I only buy whole chickens, as a rule. I either roast the bird for one meal, then pick off all the extra meat before making stock with the bones, or more commonly I cut it up raw (into breasts, wings and either whole legs or thighs and drumsticks) before boiling the carcass to make stock and pulling off all the rest of the meat then. Either way, I usually get 7-8 portions of meat. The one I bought on Sunday cost £7.22 and was pretty big, so assuming eight portions, that’s 90p per portion – plus I get some lovely stock as a freebie. If I bought free range chicken breasts, it would probably cost me £5 for the two!
This means that we only get chicken breasts in around one out of every four chicken meals – so when I am cooking with them, I try and make something a bit special. I never put them in pies or pasta or in anything where they need to be chopped up small – I can use the body or leg meat for that. This time, I decided to try and bake the chicken in a créme fraîche and mustard sauce. It tasted gorgeous, although the créme fraîche did separate on cooking, which I wasn’t expecting, so I might need a bit of experimentation here next time.
I was going to serve the chicken with mash and veg, but Dave requested homemade chips. The fact that he asked for them is a bit of milestone for me as chips are the one thing I’ve consistently and disappointingly failed at Every. Single. Time. I’ve made them. I mean, I like them, but Dave has hated every attempt, even preferred to eat value oven chips. Until, last week, when I gave them another go, and finally worked out how to make them relatively crisp. Recipe below, but be warned, they aren’t a healthy version – you need loads of hot oil to avoid sogginess.
Baked Chicken in Mustard Créme Fraîche
- 2 chicken breast fillets £1.80(as detailed above, my chicken works out to 90p per portion)
- 150ml créme fraîche 60p (£1.10 / 300ml, Asda
- 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard 7p (about 1/10 of the 65p jar, Asda)
- 1 1/2 tbsp white wine (optional; free as left by a dinner party guest)
Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the chicken in a baking dish. Mix the mustard, créme fraîche and wine (if using), season and pour over the chicken, moving it about a bit to allow the sauce to coat all of it.
Bake for around 35 minutes, until the chicken has cooked completely through but is still moist and juicy. Serve with veg and potatoes or chips.
£1.24 per portion.
Homemade oven chips
- About 115ml vegetable oil 17p
- Potatoes – I used three jacket potatoes, weighing 450g 40p (£2.18 / 2.5kg Tesco)
Preheat the oven to 200C (if making the chicken above it will be on anyway), put the oil in a roasting tin and put into the oven to heat up for around ten minutes.
Peel the potatoes and pat each one dry very carefully with kitchen towel. Cut into chip shapes, patting each edge dry. This sounds like a lot of faff but it’s really important to the get the chips as dry as possible.
When the oil has heated up, carefully pour the chips in and toss to make sure they are coated on all sides with the hot oil. Put back in the oven and cook undisturbed for 20 minutes or so. They should be cooked through and slightly burnt on the edges.
29p per portion. I served the chicken and chips with around 1/3 bag spring greens (33p) and 2/3 of my broccoli (54p), so the meal cost £1.97 per portion – very expensive for us but worth it as we both really liked it.