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Oops - Burnt the Dinner!

Oops - Burnt the Dinner!

Saturday 25th February 2017

As a qualified chef and an experienced "experimenter" of all cuisines, I have had my fair share of disasters in the kitchen - today happened to be the latest creation of doom in the oven! In my defence, I was working with The Aga (a loved family member in our house) and if you're easily distracted, problems can occur in the Aga, like today.

For those of you unaware of the advantages and disadvantages of such a cooking beast, one of the problems you may encounter, is the fact the Aga does not emit cooking smells. It also has no lit up display window to lovingly watch your creation as it develops in to the dish of the day. So, with no beautifully fragrant aroma, tantalizing your impatient family and no reminder, whatsoever that you have anything in the oven, a few forgotten dishes have found their way to Bin Heaven.

I was not giving in to today's cremation, rather than creation. I had purchased some handsome free range, plump chicken legs and dinner was going to be a wonderful simple affair of herbs, oil, paprika and lemon. I had flavoured accordingly, said my "farewell" and closed the door of the hottest roasting oven, knowing I would need to move down in to the simmering oven within 15-20 minutes or so. A telephone call and forty minutes later, things weren't well in the Roasting Oven. *Note - Aga owners usually own and number of kitchen timers, in all shapes and sizes, I am one of those, yet I failed to use any of mine today.

So, as expected, see photo - the aromatic chicken legs were looking a little frazzled and ready for some sort of funeral. I was not deterred though, these little folk were going to be dished up and they were going to be GOOD!

Over the years I have rescued many a dish - some have been lost with no hope, like the crème brulees; a rather embarrassing event which resulted in me retrieving 6 ramekins from the baking oven three days after they went in! No burning smell or realisation until I wanted to use the ramekins for something else and a dawn of light washed over me! Shh! We may need to keep that between ourselves! So, the chicken hadn't quite reached that stage so as far as I was concerned, it was still game.

Most burnt food items, placed at a high heat, can still have something edible below, so that's what I did. Armed with pick axe (a.k.a fork), I hacked away at the outside to reveal some surprisingly "moist" (ugh, can someone please come up with another word, meaning the same, please??) chicken. I looked through the cupboards to find a languishing Five Spice jar and Hoisin Sauce - the rice was already cooked - voila! Chinese chicken tonight!

After shredding the chicken off the bones, stirring in some five spice, adding some stock and the hoisin sauce, a little bit of corn flour (mixed with water) and some splashes of tamari, crushed garlic, squeeze of honey, I bubbled this mixture until soft, shredded and deeply flavoured. The rice, some toasted sesame seeds and steamed greens finished the meal off nicely.

As I served up the chicken, I realized I also had sweet potatoes and all the ingredients for a BBQ sauce (or I could have used the sneaky bottle of good quality one in the cupboard). There were still options for a pretty good feast, regardless of my schoolboy error. I'm also sure I could have created some Mexican assemble with the tinned beans, fajita seasoning and peppers I had kicking about too.

The main thing I have learnt over the years; is to not panic. Go in calm, retrieve what is still edible and then work from there. What could it be used for? What do you have in your cupboard to make good this situation? I'm rather lucky as I have a store cupboard I could probably live off from for 3-4 weeks, but I am able to suggest a pretty good "store base" for you...which I will have look in to for another blog when I cleaned up this mess!! timers, where the heck are you all???