- Macknade Fine Foods

Neil Armstrong

Neil is our Deli Manager by day and a bass-guitarist by night!

I recently joined Macknade after spending half my life working for supermarket chains, and deciding that I needed a change. I discovered an opportunity at Macknade, and it is the best decision I have ever made.

I grew up near the rugby-loving town of Widnes, with a Liverpudlian father, and an Essex-born mother. This odd combination means that I know both ways to pronounce the simple English word “bus”, and when combined with five years living in Chester (which despite what many people believe, ISN’T where Hollyoaks is filmed!) and a further eight years living in London, means I have a somewhat messy accent, not really from anywhere, which is always a good conversation starter.

Away from work, when trying not to burn risotto rice, you might find me playing my bass guitar very loudly in my band, Hidden Witness (we’re brilliant!). You might also find me cheering on my beloved football team, Man Utd.

The top five ingredients on my Macknade shopping list are...

Gjetost –  A lovely Norwegian cheese from our Deli, perfect for a nibble when the urge for something sweet strikes.

Fior de Riso Risotto Rice – The only rice for making a risotto at home.

Black Bacon – An amazing product from our butchery, perfect for wrapping around a chicken breast, adding to my own risotto, and destined to be wrapped around my turkey at Christmas!

Pork & Apple Burgers – Another butchery product, but what a great one. Lean pork trim, Bramley apples and just the right amount of seasoning.

Pretzel Burger Buns – A great burger needs a great bun to go with it, and our Pretzel burger buns are perfect for any burger, with just the right amount of sweetness to compliment the meat.

An interesting fact about myself...

In December 2014, my band released a Christmas song on Itunes. It was called “Snow” and all proceeds went to the Help Musicians charity.

My last meal would be...

A Chinese buffet, with plenty of crispy aromatic duck and pancakes… not forgetting the Hoisin Sauce to go with it!

My food hero is...

An obvious one, but my food heroes are my parents. My Mum taught me to cook when I was growing up and I’ve been very impressed by my Dad taking to retirement & reinventing himself as the main cook at home.

His home-made pizza with potato/bacon/mushroom/other leftovers is a favourite dish, which is always a random combination of flavours, but perfect for emptying out the fridge before doing the weekly shop.

Recipes I want to share...

It’s not a spectacular one, but it’s one of the dishes my Mum taught me to cook (although, I think only my Mum, my Sister, my two-year-old Niece and I seem to like it!).

It probably has a name, but we’ve always just called it chicken & rice, which funnily enough, are the two main ingredients.

All you need is some chicken (a couple of breasts for a normal-sized portion!), rice, a medium-sized onion, a pint of milk, a dessert spoon of cornflour and some herbs to season.

Pan-fry the onion until it’s soft, then add the chicken and stir until it is cooked through. Whilst doing this, mix the cornflour into the milk until it is dissolved, then pour onto the cooked chicken and onion. Keep stirring the mixture over a low heat until the milk starts to thicken, then add in the herbs (and if you’re feeling adventurous, a strong cheddar cheese!). Mix until the sauce is relatively thick.

Cook the rice to your taste and serve the chicken & sauce on top, as you would a curry. Mum will tell you the sauce should be runny, but I say the thicker the better. Season to taste and then dig in!

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