Add a Pinch of Passion to Your Picnic

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Picnic with wine and grapes in nature. In the sunlight

The height of summer is usually a time when the days are long and the air is thick with the smell of barbecues. Unfortunately, it looks as though nature may have left those days behind altogether this year and gone right into winter where we are.

Still, we are an optimistic bunch at Ovenu and we think the sun will be back out before the fast-approaching bank holiday weekend, so here are some ideas for a total winner of a summer picnic for when the sunshine sky comes back into our lives!

So get that oven warmed up, because we’ve got a classic picnic staple on the cards for today – plus one of the best sandwiches you’ll ever taste.

Slow-Roasted Chicken

Nothing comes close to feasting on a roasted chicken. Drumsticks and thighs make amazing snacks and the rest of the meat makes for the most delicious sandwich filling. Fire up your oven the night before for this one: slow roasting is… well, a bit slow, but worth the wait.

Serves up to 4, plus additional recipe

Ingredients

When slow-cooking poultry, keep it simple – you’ll be rewarded with delicious meaty flavours that need no jazzing up to be good.

  • One good whole chicken (free-range and corn-fed tastes best!)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • A knob of butter
  • 4 hours of your time (it’s so worth it)

 

Method

  • Heat the oven to 170oC/Gas 3 (reduce if fan-assisted).
  • Prepare the chicken by removing any stray feathers and giblets.
  • Season the cavity with half the sea salt, making sure all surfaces are seasoned.
  • Rub the outside of the chicken with the butter and season the buttered skin with the remaining salt.
  • Place in the middle of the oven, breast side down, for about an hour.
  • Remove from the oven and turn breast side up. Put it back in for around another hour.
  • Repeat the last two steps: turn the chicken back on its breast side for an hour, then turn it back up for the last hour.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to cool in the open air (if you can resist picking at the soft, juicy meat, that is); save that stock for another dish!
  • Once cooled, remove the drumsticks, thighs and wings for picnic snacks (it’ll be easy as the meat will be falling apart).
  • Using two forks, shred the breast meat away from the bones and save it for a bonus recipe at the end of this post!

Homemade Cheese and Onion Quiche

Quiche is a firm favourite with us, and this simple homemade classic will really add some passion to your picnic. Set your ovens to ‘thrill’!

Serves up to 8

Ingredients

  • A knob of butter (about 25g)
  • 500g of onions, halved and sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 284ml (half a pint) of double cream
  • 140g of mature cheddar cheese, crumbled or grated roughly
  • For the pastry, you’ll need 280g of plain flour and 140g of chilled butter

 

Method

First up are pastry duties. Preheat your oven to 200oC/Gas 6 (reduce if fan-assisted).

  • Rub the flour and chilled butter together in a mixing bowl using your fingers. Once all the flour is absorbed into the butter, there should be a crumbly mixture in the bowl.
  • Add around 8 tablespoons of cold water from the tap, then use your hands to mix; the resulting dough should be only just combined, not thoroughly mixed, as that’s what makes it crumbly and biscuit-like.
  • Roll out the pastry out on a floured surface into a round shape about 30cm across (it’ll need to go into a 25cm baking tin).
  • Use your rolling pin to loosely roll the pastry up and place it on top of the tin. Use pastry scraps to push the pastry into the corners of the tin. Chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.
  • Remove the base from the fridge and lightly prick it all over with a fork. Line it with baking paper (foil works too) and fill it with baking beans.
  • Blind-bake for 20 minutes, remove the baking beans and baking paper, then pop it back into the oven for another 5 or 10 minutes, until brown.

 

While you wait, prepare your sumptuous filling.

  • Melt the knob of butter in a pan. Soften the onions.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and gradually stir in the cream.
  • Transfer the onions into the bowl as well as half to two-thirds of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper (a dash of white pepper works well).
  • Take your base out of the oven and pour in the egg mix carefully. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the egg has set and the top is a golden colour.
  • Leave to cool in the tin. Trim down any stray bits of pastry to avoid cracking when the baking tin is removed.
  • Once out of the tin, slice up into eighths – perfect picnic, here we come!

Bonus Recipe – Ultimate Chicken Club Sandwiches

Bold and beautiful, this combination is going to rock your world come picnic time! Use each ingredient sparingly for best results.

Serves 4+

Ingredients

  • Your favourite bread – use three slices per sandwich
  • Butter
  • Thin-cut maple smoked streaky bacon
  • Shredded roast chicken breast (from the last recipe)
  • Mayonnaise (the full-fat French kind)
  • Hard-boiled eggs (use one per sandwich)
  • Chopped lettuce
  • Sliced vine tomatoes

 

Method

  • Butter up your bread slices and set to one side.
  • Place up to six rashers of bacon on a microwavable plate and cover with a paper kitchen towel. Blast on full power for as many minutes as you have rashers (six rashers = six minutes). The bacon should come out super crispy. Allow to cool before handling.
  • In a mixing bowl, stir about a tablespoon of mayonnaise into the shredded chicken breast and crumble half of your crispy bacon rashers into the mixture.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, mash the boiled eggs and stir in another tablespoon or so of mayonnaise. Crumble the remaining crispy bacon into the mix.
  • Time to build: spread a layer of the egg mayonnaise mixture on top of the first slice of buttered bread and add the tomato slices. Pop the next slice of bread on top.
  • Spoon the chicken mayonnaise onto the middle slice of bread and top it with the lettuce. Put the final slice of bread on.
  • Cut the sandwich diagonally in a cross shape for triangles that are easy to eat and serve!

Your Picnic Favourites

What are your favourite picnic nibbles? Do you like to plan your picnic in advance or are you more of a spur-of-the-moment picnicker? Why not tweet or Facebook us with your top picnic grub?!

in Cooking by Rik Hellewell
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