It's been a while since I posted a seasonal recipe, so I thought when better to start again than for Shrove Tuesday aka pancake day? My dog walk yesterday took me along the wild garlic stream near the farm. The aroma hit me even before I was off our field and onto the lane. It brought back memories of making wild garlic pancakes last April and inspired me to try a twist on a chicken kiev for supper last evening - using wild garlic and mozzarella instead of garlic, herbs and butter. I hope you enjoy trying them out in coming months as wild garlic becomes even more abundant, and if you don't have any near you then of course substitute some garlic and herbs of your choice.
(A similar footpath flanked by wild garlic is pictured on the front of March's issue of Devon Life where we also happen to have a competition to win a stay here at Blackdown Yurts. Get entering if you haven't already as it closes on 11th March at 11.45pm. Link at the bottom of this blog!)
As it's still only February, the wild garlic flowers aren't out yet and many of the leaves are quite small, but some were a bit more advanced and large enough for me to pick a handful. Wild garlic is fabulous with fish, chicken and in salads. It can also make a punchy pesto, as it kind of covers the basil and garlic in one. These wild garlic pancakes were first introduced to my children when they attended our local forest school on a holiday day camp. If you want to know what Children of the Forest is like see our review here. They welcome non-local children on their holiday clubs so if you fancy giving your little ones a taste of the wild on your holiday (and you a day off!) take a look. They also have a family festival coming up on 5th April with fun for everyone. Find out more on their website.
I always like to have a savoury pancake on Shrove Tuesday before leaping into the lemon/sugar/chocolate spread territory. Any excuse to double, triple or even quadruple pancake! Usually I do a mushroom/cheese/ham crepe type affair but I think tomorrow I might combine these two recipes and do wild garlic pancakes with some sautéed chicken, perhaps in a cheese sauce, to make a sort of chicken kiev crepe fusion. Hmmm. Salivating already at the thought of it. Here's the recipe for wild garlic pancakes.
Wild garlic pancakes
10tbsp self raising flour
milk (see method for quantity)
a few leaves of wild garlic (rinsed and patted dry on kitchen towel)
Mix the flour and eggs together with a pinch of salt. Add enough milk to make a thick creamy batter if you would like thick pancakes (or drop scones). Add more milk to make a thinner batter (the consistency of single cream) if you like thinner pancakes. Chop or tear a couple of wild garlic leaves and add to the batter.
Cook in a thick-based (preferably non-stick) frying or crepe pan greased with a small amount of oil or butter. When cooked on one side flip over. This recipe should make approximately four thick pancakes/drop scones or eight thin pancakes/crepes if diluted.
Best served warm, we ate them with crispy bacon and fresh tomatoes. You could top with grated cheese and roll up.
I had a date night with my youngest yesterday evening as my husband is abroad filming and my daughter was caving in the Mendips with school. They are both almost entirely vegetarian these days, so when Felix and I are on our own we like to indulge in a little meat (he likes to remind me he is a "meativore!". He requested chicken kiev, but to be honest I worry about the provenance of some of the cheaper, reconstituted chicken you get in many of the supermarkets. Instead I like a proper chicken breast that I know has been well-reared and organic where possible. While on my walk this morning I hit on the idea of making our own using the wild garlic I had picked. So I put my money where my mouth is and stopped at our newest local farm shop Fordmore which is on the A373 between Cullompton and Kentisbeare. Their exciting news is that a cafe will be opening on 23rd March so in time for our Easter visitors.
Fordmore have their own organic pasture dairy cows and organic free-range chickens. I like that the fresh meat is packaged for you in paper rather than plastic. It was more expensive than the standard chicken in a supermarket but I was really quite surprised to see that it was half the price of organic, free range chicken from a well-known supermarket chain. I paid £9.99 a kilo and got four really meaty breasts for just over £11. One breast would easily do two people in something like fajitas or a stir fry when vegetables are added.
Besides the chicken, I also stocked up on their smoked and unsmoked back bacon for the freezer. Their outdoor-reared pork is sourced from the Snells at Kentisbeare (very close to Blackdown Yurts and relatives of the last true farmers who lived here at Halsbeer Farm). We see their happy piggies in the fields on the way to the school bus in the morning! I've also taken a punt on some of their more unusual items in the form of thai chicken burgers - we often have a "build your own burger" night on a Saturday at home. Depending who is choosing that week it may take the form of vegetarian bean burgers, beetroot and halloumi, chicken, lamb or beef. We sometimes add houmous to make it a bit moroccan in style, or avocado, pesto, chilli mayo and the like, but never before have we tried thai-style. I shall have to consider what accompaniments to serve with them and what type of bun. Hmmm. Anyway, I digress, back to today's recipe...
Forager's Chicken Kiev
So called because I foraged the wild garlic (not the chicken!). I adapted a crumb recipe from Joe Wick's book Lean in 15 (The Shift Plan). This book was recommended to my by some neighbours in the village when my husband and I were trying to get a bit fitter and lose some weight. Felix and I first made "my oaty chicken" as Joe does it in the book and it was really good. I changed it to create a kiev and added a bit of mozzarella and parmesan cheese but you could leave that out if you were dairy intolerant (or didn't have any to hand).
Ingredients (to serve 2):
In a shallow dish, mix together the oats, almonds, parmesan, paprika, salt and pepper. Set to one side while you prepare the chicken.
Slice underneath the fillet of the chicken breast to open it out a little. Place a few wild garlic leaves and half a handful of grated mozzarella inside and close the chicken up again. Secure with a few cocktail sticks or skewer if it keeps opening up.
Dust the filled chicken breasts with flour, dip into the beaten egg, shaking off any excess, then coat on all sides with the oat/almond/parmesan mixture, pressing it onto the chicken to ensure an even coating.
In his recipe, Joe Wicks, flattens the chicken breasts out to form a sort of escalope so they are thinner to fry. As we have kept them fatter they will need longer cooking. I started mine off in a frying pan over a medium heat in which the oil had been heated before popping the chicken in.
Brown for a few minutes on each side and then pop the whole pan (if oven proof) into your oven or Aga at about 180 degrees (160 fan) to finish cooking all the way through. Mine were really quite chunky so I gave them about 25 minutes but you can check they are cooked by cutting into the thickest part to make sure it is no longer pink.
One of my favourite things to serve with chicken kiev (and which I think I got from school eons ago) is boiled rice with peas and sweetcorn. Any opportunity to get more veg into the children taken! (Remember to always rinse rice before cooking to remove its starchy coating but also to remove any traces of dirt or chemicals from the surface.)
These were really delicious. The chicken was so moist and succulent, the flavour of the wild garlic just enough without being overpowering. The mozzarella was pleasingly stringy in the middle and deliciously browned where it had peeked out during cooking. I really liked the addition of a bit of parmesan to the crust, where you get lovely texture from the oats and a hint of almond. Scrummy.
Change it up:
If you prefer a more conventional Kiev without the mozzarella filling, chop the wild garlic and squish it into a bit of chilled butter and salt and pepper and use that to fill the chicken instead.
If you don't want to bother with a crust just wrap the chicken breast in a couple of pieces of bacon after filling and then secure with the cocktail sticks.
Obviously if you have a nut allergy just substitute more oats or some breadcrumbs. I have heard you can use crunched up cornflakes but I've not actually tried that myself. Just experiment (some might say "play with your food", it's fun.
Yum yum. Enjoy! And have fun flipping pancakes tonight!