We've had our fair share of chip and dip dinners over the years and we're still big fans. If we're feeling extra flash, we'll even add in carrot sticks sometimes. However- in the past 2 or so years, both the girls have started an interest in cooking- so we started something a while back. On Sunday's (if we're home, we don't have plans and we can be bothered), the kids think of an idea for dinner. Sunday night seems like as good as evening as any to do it- we're usually all home, it's a relatively early night before school the next day, and it's a nice way to kick off the week.
If you've got children who love to cook or have an interest in it, it's a great way to teach them what you know and give them experience around out-of-bounds kitchen items you might not have enough time to teach them about during the week. Namely hot flames, sharp knives and that very nice olive oil you're saving that they somehow got their mitts on. There are bits of the cooking and preparation that I definitely do alongside the girls- some meals I'm really, really involved and then some meals the girls might have one or two questions about- but other than that they're away.
Plus, it's incredibly liberating telling them when they're whinging about what's for dinner that 'if they don't like what's for dinner, they can cook their own'. This is all in preparation for my retirement, you see ;)
This is Fern's favourite dinner. You can partially cook the rice in advance, if you wish, and finish it off quickly when you're ready to eat- just take off the heat and set it aside when you've added half of the stock. We don't tend to eat a lot of meat, but we first made this meal a few years back- and so we have to stick with the Tried and True (but you could easy sub the chicken for cauliflower).
P.s it pays to marinade your chicken first, so it has lots of time to soak up the flavour.
Takes around 45 unrushed minutes to prepare and cook (plus a bit of extra time for your chicken to marinade).
1 Tbsp butter or oil
1 onion, chopped
1 1/4 cup arborio (or shortgrain) rice
1 litre stock (vegetable or chicken)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
Seasoning to taste
1 cup baby spinach (plus you can add in any peas, beans or any other greens you have on hand)
1. In a medium-sized, heavy bottomed saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened and onions are translucent.
2. Add rice and stir through until coated.
3. Start adding stock, one cup at a time- stirring frequently until all liquid is absorbed before adding the next.
4. Once all liquid is absorbed, stir in cheese, lemon juice and spinach.
GARLIC AND FENNEL CRIPSY SKIN CHICKEN:
4 pieces of chicken- we love to use the Bostocks skin-on thighs, but we only had drumsticks on hand this time. Straight up- it's the skin getting all crispy that lifts this dish from Taylor to Kanye).
1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp chopped fennel seeds (we've also got wild fennel growing at the creek and like to add this in too)
2-3 Tbsp oil
1. Place all ingredients in a container with a lid, or an oven tray- toss so chicken is all coated. Cover, and place in fridge for at least an hour.
2. When you're ready to cook- preheat oven to 180°C. Heat a heavy bottomed frypan over medium-high heat.
3. Once frypan is hot, place chicken in pan- leaving skin to become golden and crispy before turning over. It may need about 3-4 minutes on each side.
4. When they're browned, place into oven dish- and put in oven. Cook for around 20-25 minutes, or until juices run clear.
5. When your chicken is nearly ready, serve up risotto in bowls. If you're serving thighs, we like to slice them up before putting onto plates.
6. Add a few herbs on the top and pour the chicken/marinade juice over each dish.