Thursday, 18 November 2010

Chicken and leek in white wine sauce

It still bemuses me that I can't thicken sauces with cornflour to save my life, yet I can casually, and with no thought at all, make a perfect roux every time. So, it must be easier than you think - give it a go!

1lb chicken thighs, skinned
1tsp chopped garlic
1tsp dried tarragon
Splash rapeseed oil
375ml white wine (Visionario Binaco Delle Venezie 2008)
1 large onion, diced
2 large leeks
1 1/2 oz butter (unsalted)
1 1/2 oz plain flour
100ml semi-skimmed milk

Heat oil, garlic, onion and tarragon. Sear chicken thighs. I used a large frying pan for this stage, then turn down heat, decant into saucepan, add 250ml wine and chopped leeks. Simmer for 30-45 mins (in my case, while roasting squash, parsnip and carrot to go with it) and make white sauce.

Melt butter over a low heat, then stir in the flour until it forms a paste coming cleanly away from the sides of the pan. I used the frying pan, thereby deglazing it at the same time. When you have your paste, remove from the heat, add 100ml cold wine, and beat until smooth. I randomly added a further 150ml or so of cold milk, beat until smooth. Next I strained the wine stock from the saucepan with the chicken and gradually added this to the sauce. When it was all incorporated, I poured it back over the chicken and leek mixture and simmered for a further 5-10 mins or so. You can add more wine (or milk, or water) if it gets to thick during this stage, but do it carefully!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Remembrance Day: an apolitical, secular mark of respect

They shall not grow old, as we who are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning:
We will remember them.

(From "For The Fallen", by Laurence Binyon)

I was musing over this post this morning, but this article in the Daily Telegraph has changed my slant somewhat from quiet respect for the Serivcemen and Servicewomen who have given their lives, to quiet fury at the disrespect shown by some people. Firstly, one of my professors ignored a student's request for 2 mins silence at 1100 when his class over-ran its 1055 finish. Then I found the above article, and feel that it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the tradition, as well as an ironic lack of appreciation that many of those who died, did so to enable the continuation of free speech and assembly.

Remembrance Day is, formally, held to mark the end of the First World War and to commemorate all those who have fallen in the two World Wars, and other conflicts since. To me, it is a chance to remember and reflect on the futility of war, and to respect and to honour those who have died for their country. To me, the country, race, religion or creed of the fallen is irrelevant: the whole of humanity has suffered from the fighting of the 20th and 21st centuries, and all deserve respect for their sacrifice.

From the fields of Ypres on a cold, wet November day:

to the heat and humidity of the River Kwai and Hellfire Pass:

Allied and foreign troops' cemeteries and battlefields stretch across the globe. This is not a day for religion: soldiers of all religions have died. This is not a day for politics: regardless of the rights and wrongs of the wars, soldiers of all political stripes and none have died. This is not a day for points-scoring: it won't bring back the dead, and it won't help us finding lasting, peaceful solutions to the conflicts raging today.

Today is a day for respect, for rememberance and for honour.

"When you go home, tell them of us and say:
For their tomorrow, we gave our today"

(From a poem by John Maxwell Edwards)