Last week-end I got to spend some time with my sister Tracey and her family. As always we end up reminiscing about the good ole days. Tracey has an amazing memory and can recall every event and word from 20 years ago.
She loves to remind me how I cooked a chicken in a plastic bag or how our dad Tom, loved to cook a stew with whole carrots and onions AND she means whole, the roots, the skin and the leaves, everything went into the pot, as is – he chopped up nothing.
I don’t remember this and if I had to sum up my dad it would be these memories, smells, and feelings that I do remember.
Tea – he loved tea. Strong and sweet. He taught us how to cool it down by pouring it into the saucer and slurping it up from there. It was our secret – we were never to tell ‘mother’. I loved how in the early hours of the morning after working a night shift he would bring us hot sweet tea, sit at the end of the bed and we’d sip/slurp tea in silence.
Story teller – My dad could weave a story like no other. As kids, the highlight of our day was bed time. He would blow the train whistle as he passed our home, and we knew, we had enough time to have a bath, eat dinner and hop onto the bed before he walked through the door with a new story. There were tales of horses catching buses, to foxes serenading chickens in trees, to my favourite, a little lizard family hiding in a barn and milking cows to stay alive.
‘At the bottom of the garden.’- If my dad wasn’t sleeping he was at the bottom of the garden with the chickens, birds and rabbits. He was the most happiest pottering around in his bird cages, knee deep in chicken poo and feathers.
Toenails – like I said, if he wasn’t at the bottom of the garden he was sleeping. His nickname was horizontal Tom because he was always flat on his back in the horizontal position….sleeping. We would sneak into the room to gawk at his enormous toes and toenails.
Brill cream – My dad sported a comb over WITH a safari suit. I loved catching him in the act of combing it over and sticking it down with brill cream. I remember that smell.
Entertainer – Family weddings were the best. My dad would perform his party trick of dancing with a glass on top of his head to the amazement of all the guests. He loved dancing and there was always a queue of ladies, aunties and grannies waiting for the opportunity to dance with my dad…this really ticked my mother off who never got the chance. I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden by Lynn Anderson was our song. No matter what, he would come and find me and we would dance together
My dad was an extrordinary man. Always tall, gentle and ‘still’. He could sit for hours without moving a muscle.
But he couldn’t cook even though he thought he could. He thought pilchards with thick slices of raw onion was gourmet and door stopper slices of bread with curried mince on top, the best. In his haste and excitement he apparently cooked up a batch of pets mince, wolfed it down, before rushing to the hospital the day I was born.
Making a ‘concoction’ between shifts is what I remember him doing and maybe that’s why the meal I prepared last night, reminded me of him and I wondered if he would have enjoyed it.
I know your dads are going to love it, your kids, your partners and even you. So pop those potatoes in the oven and you have 45 minutes to share a ‘dad’ story with your loved ones.
Baked potato with BBQ chicken topping
- 4 Large potatoes (not mashing potatoes)
- Sunflower oil
- Fine salt
- 500g chicken fillets finely chopped
- 1x small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 5ml chicken spice or cajun spice
- 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup chutney
- 1/4 cup of bbq sauce
- Splash of Worcester sauce
- Dash of soya sauce
For the mashy bit
- Butter and a little milk.
- Cheddar or mozzarella cheese
- Sour cream (optional)
- Prick the potatoes with a fork, coat them with sunflower oil and the sprinkle them generously with salt. Trust me here…..this makes the best baked potatoes ever, even WITHOUT the chicken filling
- Pop them into a super hot oven 200C for 45 min or until cooked through.
- While the potatoes are cooking, fry your chicken (in a little oil) with a little chicken or cajun spice for 2-3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and cook until your chicken is just cooked.
- Add the sauces – tomato sauce, chutney, soya and Worcester. Basically these are the base of a BBQ sauce so if you have a bottle of ready made BBQ sauce, use it instead.
- Let everything bubbly up nicely and coat the chicken….8 min tops. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Once the potatoes are cooked and working while they are still hot, slice open and scoop out the filling, leaving the outer skin in tact.
- Add a little butter & milk to the scooped out potato and mash until smooth in a rustic way. Season with a little salt.
- Pop the mash back into the hollowed out skins. Top with BBQ chicken filling – pile it on.
- Add some cheese and return to the oven for 5 min or until the cheese is melted.
- Top with sour cream and serve immediately.