The Chicken Shop

Those of you who know me will know i have only a couple of food dislikes and am working hard to man up and get over them! First and foremost used to be cauliflower which i now enjoy in curries (see earlier cauliflower curry post) and i reckon by next year il be all over it! I have a couple recipes im keen to try including cauliflower mac ‘n cheese and cauliflower puree. So thats the first one, my next food dislike which would feature on my food hell when i get invited to Saturday Kitchen (hint hint James Martin) is…..CHICKEN! I find it boring, dry, bland and would honestly cry if someone presented me with my biggest fear which is cheese stuffed chicken breast wrapped in bacon(an ex boyfriend cooked me this once – in fact, maybe thats where my hatred comes from?!). When people find out how apprehensive I am about chicken they ask why, arguing its inoffensive, versatile and cheap, quick and easy to cook. I guess i would always just prefer fish, seafood, beef and even tofu! I will eat chicken thigh especially when Elix makes a jambalaya, chicken pie or a chicken curry, and iv mentioned before that my comfort food meal is chicken in breadcrumbs, jacket potato and baked beans and there are some nice chicken recipes i do enjoy – Rick Stein’s chicken, courgette and sobrasada with butter beans and Bill Granger’s poached chicken curry noodle soup to name a couple but all in all i try to avoid it where possible whilst still being open to new recipes and new restaurants – i loved the roast chicken at Tramshed and am a big fan of a McChicken sandwich every once in a while!

Elix tried the new Chicken Shop in Toots last week and raved about it so much we went for Saturday lunch this weekend. The concept is simple – Chicken; either whole, full, or quarter and sides including chips, coleslaw, lettuce & avocado salad and corn on the cob. Simple!
Every year for as long as i can remember our family has holidayed in Quarteira on the Algarve in Portugal and there are two amazing restaurants there (both with the same menu and owners and across the road from each other) which we affectionately refer to as Chicken Shack 1 and Chicken Shack 2 – i had to check with my Dad to find out the real name which is Marufo 1 and Marufo 2 . Anyway, i diverge – back to the food …The only things on the menu at the Chicken Shacks are roast chicken, chips and salad or fish (bream/bass/sardines), boiled potatoes and boiled veg. In one holiday Elix counted she had eaten 6.5 chickens! Again – very simple but my family assure me the rotisserie prepared chicken is the best they’ve tasted- so much so that according to Elix no other chicken has ever come close….until The Chicken Shop! FYI – i usually have grilled bream and boiled potatoes (potatoes cooked in stock gives for a soft texture and slightly salty and flavourful taste and is amazing!).

Again – i diverge so back to the bright, sunny climes of Toots and the Chicken Shop. We sat at bar stools looking out onto the glamorous Toots High st and enjoyed the chilled atmosphere. We ordered a whole chicken (goodness knows why we thought we could eat it between the two of us especially as only a couple of hours before we had munched our way through breakfasts of eggs and smoked salmon for me and an egg and bacon bagel for Elix!) with chips and coleslaw. I stuck to the thigh and leg pieces as cant handle breast just yet and they were beautiful. Delicately grilled giving a light char with a sprinkle of rock salt on top, juicy (i refuse to say the word moist!) and with a light spice seasoning to them. Skin was crispy and salty, perfect when dipped into the hot sauce! Chips were stunning – crispy on outside, fluffy on the inside with a few extra crispy bits at the bottom of the bowl – they are coated with salt and possibly an extra flavour which we couldn’t put our finger on (sorry I’m clearly a terrible blogger unable to identify this, or just ask but i was too distracted in our quest to demolish the meal i didn’t get around to it!), coleslaw was light, creamy and crunchy – a brilliant accompaniment for when i tried the smokey sauce which has a kick from paprika, chipotle, cayenne and chilli.

chicken shop

Despite the fact that we were unable to finish our main course and took half a chicken home in a doggy bag we ordered apple pie and ice cream to share for dessert – Elix is adamant that its the best she has ever tried, whilst it was amazing, lovely and rustic served straight out of the oven dish, sweet, mushy and cinnamon-y, the apple pie we ate in Amsterdam still tops my list. One of my new years resolutions for 2014 (one of many!) is to attempt to recreate it so watch this space.

All-in-all our trip to lunch at The Chicken Shop was tasty, fun and greatly assisted in helping me overcome my fear of chicken and dispense of my notion that chicken is rubbish – so much so I have included my (and Elix’s) top 5 chicken recipes for any other chicken-haters out there who need persuading that Chicken isn’t all that bad!

1. Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes – Chicken with Sobrasada, Courgettes & Butter Beans

2. Nigella Lawson Kitchen – Crisp Chicken Cutlets (chicken in breadcrumbs)

3. Hairy Bikers Perfect Pies – Chicken and Wild Mushroom Pie

4. Bill Granger’s Everyday Asian – Chicken Curry Soup

5. Mahmood Akbar’s Pakistan section in “Curry” – Desi Murgh Curry (special chicken curry)

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