Are your little cherubs planning to fly the nest this year?
A new life at college, university or even overseas might seem a bit daunting at first. But what better way to settle those nerves than arming your teens with some basic, lifesaving, buddy-making recipes that might also remind them of home. These meals won’t break the bank and are pretty much foolproof (this is a Munchkins promise!). We’ve put together a trio of favourites that can be served as larger sharing dishes with friends, or can be converted for a midweek leftover meal later on.
Perfect Roast Chicken
There is nothing simpler in life than the pleasure of a roasted bird. Everyone (apart from vegetarians or vegans of course) loves a roast chicken. Not only is this meal versatile, but it can also stretch to make a multitude of tasty dishes, days after it comes out of the oven. Use the meat for sandwiches, salads, fajitas for a Mexican twist or even boil up that carcass for a nourishing soup (more details here). This recipe is a sure fire way to get more bang for your cluck (sorry)! This recipe makes four to six servings and can be kept in the fridge for up to three days or frozen to be reheated for another meal.
1.5kg white potatoes (Maris Piper if possible), cut into quarters
1.5kg whole chicken (free range if possible)
1 large handful of fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary and/or oregano)
Freshly ground black pepper
- Before roasting, brine the chicken by placing into a large bowl and cover with room temperature water. Dissolve a small handful of salt in the water and leave to brine for at least 4 hours (or in the fridge overnight).
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
- Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add the potatoes. Parboil for 5 minutes until the potatoes just start to soften.
- Drain in a colander and transfer back into the saucepan. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the potatoes. Place a lid on the saucepan and shake and toss to evenly coat. Transfer the potatoes to a large roasting tray.
- Remove the chicken from the large bowl and discard the brine water. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel.
- Drizzle about 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the chicken and rub all over to evenly coat. Rub about 2 teaspoons of salt and a generous grinding of black pepper all over the chicken skin. Stuff the lemon halves and then the fresh herbs into the cavity of the chicken.
- Transfer the large roasting tray with potatoes onto the bottom shelf of the oven.
- Place the chicken, breast-side down, directly onto the wire rack or shelf in the middle of the oven above the roasting tray. This will make sure the breast meat cooks more slowly than the brown meat. Roast for 30 minutes.
- Turn the chicken over, breast-side up, and roast for a further 20 minutes. Check the potatoes to make sure they are starting to brown and shake the tray to loosen them if necessary.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and check that it is cooked by inserting a knife next to the breast bone of the chicken. If the juice runs clear and no blood can be seen close to the bone then the chicken is cooked. If it needs further cooking, return to the oven for another 10 minutes and check again.
- Transfer the chicken to a large serving plate or chopping board and cover loosely with foil to rest for 5 minutes.
- Remove the potatoes from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Remove the foil from the chicken and carve the meat into 4 to 6 servings. Serve immediately with the roast potatoes.
Japanese Garlic Fried Rice & Veggie Stir Fry
Think you know fried rice already? Think again. This simple, quick and gloriously tasty dish will be a hit wherever your kids are in the world. Partnered with simple stir-fried veggies, it makes a great sharing meal. You can take this recipe to even greater heights by adding in some choice proteins like chicken or tofu. Just don’t be shy with the garlic – it’s what makes this whole meal jump with flavour! This recipe makes four to six servings and can be kept in the fridge for up to two days.
Ingredients – Rice
2 tbsp soy sauce (preferably Kikkoman or another Japanese brand)
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp Mirin (Japanese rice wine)
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp fish sauce
400g cooked white pearl rice or Japanese short grain rice
10 cloves of garlic – minced (or crushed in a garlic press)
1 egg, beaten
40g large spring onions, sliced
200g (about 1 medium-sized) carrot, chopped into ½ cm cubes
½ tsp salt (plus more to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2½ tbsp vegetable oil
Ingredients – Veggie Stir Fry
½ tsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
200g onion, roughly chopped into 2cm cubes
200g carrot, roughly chopped into 2cm cubes
200g broccoli, roughly chopped into small florets
150g oyster or Enoki mushrooms
200g red pepper (optional)
Method – Rice
- In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sugar, Mirin, oyster sauce, sesame oil and fish sauce. Set aside as a sauce for the rice.
- Warm a large wok or frying pan over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and swirl around. Add the garlic and stir fry for about 1 minute, stirring continuously, until golden brown. Remove the garlic from the wok and set aside to cool.
- Using the same wok, warm another tablespoon of vegetable oil over a medium to high heat. Pour in the egg and swirl around so that it forms a thin omelette. Allow the egg to cook for 1 to 2 minutes until set. Use a spatula to cut the egg into small pieces. Remove from the wok and set aside.
- Return the wok to high heat and warm 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil. Add the carrot and stir fry for 3 to 5 minutes until softened and golden brown. Add the cooked rice and stir fry until it is loose. The wok should constantly remain at high heat.
- Add the salt, a few grinds of the black pepper and half of the fried garlic. Add two-thirds of the spring onions. Continue to stir fry for 1 minute.
- Pour the sauce over the rice and stir fry until it is evenly coated. Stir in the remaining garlic, cooked egg and spring onions and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Serve immediately.
Method – Veggie Stir Fry
- In a small bowl, combine together the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce and water. Set aside as a sauce for the stir fry.
- Warm a large wok or frying pan over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the vegetable oil and swirl around.
- Add the onion and carrot then stir fry, moving continuously for 3 minutes over high heat.
- Add the broccoli and stir fry for 3 minutes.
- Add the sesame oil and garlic and stir fry for 1 to 2 minutes, moving continuously over high heat.
- Add the mushrooms and peppers (if using) and stir fry for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Pour the sauce over the vegetables and stir fry for 2 minutes. Serve immediately with the rice.
Homemade Italian Tomato Sauce
The Colosseum, Verdi and tomato sauce. All three are the basic building blocks of Italian culture. This simple and flavour-packed tomato sauce should also be one of the building blocks of your kids’ cooking repertoire. Not only is it a classic bedfellow for beautiful al dente pasta, but it can also be used with meatballs, or as a base sauce for pizza or lasagne. This recipe will make four servings and can be kept in the fridge or frozen for use at a later date. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but this sauce can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes.
3 tbsp olive oil
50g (about half medium-sized) onion, finely diced into 2cm cubes
½ tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
730g tinned tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree (paste)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan for 2 minutes until it is glossy with a water-like consistency.
- Add the onion, salt and stir fry for 3 to 5 minutes until translucent.
- Stir in the garlic and dried herbs. Stir fry for 30 to 45 seconds until fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato puree and sugar. Stir the mixture well to combine.
- Bring the sauce to a simmer and then turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Cover the saucepan partially with a lid. Cook the sauce for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve the sauce with cooked pasta or with cooked meatballs and spaghetti.
Featured image courtesy of Getty, all other images courtesy of Melissa Au.