pomegranate if unavailable)
  1. Remove chickens from fridge, remove all packaging and string and allow to come to room temperature
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 190’C
  3. Cut the lemons into quarters and stuff into the cavities of the chickens
  4. Place the chickens into roasting pans and rub all over with olive oil
  5. Rub 1 Tbs of the Baharat spices onto the oiled chicken
  6. Wash hands well and pop the chickens into the oven – depending on oven size you may need to do this in batches
  7. Cook the chickens fo 1.5 – 2 hours. The rule of thumb is generally roast for 20 minutes per lb, then check and allow for a further 20 minutes if necessary. The way to check is to pierce the leg, and check if the juices run clear, bearing in mind that cooking more than one chicken will take longer than usual. The chicken will continue to cook once it has been removed from the oven.
  8. When you are happy the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and place on cooling racks.
  9. When the chickens are perfectly cool, remove the skin then strip the chicken from the bones in large pieces. When you have finished doing this will all the chickens, chop into bite size pieces and leave in fridge while you prepare the dressing.
  10. Heat 1 Tbs oil in a frying pan and add the chopped onions
  11. Cook, stirring for 5-10 minutes until softened then add 2 Tbs of the Baharat spices. Give a good stir and cook for a further 3-5 minutes.
  12. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. When completely cool, stir into the mayonnaise and yogurt.
  13. Soak the cherries in water for a few minutes to soften
  14. Chop the coriander and divide into half
  15. Mix half the coriander and the sour cherries into the spiced yoghurt mixture
  16. Mix into the chopped up chicken, taste and season with salt and black pepper.
  17. Place in fridge overnight, keeping the rest of the chopped coriander and the pomegranate seeds for garnish.
  18. Before your guests arrive, pile the chicken onto beautiful plates and scatter over the coriander and pomegranate seeds. Damp down some greaseproof paper, squeeze out and cover the chicken until ready to serve.

NOTES:

Baharat is an aromatic blend of spices used in Middle Eastern cooking and contains Paprika, Coriander, Black Pepper, Cumin, Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper, Cloves, Nutmeg, Cardamom. It is used in Middle Eastern cooking.

If you can’t find the sour cherries, omit them and use extra pomegranate seeds

If you are not confident about cooking meat you can invest in a meat thermometer which will be able to tell you when the meat or poultry is thoroughly cooked.

How to make Perfect Baby Meringues

Gorgeous Raspberry Meringues
Gorgeous Raspberry Meringues
Gorgeous Raspberry Meringues

This recipe is courtesy of my brother-in-law, Mark Jenkins, who thought that the meringues I made for a family party in Wales were too perfect to be home made. It is such a simple recipe – only two ingredients – but is deemed difficult for non-professional cooks. However, follow a couple of easy guidelines and it is the easiest thing in the world. Each and every time we produce these for a wedding, or any party for that matter, they go down a storm as they are simply gorgeous. So to show Mark and any other doubting Thomases – here is how you do it….

RECIPE

This amount will make 20-22 dessert size, or 40 very mini meringues for finger food

  • 2 medium egg whites, at room temperature
  • 125g white caster sugar

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 120’C/Gas Mark 1/2
  2. Make sure your equipment is clean and dry and line a flat baking sheet with baking parchment
  3. Separate the eggs, and place the whites into a bowl and whisk until they are stiff and hold soft peaks.At this point, start adding the sugar, one tablespoon at a time whisking well between each spoonful. Keep going until you have added all the sugar. Don’t be in too much of a rush to do this, and continue whisking until you have a stiff and glossy mixture ready to pipe.
  4. Fill your piping bag with a large star nozzle and pipe little rosettes onto the baking parchment, leaving space between each meringue.
  5. Place in the oven for an hour until they are crisp and dry and remove easily from the baking parchment.
  6. Turn the oven off and leave to cool in the oven before removing.
  7. Once completely cold the meringues can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Filling:

  • 150ml double cream
  • a punnet fresh raspberries (or strawberries if you’d prefer)
  • small tot of Chase Rhubarb liqueur (optional)

Whip the cream until thickened, being careful not to over whisk. Crush the raspberries with the back of a fork and stir into the cream and add the Rhubarb liqueur if using. Pile onto your favourite plate and decorate with rose petals.

NOTE: The vodka maker Chase makes some lovely vodka liqueurs and I love using the rhubarb liqueur for grown up recipes. It is fun to serve a shot of the liqueur alongside for the perfect dinner party pudding.