Before I started growing more of my own fruit and veg I subscribed to a weekly Riverford home delivery veg box.* Opening it was always an exciting moment: exceptionally good produce with one or two special treats among the regular roots and greens. The only item that was ever met with a groan was celery – hated by my wife and banned from all meals.
A few weeks ago someone from Riverford got in touch: did I know they now produce recipe boxes and would we like to review one? To further tempt me (not necessary) they were keen to point out that green fingered cook Sarah Raven would be curating a range of boxes… and one of her recipes would be Sangria Chicken… perfect for a digging and swigging website.
The box arrived a few days ago. Opening it reminded me of my veg delivery excitement, and then some. It was teeming with stunning looking home grown ingredients with nooks and crannies crammed with tins, bottles and tubs of all sorts of other exciting ingredients. If that display doesn’t get you wanting to cook, nothing will.
The Sarah Raven boxes all contain three meals for two people, so alongside the Sangria Chicken I was also treated to a pair of vegetarian dishes: Tomato and Poppy Send tart and Sweet Potato Curry. Apart from salt, pepper and cooking oil, all of the ingredients are included, in most instances measured out ready to cook (and with some items such as herbs and spices you’re given extra). The chicken – two drums and two thighs – was kept cool with an ice pack and wrapped in re-usable sheep wool.** The rice (red camargue) and other dry ingredients were measured out in plastic tubs; the white wine in a custom bottle; and the freshest looking oranges and fennel were packed loose ready to be sliced. The ingredients also included celery. This, of course, would not be used.
I set about cooking on the night of delivery, willfully ignoring the first instruction to marinate the chicken in all the sangria flavourings overnight, instead chucking them in immediately before the dish went in the over. The instructions were very easy to follow and, without having to worry about weighing scales or measuring jugs, was assembled in no time at all. It came together exactly as it appeared on the instruction photo (minus the celery) and I was rewarded with two very generous servings.
The meal was delicious. Praise was heaped upon me from my wife (I couldn’t possibly take credit for it). And those other two vegetarian dishes were made with equal ease and garnered similarly positive reactions.
The boxes probably aren’t something you would subscribe to in order to save you a huge amount of money, but they’re great value, particularly for recipes with long lists of ingredients – the sweet potato curry, for example, had lots of spices which you would do well to stock. And having items, such as the wine, measured out means you’re not buying full packs only to use a fraction of the contents. But most importantly, they’re healthy and extremely satisfying, boosting your range of cooking skills with minimum opportunity to get things wrong (I’ll definitely be cooking another Sangria Chicken in the not too distant future). And I’ve also got a whole bunch of celery to get through when my wife isn’t looking.
To check out Riverford’s range of recipe boxes, including Sarah Raven’s limited edition seasonal range, visit the Riverford website
Beer not included
Fancy making Sangria Chicken and want to know what liquid refreshment to serve with it? As with most meals, we recommend beer. To accompany the meaty goodness of chicken thighs, the aniseed flavour of the fennel and the fruity orange sweetness we reckon a light beer with a bit of subtle spiciness and a decently boozy body fits the bill. A good hefeweizen would do the trick. Or a refreshing summer English ale with delicate grassy bitterness. But we went for Chouffe Soleil: a light Belgian blonde ale with lots of floral notes, a touch of sweetness and peppery Belgian yeasts.
*Looking at the miserable the harvest that’s on the cards this year, I may have to return to the scheme…
** Mine will become a slug deterring garden mulch