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#PalateFlavours: Flame grilled baby chicken with cream spinach

May 3, 2017

 

One of Zimbabwe's famous musicians, Alick Macheso, sang a song that made sense to me for the first time listening to this genre and that song goes by the name “Charakupa denga tenda iwe…” (“Be thankful for the blessings the heavens avail”).

 

He goes on to say … “kana ndiri seni ndiri muimbi ini, ndipo pane chiraramo changu nevamwe vandinobata navo...” (“As for me - I am a musician, that is how I make a living and live together with those that are part of this band”). The song has a strong message about using your gift and being grateful for that gift.

 

So…as for me, I am a chef and that's who I am so I will give you something from the chef's platter! 

 

Flame grilled baby chicken on a bed of creamy spinach served with saffron rice and onion and tomato salsa.

 

These days everyone is all about eating healthy, shedding weight and all sorts of dieting. A lot of people have always perceived healthy food as less tastier than “junk” food and the like, but the good news is #PalateFlavours is here to make healthy food taste great! How about a twist to those boring boiled and overcooked vegetables and the usual beef stew we all know? Like the sound of that huh?!

 

This dish is very cost effective (forget the half chicken lol) and contains a very small amount of fat and carbohydrates too. White meat is more advisable to eat for dinner, and in general, as it helps you to maintain a healthy weight and digests faster.

 

Grilling the chicken gives it a better taste than boiling it or frying it as it will be saturated with fat (during frying) or water (during boiling).

 

I like to use organic ingredients and when I am home. I normally have vegetables in season in the backyard and my mom keeps chickens. Home grown chickens taste better than those sold in shops and butcheries. This is so because the latter are “fresh from the cage” and not like the former; frozen for weeks and months for commercial purposes.

 

Let's talk about the healthy vegetable most people hate; Spinach!

 

Growing up, my siblings and I hated this dark green leafy vegetable and so did our friends! I guess that's the reason why they made that cartoon “Popeye” where the character gained strength after eating spinach. Thing is, spinach is rich in iron, it improves the quality of the blood and contains many vital vitamins like vitamin K which is essential for bone health.

 

There are many ways of cooking spinach apart from the “frying” and “onion and tomato” way of cooking it, as is common to most Zimbabwean households.

 

In this dish, I used a homemade and one of the 5 basic sauces in cooking, called “Bechamel”, commonly known as white sauce. (Recipe at the end of the article). The good thing about Spinach is that, it is available all year round and if you decide to plant it in your backyard garden, you will enjoy this healthy dark green leaf vegetable throughout the year until you dig it all up. From making sauces to creamy vegetable dishes, it can also be blended to make purees and soups.

 

If you're still skeptical about spinach, then Palate Flavors is the right platform for you!

 

RECIPE

Ingredients

 

Grilled Chicken

8 Chicken pieces / full chicken

1tbs Fresh or crushed garlic

½ cup Fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Rosemary

Thyme

1tsp Honey

Worcestershire sauce

Nando’s garlic sauce

 

Creamy Spinach

Roughly chopped spinach without the white stalk

1tbs flour

1tbs butter

½ tsp garlic

500ml fresh milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Grated cheddar cheese

 

 

Chicken

 

METHOD

 

In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the chicken pieces and whisk.

 

Lay your chicken pieces on a tray or in a large bowl such that each piece is flat on the tray.

 

Pour the marinade over the chicken pieces, ensuring that all pieces are covered and mix until all pieces are covered with the marinade.

 

Place in a chiller for at least an hour to overnight for the best taste.

 

Grill over charcoal or firewood.

 

Once it is done, baste with a little olive oil and serve hot.

 

Creamy Spinach

 

METHOD 

 

In a sauce pan, melt the butter and add the chopped or crushed garlic and mix.

 

Once the butter has melted, add the flour and stir until a paste forms and the butter and flour are well mixed and no lumps are present.

 

Pour in the milk and add salt and pepper to taste and whisk to get rid of the remaining lumps. Pour the milk gradually until the sauce is not too runny nor too thick. Add the cheese and continue stirring so that it doesn’t burn.

 

Leave to simmer for at least 10mins on low heat then add in the chopped and already cooked spinach and stir. 

 

Leave to simmer for another 10 mins before serving.

 

You can use the creamy spinach as a bed for the chicken or you can pour it on top of your chicken.

 

Serve and Enjoy

 

Till next time on #PalateFlavours,

 

Chef Nyasha