Creamy chicken saagwala

My kids call this “Green butter chicken” and they absolutely love it. It’s fairly close to a traditional saagwala except it’s cooked off the bone and I make it a bit sweeter and with more cream.


2 bunches spinach

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 stick cinnamon

6 cardamom pods

1 tsp cloves

1 onion, finely chopped

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp grated ginger

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

½ tsp chilli powder (optional, or to taste)

1 tbsp garam masala

3 tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 kg Lilydale free range chicken thigh fillets, cut into 5cm pieces

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

¼ tsp grated nutmeg

150 ml thickened cream

25 g butter


Wash the spinach well, trim and discard the root portion and place the leaves and stems into a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over the spinach and leave for 1 minute. Drain, then puree the spinach in a blender.

Heat a large pan over medium heat and add the oil and the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and onion. Fry the onion for about 3 minutes until it starts to brown, add the garlic and ginger and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, chilli and garam masala, stir and then immediately add the tomatoes. Cook for about 2 minutes until the tomatoes soften, then add the chicken. Fry the chicken for 3 minutes, then add the salt, sugar and stir in the spinach puree. Cook uncovered for about 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through, then add the nutmeg and stir through the cream. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary, then stir through the butter and serve.

Chicken and broccolini with XO sauce

A simple stir-fry of chicken thigh and broccolini doesn’t require any blanching etc. to prepare the vegetables so it’s a fast dinner. I make my own XO sauce, but some commercial varieties are really good too.


400 g Lilydale free range chicken thigh fillets, cut into 5cm pieces

2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra

1 small onion, cut into small wedges

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 large red chilli, sliced into 3-5 slices diagonally

1 bunch broccolini, sliced diagonally

1 tbsp Shaoxing wine

1 tbsp XO sauce

salt, to season

1 tsp cornflour mixed with ¼ cup cold water

Chicken marinade

½ tsp cornflour

½ tsp sesame oil

½ tsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp Shaoxing wine


Combine the chicken with the chicken marinade ingredients and stir to coat.

Heat a wok over high heat and add the oil. Add the chicken to the wok in a single layer and fry without stirring for about 2-3 minutes until one side of the chicken is well-browned. Toss the wok and continue to cook the chicken for another 2-3 minutes until barely cooked through. Remove from the wok and set aside.

Heat a little more oil in the wok and add the onion, garlic and chilli. Toss until the garlic is fragrant, then add the broccolini and toss until the broccolini is softened (about 3 minutes). Return the chicken to the wok and season well with salt. Add the Shaoxing wine and XO sauce and toss to combine. Drizzle in a little cornflour mixture while tossing the wok until the XO sauce sticks to the chicken and broccoli. Remove from the wok and serve.

Chicken Paprikash

Chicken paprikash is stroganoff’s less famous cousin, but it’s possibly even easier to make and even more delicious. Free range chicken thighs are braised in stock with paprika and tomato paste, and then finished with sour cream. Served with buttered pasta.


50 g butter, plus 25 g extra for the pasta

1 onion, diced

1 green capsicum, seeds removed and diced

5 cloves garlic, sliced

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp flour

2 tbsp sweet paprika

1 kg chicken thigh fillets, cut into 10 cm pieces

500 ml chicken stock

150 ml sour cream

500 g fusilli, orecchiette or other short pasta

1 tbsp finely shredded parsley leaves


Heat a large casserole dish over medium heat and add the butter, onion and capsicum and fry for about 5 minutes until the onion is softened. Add the garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Toss the chicken in the flour and add to the pan with the paprika as well. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer covered for 15 minutes, then stir through the sour cream.

While the chicken is simmering, cook the pasta according to the packet directions, drain and toss through the extra butter. Serve the chicken alongside the pasta, scattered with parsley.

Chicken drumsticks with porcini and chardonnay

This is a simplified version of the classic French poulet au vin jaune. Drumsticks braised in porcini stock, mushrooms and chardonnay. It’s spiked with a little brandy too, and finished with cream. Truly delicious.

Serves 4


20 g dried porcini mushrooms

2 tbsp vegetable oil

8 Lilydale free-range chicken drumsticks

salt, to season

50 g butter

1 large onion, peeled and diced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

250 g sliced Swiss brown mushrooms

4 bay leaves

6 sprigs thyme

250 ml chardonnay

2 tbsp brandy

150 ml thickened cream

1 tsp finely shredded parsley leaves


Cover the porcini mushrooms in 2 cups of hot water and stand for 15 minutes. Heat a large chef pan over high heat and add the oil. Fry the drumsticks in batches until well-browned, then remove from the pan.

