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MasterChef quarter-finalist Hannah Gregory takes comfort food to a new level and goes wild about garlic




I have a dirty secret to share with you. A filthy, dirty secret that I just can’t keep secret any more. I live with a beige lover. My darling partner, all he wants to eat is beige. Night upon night I feed him like a king and when I actually ask what he wants to eat (as opposed to plonk something in front of him and tell him to hold the ring light while I photograph) all he wants is beige. Potato smilies, waffles, chicken nugs, fish fingers, maybe a bean or two if he’s feeling exotic. But his favourite of all things beige? A chicken kiev. Now don’t get me wrong. I have enjoyed many a kiev in my time, albeit mostly when I was a child and then an impoverished student, but there is something fantastically comforting about golden breadcrumbs, soft chicken and gorgeous oozy garlicky butter. It is the ultimate comfort food!

In order to chef things up a bit and make use of the abundance of wild garlic that is surrounding us at the moment, I decided to pimp the humble kiev, but I’m not stopping with just wild garlic. Let’s take this to the next level with a pancetta and crispy chicken skin wild garlic butter. That’s right. You heard. The crispy skin and pancetta running through the butter gives an amazing texture and a big salty hit to cut through the garlic. It’s good. It’s real good.

A bit about wild garlic – I LOVE WILD GARLIC. I love foraging for it and loading up bags free of charge even more. We are fortunate in Suffolk that there are crops of it just about everywhere. It’s had an early season this year but there is still some lurking about. It grows in dense clumps, often in woodland and damp areas. You will smell if before you see it as its pungent, garlicky fumes fill the air. If you are going on a wander, remember the forager’s fundamentals: only take what you need, don’t pick the roots, leave no trace. Wild garlic freezes well, portion it out and pop it in freezer bags or chop it and freeze it in oil in an ice cube tray. The butter will keep for two weeks in the fridge or up to six months in the freezer. Alternatively, make the butter as here and then wrap in clingfilm and freeze. You can, of course, use regular garlic in this recipe – I just like to feel fancy pants.

And lastly, a word about chicken. I always have to have the last word about chicken. I’ve said it once, I will say it again, wherever possible buy your chook from a butchers or reputable retailer. It is especially worth the effort for this recipe as you always get a bigger boob when not buying from a supermarket, which means it’s easier to pocket, easier to fill and you can get loads more butter in – which let’s face it, is the real reason we’re all here. Also, you need the breasts with the skin on, which is easier to find at a butchers than at the supermarket.

Serve this with whatever you fancy. I opt for crispy kale and new potatoes. If Jon had his way, it would have been potato smilies and beans. Oh, and what was Jon’s verdict I hear you ask? “It’s pretty good. I don’t know why you have to fix something that ain’t broken though.”

Give me strength.

PIMPED CHICKEN KIEV FEATURING PANCETTA, CRISPY CHICKEN SKIN AND WILD GARLIC BUTTER (SERVES 2)

Tipple of choice: a tasty little white burgundy chard

Spotify Playlist: WanderSups Date Night

Ingredients:

2 skin on chicken breasts

250g unsalted butter (this will yield more butter than you need, but then you’ll have loads of delicious goodness left over to freeze. . . or eat slathered on toast – each to their own)

A handful of wild garlic or 2 fat garlic cloves

4 rashers of pancetta

60g plain flour

1 egg

100g fresh breadcrumbs

Salt and peps

Sunflower oil for frying

Method:

Bring the butter to room temperature. Chop the wild garlic leaves. Pop the butter and garlic into a blender with a pinch of salt and blitz until combined. If using regular garlic, mince the cloves into the blender and blitz until combined.

Lay a sheet of cling film on a work surface and tip the butter onto it, roll tightly to form a cylinder and twist the ends to make a tight sausage and pop into the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Carefully remove the skin from the breasts and lay flat on a chopping board outer skin side down. Using the back of a knife scrape ofF any excess fat so you are left with super thin skin.

Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and carefully place the chicken skin on to it, stretching it out so it’s as thin as possible, sprinkle with flaky salt and a drizzle of olive oil, lay another sheet of greaseproof paper over the top and then place another baking tray on top of that to ensure the skin stays flat while you cook it.

Place in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Once the time is up, check on it – it should be a nice golden brown. If it needs a touch longer, at this point take off the top baking sheet and layer of greaseproof paper and put it back in the oven for a couple of minutes.

Heat a dry frying pan till hot, place the pancetta in and fry until crispy. Remove from the heat to cool.

Put the chicken on your chopping board so the fat end is facing you, the narrow end facing away. With a small knife make an incision in the thick top part of the boob. Pop your finger in and give it a wiggle.

Remove the butter from the fridge and slice off 2 discs about 1cm thick. Quarter these so you have 8 cubes of butter. Now to fill your hole. Pop a cube of butter into the incision then gently massage the breast to push it down as far as it will go. Crumble in some chicken skin and pancetta. Keep repeating the process till each boob is filled with the butter, pancetta and chicken skin.

Set up three bowls to pane your chicken – one with seasoned flour, one with a beaten egg and one with the breadcrumbs.

Fill a pan with 2cm of oil and heat to 180C. If you don’t have a thermometer you can check this by sprinkling some breadcrumbs in, they should go golden and crispy instantly and the oil should be shimmering.

Dredge the chicken in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. I like to really press the breadcrumbs onto the surface to make sure everything is coated and ensure that golden crunch.

Carefully lower the chicken into the oil and fry for 3 minutes on each side until golden.

Remove from the oil and pop onto a baking tray and into the hot oven for 10 minutes.

Serve with vegetables, or something beige if you’re that way inclined, but make sure to drizzle any garlicky cooking juices from the baking tray over the top.

Find out about Hannah’s upcoming Supper Clubs and what she is currently cooking via Instagram @WanderSups or see wandersups.com