Left over chicken recipes #1 : chicken vol au vents

I can’t take credit for this easy little recipe…it has to go to my mum Lyn who I learnt so much from sitting at our big kitchen table watching her prepare our family meals at the aga. She always bought (and still does) eggs from Audrey down the road. When she had 4 children at home, she used to buy sacks of potatoes from Audrey too. She sometimes said how hard she found it to keep coming up with new dishes for the family – that everyone would like. Of course it’s taken til now for me to truly empathise.

This is a great light tea to use up left over chicken, gravy and veg.

I make my gravy from scratch. Ready made gravy powder often have MSG added – an additive that’s not suitable for children under 3 and also one that can cause adverse reactions in some children. Personally I prefer to avoid additives as much as possible.

Chicken gravy
Pour off all the juices from the chicken into a measuring jug.
Skim off the oil from the top.
If you have 100ml chicken juices you need to make the stock up to say, 500ml.
Add an organic chickenstock cube dissolve into the chicken juices and add enough boiling water to make it up to 500ml.
(I usually make ours up to 300ml which gives enough for three people with left over gravy. If you are making it up to 300ml then use half the stock cube so it’s not too salty).
Melt butter in a frying pan.
Once melted add flour and mix thoroughly and cook through for a couple of minutes.
If you are using 500ml of stock you use 50g butter and 40g flour, if you are using 300ml stock you use 30g butter and 25g flour.
Gradually add the stock a bit at a time until its all added.
Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes before pouring into a warmed gravy boat.

Chicken vol au vents

Cook the vol au vents according to instructions. I gave my daughter 2 for a light tea
Prepare the chicken – chop into bit size chunks.
Prepare any left over veg – I used carrots, peas and sweetcorn (green beans and broccoli and others would work just as well).
If you don’t have enough left over veg, prepare some uncooked veg.
Dice a small onion.
In a pan cook the onion (and any raw vegetables) in olive oil until softened.
Add the chicken and left over vegetables, stir through and then add some of your gravy – you want just enough to coat the mixture like a sauce – you don’t want it too runny. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.

Once the vol au vents are ready, fill them with the chicken mixture and serve with veg, etc.

I often buy my chickens from Owls Barn Farm shop where they give you the giblets too. These are great for making chicken stock. You put the giblets in a big pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 carrots, 1 onion, 2 leeks and fresh herbs like thyme and parsley, though if you only have dried then use dried, and 3 pepper corns. Cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for two hours. Skim off and oil from the top. After 2 hours strain through a sieve, squeezing as much stock as you can out of the vegetables.

You can also use the same method to make chicken stock using your cooked chicken carcass.

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The Deli at the Heart of Christchurch

The Heartizan Family from left to right, Ian, Linda and Thom

Take a walk down Christchurch High Street and you’re bound to pass the lovely family run Heartizan Deli. Opened just over a year ago by Linda, Ian and Thom, it brings local produce and good quality artisan foods to the centre of Christchurch.

Linda and Ian’s journey to opening the deli started with a road trip from Hastings to Cornwall. They were looking for a town where they could settle down and open a b&b, a cafe or a deli. They stumbled across Christchurch, and while the road trip continued South West, it was Christchurch that they returned to.

Their motto is “Local with Love”, and with over 200 suppliers, many of them from Dorset, you know they mean what they say. Local producers include eggs from Noah’s Ark down the road in New Milton, Naked Jam (Sopley strawberry is deliciously natural), Pig’n’pickles, Dorset Charcuterie Company, Laverstoke Farm, Guilded Teapot fine teas, Dorset Coffee, Piddle beers and Purbeck Cider co.

Bread is delivered on Friday ready for the weekend from Long Crichel organic Bakery up the road in Wimborne.

Oh and the cheese cabinet is full of delicious cheeses from Dorset and South Western counties, from Dorset Blue Vinny, Woolsery Cheese, Cornish Yarg to Lyburn cheese which is just up the road in Winchester.

The cafe serves breakfast and light lunch, including home made soups and great coffee, tea, cake and scones.

The day that I went into interview Linda, Ian was making chilli jam which is used in the deli sandwiches – it smelled so good. Ian makes home made meals such as moussaka, lasagne, and venison stew. Which are sold chilled on the day they’re made and the rest are frozen to sell on preceding days. Being home made their “ready meals” have no strange additives, no water added to the meat, aren’t high in salt or sugar, and are made using locally sourced meat (from Owls Barn Farm, Sopley and the butcher’s in Southbourne) and veg. Also being frozen all the nutrients are “locked in” unlike chilled meals from supermarkets.

The shop also supplies lovely kitchenware, and in keeping with the local ethos, Linda has just started selling handmade aprons made by a local resident.

During the hour I spent with Linda, locals were in and out ordering coffee’s, breakfasts and salad boxes to go. You do get the feeling that after just a year, Heartizan’s has become part of the local community. Linda is working with The Kings Hotel supplying bespoke picnic hampers to guests. The cafe also recently hosted a launched book launch by local author, Amy Bratley

I could write more about Heartizan’s, but don’t take my word for it, go there – I guarantee you will be welcomed with a smile and served great food and drink.

If you click through to the Heartizan website you can download and print off their 10% off voucher.

At the end of my time with Linda I asked her what she would like to see happen with Heartizan’s and Christchurch going forward. The Heartizan’s ethos is all about being at the heart of the community and bringing artisan food to the high street. Linda sees that the businesses on the high street compliment one another and she would like to work cohesively with them to promote and keep the high street thriving.

And this is needed more than ever now Christchurch Council are considering 3 possible supermarket planning applications. There is a real concern that they could take footfall away from the high street.

Currently we have a Waitrose and Co-operative supermarket just off the high street with a Lidl a short walk away and Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s and Aldi a short drive away. The question needs to be asked: do we really need more supermarkets that potentially could take business away from our lovely High Street?