If there’s one thing more embarrassing than leaving a Hansel and Gretel style trail of your very frilliest knickers in a perfectly straight path from the washing machine to your bedroom in your first week in your brand new house share; it is being caught red-handed (and very red-faced), on your secret mission to stealthily take photos of every morsel you rustle up in the shared kitchen, for the food blog your new housemates don’t even know you have...
Yup, I am of course speaking from experience. Ever since I moved in with 5 (lovely) strangers 2 months ago, achieving this mission without my unassuming co-habitants considering re-listing my room (and shelf in the fridge) on Gumtree, has become my Everest. Now, it would be OK if it was just a quick snap on my phone; it’s weirder if you don’t Instagram every crumb of food that comes in to your eye-line these days, but arranging a board, on a patterned tray, draped with a piece of fancy material and finished with an artful scattering of crumbs before a plate is even slightly in the picture, is a little more unusual.
Add to this scenario the slightly strange creations that come from my fridge-raiding, use everything before buying ANYTHING approach to budgeting, and you have what I can only describe as a very cringe-worthy Tuesday night-in.
Indeed; on the Tuesday in question, my nightly treasure hunt produced an unlikely shopping basket consisting of some red grapes (at an almost raisin stage of ripeness), bacon, some green beans, a few new potatoes and a couple of chicken thighs. To some, this might seem like the slightly ill-advised shopping list of a contestant on Junior Masterchef, but to me, this was an operation well executed.
When roasted with a splash of olive oil, some lemon wedges and a good sprinkle of tarragon; the grapes produce an almost syrupy sauce for the chicken, bursting with fruity sweetness and just enough sharpness to cut through the salty, smoky pancetta. Add the golden skinned chicken, a good kick of garlic, crunchy potatoes and a good bottle of wine to get over the embarrassment, and this is a good’un for any night of the week. Go for it; grapes and garlic, who would’ve thought...
Chicken with Grapes and Tarragon (Serves 2)
4 chicken thighs
100g pancetta, cubed
A few handfuls of grapes (red or white)- some halved, some whole
6 or so new potatoes, halved
Half a lemon, cut into wedges
3 garlic cloves
A good glug of olive oil
A handful of green beans
Preheat the oven to 200oc
Fry the pancetta in a small saucepan until crispy
Arrange the potatoes, garlic, lemon wedges and grapes, before drizzling with olive oil, seasoning well and sprinkling generously with tarragon. Mix to get everything involved in the delicious seasonings
Nestle the chicken thighs into the dish, drizzle the skin with olive oil and season well
Put into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, before adding the green beans into the dish and giving everything a good shake around
Pop back into the oven and cook for a further 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked, the potatoes tender and the sauce syrupy.
Serve with a crisp green salad and an even crisper glass of white wine...