There’s been a swift change. Suddenly everything is the way I remembered it being. I was starting to think that France had lost everything from four years ago that had given me feelings of; I can’t believe this is my home.
My last apartment didn’t overlook blue roofs with scattered red chimneys, the parks weren’t filled with children and clean grass but instead men who wouldn’t bother finding a bathroom, and I hadn’t yet come across one of the few streets in Paris filled with shops overflowing out onto the road; whether it be for your baguette, cheese or horse meat, you can now find these just around the corner. And so, as I was saying, everything is as it should be.
Of course in all areas of Paris there are still those few people who do us the disgrace of seeming to personify this country’s stereotype. The other morning at 7 a.m. a very crafty gentleman attempted to run me off the road as I rode my bicycle to work. I skidded, he pushed his breaks, I stopped, he rolled down his window, I became aware that there was no one else on the road, he reversed as I rode behind him and he yelled at me.
And there would be many of you who would nod at this and say that yes, everything is the way it’s supposed to be in Paris.
But you’re wrong.
Because where have all the classic sauces gone that France is known for?
A few months back I did a course at Le Cordon Bleu called Classic and Modern Sauces. I completely recommend it, even if it is just for the experience created by the chef who has spent a considerable amount of time working at the Ritz here in Paris (that link is worth a click even if it is just to listen to the back ground music).
Yes, I have become determined that sauces will not be left to only their culinary professionals. I will say this for everyone; we too can make sauce worthy of groaning. I may have chili in my fingernails and it may sting just as much as it would if it were in your eyes, but you too are capable of balancing your sweet and tart flavours, correcting your seasoning and becoming overwhelmed by the glory of reduction!
Creamy Lime and Coconut Chicken
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 cm green chili, diced
1 cm lime rind, diced
6 saffron strands
juice of half lime
50ml coconut milk
1 Tbsp fresh coriander, diced
Chicken on the bone, amount depends on people
1 tsp peanut butter
½ onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
¾ cup chicken stock
Place the marinade ingredients in a bowl big enough to fit your chicken pieces. Mix well and add your chicken. Try and leave it for a few hours, or even over night, but don’t be too fussy about this.
Meanwhile, in a pan add a splash of oil (olive or peanut) and the peanut butter. Add garlic and onion and allow to sauté for a few minutes. Once the pan is quite hot, take the chicken pieces out of the marinade and shake them a bit, then place them in the pan skin-side down. Allow them to golden and crisp ever so slightly on both sides. Turn the heat on low and add your stock. The stock will simmer rapidly then slow down. You want it to be at a consistent light simmering. Once this has reduced by at least half, add the rest of your marinade and stir well.
This will reduce again, creating a thick and sticky consistency. When the sauce comes to your desired sauce consistency, check seasoning and see if the chicken has cooked through. Serve.
I served mine with garlic sautéed spinach, which was incredible. Just bang butter, diced garlic and spinach in a pan, cover and allow to soften and then dry slightly before eating.