When I first bought the Meals for One book from BBC Good Foods, I flicked through the pages and immediately, this recipe for a chicken and butter bean stew leaped out as an immediate favourite. It seemed a little bit challenging at the time and I still don’t know exactly what a paprika is! But after weeks of experimentation, I decided to give it a go in the middle of last week.
I’m at a stage now where I feel that I can follow a recipe quite well and with some confidence. I can walk through a supermarket knowing almost exactly where to look for specific items. But when I first look down the meat aisle for skinless chicken breasts, I baulked at a price of nearly £5 for a pair!
I try not to spend more than £1 on any single item during a weekly shop. When I have to, I’ll spend about £2; only breaking that rule for one-time purchases like kitchen utensils. So, when I returned the following week, I decided to look for Quorn chicken – which, as I realised, only seems to be available in ‘pieces’, rather than anything resembling a limb, let alone a whole.
Before I go on, I’ve noticed that the quantities stated on the website are greater than those included in the book I have. The other day, I realised that I might not have included enough veg with my new-favourite pasta dish but, as it clearly states near the top of each page; this recipe does serve four people… It’s a learning experience!!
So, the first part went well. Doing all the vegetables that I’ve become familiarised with in recent weeks… I didn’t know of an effective way to crush garlic without buying another tool and my own attempts to shred it with a knife left a lot to be desired, compared to the brilliant video I found (above) over the weekend.
I was using that pie dish for this when, really, I’d have been better off buying a casserole dish, as specified in the recipe. I’ve been meaning to order one since this first attempt but, as I still haven’t done so, it seems unlikely that I’ll get to make a second attempt without looking for one locally.
Without realising until 2 days ago, I also added twice the specified quantity of butter beans – why couldn’t they list them as a 200g tin? I know I’ve seen half-tins of chopped tomatoes on the adjacent shelves.
Not having the most ideal of dishes meant attempting to improvise… I’m quickly learning that this is methodology is far more effective in the woodworking world and away from the kitchen!
It came out with the “chicken” looking a bit dry. But, I dished it in to a bowl and began to consume.
There was also a bit of a chewy taste to it and, having not eaten Quorn chicken before, I wasn’t certain that it had been cooked properly. The rest of the dish seemed okay; bar the distinct overpowering of all those extra butter beans, compared to the relatively-low volume of chopped tomatoes (another reason it looked and tasted dry).
Now, for the next day, I had a bad stomach. I remember feeling a bit ‘unable to breathe properly’ after consuming the meal and that next morning, I was in the bathroom even earlier than on an average weekday. Every time I let out some air (to put it very politely), there was that distinct stench of pepper and it survived the duration of the day. I wasn’t sick but what came out the other end didn’t look too healthy either.
My first taste of Quorn food (sausages) came just over two-years ago in my ex-girlfriend’s flat. That gave me wind and enough of a stomach-rumbling to know that it was probably better to hold-on-and-wait-to-get-home than to ask to use her toilet the next morning! It didn’t taste quite like meat but it didn’t make me ill, either. So, I continued to dissect the recipe I’d followed…
I began to think about that red pepper and questioned why it’s smell had taken to me more than any deodorant I’ve ever used. It was my first time of ‘dicing’ a pepper and I thought nothing of it… Surely, it’s like chopping another vegetable – discard the root and slice away… But having now watched Gordon Ramsey’s video (above – I don’t like the guy but I hadn’t seen how irritating and ‘perky’ he is in front of the camera), I can tell you that I most certainly included the seeds and centre (centre?) of the pepper in my meal. Is that what made me ill? Google certainly seems to suggest that the seeds can be poisonous.
So, I’m eyeing up a second attempt at this one and my fridge already contains most of the ingredients… There’s even a fresh pack of Quorn in the freezer compartment and I think that might benefit from a longer cooking time anyway. There’s another thought on avoiding the high-cost of chicken that I’ll bring to your attention as a question in another post this week.
For now, thanks for reading and please don’t forget to de-seed your peppers!!