Saturday 23 September 2017

The Friend Detox... culling some of the bitcherd

When members of the Bitchherd are sucked into a detox vortex, Sophie White finds she has a powerful urge to do a friend cleanse. After all, no one likes a diet bore

Baking rather than frying is compromise enough.
Baking rather than frying is compromise enough.

Sophie White

I am toying with the idea of doing a friend cleanse. Believe me, it is not something I want to do, but rather, it has been thrust on me by the Nutribullet. Lately, a couple of the Bitchherd have become Nutribullet evangelicals, or Nutribitches.

I think we can all agree that there is nothing worse than a diet bore, and I admit I am as capable as the next person of expounding on the virtues of butternut-squash chips to anyone who will listen. And I have to admit that I got bizarrely overexcited when I discovered that the humble julienne peeler could do the job of a spiraliser for a fraction of the price - huzzah for carb-free pasta.

But at least my diet obsessions are born out of a genuine love of food, and not from a desire to blitz food into oblivion, and consume it with a joyless determination - a desire harboured, I suspect, by proponents of the Nutribullet. As one of the Nutribitches remarked: "It's amazing; it cuts out the need for meals altogether" - which is, possibly, the saddest thing I have ever heard.

Without meals in my life, I honestly don't know what I would do with my days. I expend so much mental energy plotting my next one, that if they were to be reduced to a depressing liquid form, I would have nothing to fill my time.

My productivity would hit an all-time high and I'd be able to fit into my size-eight jeans, but really, who wants that?

When the friends get on a detox roll, I find myself compelled to compensate for all their good behaviour with directly proportionate bad behaviour. When the herd convene for a meal out, for every 'superfood' salad ordered, I immediately counter with a deep-fried cheese sandwich. If a glass of Prosecco is mooted, I demand a bottle.

I know I should be more encouraging about their detox endeavours, as really, it is not entirely their fault - a couple of the herd have recently become engaged. As we all know, few brides can resist the pre-wedding mania that usually results in dramatic weight loss and an unprecedented fascination with table centrepieces.

As much as every woman vows not to get too caught up in the bride bullshit, most of us still find ourselves sucked in. I was no different. In the lead up to my own nuptials, my dress had to be taken in so many times, that if I were to try it on today, I could only wear it as a scarf. This dish is not particularly detox-friendly, but I feel that baking rather than frying the chicken is compromise enough to bill it as 'healthy' to the Bridebitches. Ras el hanout - a North African spice blend -is not a traditional Katsu component, but it gives a wonderfully fragrant flavour.

Chicken Katsu Curry

Serves 2 greedy people, or 4 brides-to-be.

For the sauce, you will need:

1 onion

4 cloves of garlic

2 carrots

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon ras el hanout

600ml (1 pt) chicken stock

2 teaspoon honey

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon garam masala

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the chicken, you will need:

2 chicken breasts

75g (3oz) flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 egg

100g (3½ oz) cornflakes

Rice, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas 4.

Roughly chop the onion and peel the garlic cloves, but leave them whole. Peel and slice the carrots into 1cm (less than ½in) rounds. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat and add in the chopped onion, the garlic cloves and the sliced carrots. Sweat these gently, with the lid on the saucepan, for about 20 minutes until they are soft and caramelised.

Add in the flour, the ras el hanout, and gradually mix in the chicken stock to the saucepan. Increase the heat to bring the saucepan to the boil, then add the honey, the soy sauce and the bay leaf, then simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Add the garam masala and check the seasoning, adding a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, if needed. Then, using a hand-held blender, blend the sauce until it is smooth.

To prepare the chicken, slice each breast into three. Pour the flour into one bowl and mix in the salt, then put the egg in another bowl, and whisk it. Bash up the cornflakes in a freezer bag and pour them out into a third bowl. Dip each chicken piece into the flour, coating it evenly, then into the egg, and finally coat with the broken-up cornflakes.

Put the prepared chicken pieces on a lined baking tray and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until they are cooked through. Serve them on a bed of rice with the sauce spooned over the top.

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