Add the butter to the pan and fry the onion for about 3 minutes until fragrant. Add the garlic and mushrooms and fry for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are lightly browned. Add the porcini to the pan with the other mushrooms and return the drumsticks to the pan along with the herbs. Cover with the porcini steeping liquid, wine, brandy and top up with a little more water to cover the drumsticks. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the cream and simmer for a further 10 minutes uncovered. Taste and adjust seasoning. Scatter with parsley. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad.

Chicken breast with garlic and black bean dressing

I use a steam oven to safely cook the chicken to 62C. (Holding it at that temperature for just 10 minutes will pasteurise it so that it’s entirely safe to eat.) If you don’t have a steam oven you can poach the chicken in water at a very, very low simmer (basically just steaming) for about 15 minutes.


¼ cup canola oil

½ small onion

5 cloves garlic

1 tbsp salted black beans

¼ tsp sugar

2 tsp soy sauce

¼ tsp sugar

2 chicken breasts

a handful of coriander sprigs, to serve


Bring a large pot of water to a very low simmer and add the chicken breasts. Simmer over very low heat for about 15 minutes then remove and rest for 3 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking add the canola oil to a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes, add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring regularly until the garlic is golden brown. Add the black beans and sugar and cook for a further minute until the black beans are fragrant. Stir through the soy sauce and remove from the heat.

Slice the chicken and spoon over the dressing. Garnish with a few coriander sprigs and serve.


Honey Chicken

Honey chicken is a classic Australian-Chinese dish. Deep-fried battered chicken tossed through a sweet and savoury sauce made with honey and soy sauce. Kangaroo Island in South Australia is home to the world’s last remaining population of Ligurian bees. They were brought to Australia in the 19th century and since then have become extinct in their native Italy. The Black Summer bushfires threatened to wipe out this unique bee species, but their stocks are recovering.


500 g chicken breast, cut into long strips

1-2 litres oil for deep-frying, plus extra for wok frying

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds, to serve

Alkaline batter

1 egg white

½ cup plain flour

¼ cup cornflour

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ cup cold water

¼ tsp salt

Honey sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cm ginger, grated

¼ cup Ligurian honey

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

¼ cup water

1 tsp cornflour


Combine the chicken with the ingredients for the batter and mix to combine. Set aside for at least 15 minutes. Combine the ingredients for the honey sauce and stir well.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan to around 175C. Fry the chicken in batches for about 5 minutes until cooked through, then heat the oil to 200C and fry the chicken again in batches until brown and crisp.

Heat a wok over high heat and add a touch of oil, then add the honey sauce. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 2 minutes until thickened. Add the fried chicken and toss to coat in the sauce. Remove to a plate and scatter with sesame seeds to serve.

Apricot Barbecued Chicken

The chicken is slow-roasted for 2.5 hours making it fall-apart tender, and slathered in a barbecue sauce made from apricots, then the pan juices are turned into a dresing for the salad. A very economical dish that has the added benefit of leaving you with plenty of homemade barbecue sauce for the remainder of the warm weather.


1 whole Lilydale free range chicken (around 2 kg)

salt, to season

2 onions, peeled and quartered

25 g melted butter

4 apricots, halved

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp finely shredded parsley

3 cups mixed baby salad leaves

Apricot barbecue sauce (makes extra)

1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped

1 carrot, roughly chopped

6 apricots, halved with seeds removed

2 bay leaves

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup tomato passata

¼ cup white vinegar

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

½ cup soy sauce

2 tbsp dark soy sauce


For the barbecue sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer covered for 20 minutes until the fruits and vegetables are softened, then allow to cool to room temperature. Blend in a high-speed blender until smooth. (Pass through a sieve if your blender is not fast enough to get the sauce smooth.) The barbecue sauce will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 2 months.

Heat your oven to 150C (130C fan). Cut the backbone out of the chicken with kitchen scissors and flatten the chicken by pressing on the keel bone. Place the onions in the base of a roasting tray, add the chicken on top and season the chicken very well with salt. Roast for 2 hours uncovered.

Combine ½ a cup of the barbecue sauce with the melted butter and brush all over the chicken. Roast for a further 30 minutes, then remove the chicken to a serving plate to rest.

While the chicken is resting, chargrill the apricot halves until blackened, then transfer to a bowl with the onions from the roasting tray, about 2 tbsp of fat and juices from the roasting tray, and the apple cider vinegar. Mix through the parsley and use this mixture to dress the salad leaves. Serve with the chicken.

Fire Chicken with Blue Cheese

The Korean name for this dish is buldak, which literally translates to “fire chicken”. Usually served topped with bubbling mozzarella, using blue cheese instead plays off the savouriness of blue cheese with the hot and sweet sauce similarly to how buffalo wings in the USA are served with a blue cheese dip.


