Small cubes of chicken marinate quickly and provide a vehicle for robust spicing, especially if they are to be eaten in small quantity as here. These can be served hot or cold.
1 boneless breast or leg of chicken
For the Marinade
½ small chilli, deseeded and chopped
1tablespoon flat-leaf parsley chopped
Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl. Cut the chicken into 2cm (¾in cubes) and toss them in the marinade. Leave to stand for 1 hour.
Grill or fry the chicken for 5–10 minutes, until it is browned and crisp outside but still moist and tender inside.
Skewer each piece of chicken with a toothpick and serve.
The ground floor of the Merchant House has served as a restaurant for nearly six years now. The majority of that time for me has been spent worrying over trivia, peeling and boiling things, and hoping that the amounts of food we have bought and prepared will coincide with the orders taken in the dining room. It has only rarely involved pondering the meaning of life, gastronomically speaking, or creating a raft of brilliant new dishes with which to dazzle the diners. But it has not been boring.
Each change in the availability of seasonal produce, lobster from Cornwall or game from Shropshire, means rethinking the balance of the menu and the make-up of each dish, scouring recipe books so that others’ ideas can be considered and solutions found that suit our own facilities and situation. The goal is for each dish to be stimulating as well as satisfying, at the same time keeping the whole meal more or less in balance.
Once a dish is conceived, it has to be tested and eaten in its entirety to see what works and what doesn’t. Needless ingredients and flourishes can then be stripped away so that the main contrasts of flavour and texture are not cluttered, or made subservient to a colour scheme. Restraint and simplicity of execution are central.
If you are thinking of setting up a similar restaurant, you’ll be pleased to know that my accountant says we make a profit. Of course, he also says we would make a better one if I were to spend little less on the victuals and a little more on tax-friendly pension schemes. But then, what does he know about the buzz of a successful evening and the chance of making the next meal a bit better?