1 kg chicken thigh fillets

1 tbsp vegetable oil

200 g blue cheese

2 tbsp Korean or Japanese mayonnaise, to serve

sesame leaves (Korean perilla), to serve (optional)

pickled daikon, to serve (optional)

1 spring onion, sliced, to serve (optional)

Fire chicken sauce

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp Korean chilli powder (mild or hot, as you prefer)

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp gochujang (Korean chilli paste)

2 tbsp honey or mul yut

2 tbsp soy sauce

3 cloves garlic, peeled

2 cm ginger

½ large nashi (Asian pear), peeled and finely grated or pureed


Trim the fat from the chicken thighs and cut into 5 cm pieces. In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the fire chicken sauce and mix to combine.

Turn on your oven’s overhead grill. Heat an ovenproof frying pan over high heat and add the vegetable oil. Fry the chicken in batches until lightly browned, then return all the chicken back to the pan and cover with the fire chicken sauce. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and crumble over the blue cheese. Place under the grill and grill for about 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Sichuan Beer Duck

This fragrant duck dish combines the sweet and numbing heat of Sichuanese spices with fresh aromatics, all braised together in a light beer sauce. It might sound weird but if you’re a fan of Sichuanese cuisine, this is one dish you can’t miss.


1 block konnyaku (móyù)

½ duck, cut into pieces

¼ cup canola oil

6 garlic cloves, bashed

4 slices ginger, bruised

4 spring onions, cut into 5cm lengths

¼ cup dried chillies, cut into 2 cm lengths

2 star anise

1 black cardamom

1 piece cassia

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns

¼ cup doubanjiang

2 tbsp soy sauce

500 ml light-style beer

1 tbsp sugar, to taste

½ tsp salt, to taste

2 large green chillies, cut on a diagonal

1 red capsicum, cut into large pieces

1 small red onion, thinly sliced, to serve

coriander leaves, to serve.


Place the konnyaku into cold water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, then drain. Cut into 5cm pieces. Blanche the duck in boiling water for around 5 minutes, then drain.

Heat a large frying pan or wok over high heat, add the oil and fry the duck for a few minutes until lightly browned. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute, then add the dried chillies, star anise, black cardamom, cassia, bay leaves and Sichuan peppercorns. Add the doubanjiang, soy sauce. beer and konnyaku and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with sugar and salt to taste.

Add the green chillies, capsicum and spring onion and simmer for a further 5 minutes until the capsicum is softened, then stir through the sliced red onion. Serve garnished with coriander.

Roast Pork Banh Mi

Its popularity in Vietnam is unparalleled, but the banh mi might be Australia’s favourite sandwich, too. This roast pork version is absolutely delicious and if you’ve never made a banh mi yourself, it might be time to roll up your sleeves and get started.


Vietnamese roast pork (thit heo quay) – makes extra

2 kg pork belly

½ tsp white pepper

1 tsp five spice powder

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp salt, for salting the skin

Daikon pickle

½ daikon, peeled and cut into 1cm square batons as long as your rolls

1 tbsp salt

¼ cup white vinegar

2 tbsp caster sugar

Banh mi seasoning

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce

½ tsp caster sugar

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

To serve

6 crusty bread rolls

Vietnamese patê

½ cup Japanese mayonnaise

12 slices of Vietnamese pork loaf (cha lua)

2 cucumbers, sliced into batons as long as your rolls

2 carrots, grated with a julienne peeler

spring onion, green part only cut into lengths as long as your rolls

bird’s eye chillies, finely sliced

coriander, to serve


Cut deep slits into the meat of the pork and prick many small holes into the skin of the pork. Pour boiling water over the skin and then pat dry. You can skip this step if you like, but it does help the crackling. Rub the meat side with the pepper, five spice and garlic, and sprinkle the skin side generously with salt. Place on a rack in the fridge uncovered overnight.

For the daikon pickle, mix with the salt with the daikon rub until the daikon is softened enough so that it can be bent without breaking. Rinse, and combine with the vinegar and sugar, along with ¼ cup of water in a press-seal bag. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

For the banh mi seasoning, combine the ingredients and stir to dissolve the sugar.

Heat your oven to 180C. Roast the pork for 45 minutes, then turn the oven to grill/broil function and grill the pork for a further 15-20 minutes until the skin is crisp. Remove from the oven and rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

For the banh mi, warm the rolls. Cut the pork into thick slices. Spread the rolls with the pate and mayonnaise, fill with the poark loaf, cucumber, carrot, spring onion and daikon pickle. Add chillies and coriander to taste and drizzle with the banh mi seasoning.