Tuesday, 11 December 2012
A meal designed for the depths of Winter - Braised Chicken with Onion and Bacon
Much as I like to try all kinds of different recipes and experience foods of different cultures, there is something soothing about the familiar and seeing as it is so cold outside just now, the idea of unpretentious, comforting food really appeals. You know the stuff I mean, simple ingredients, cooked with a bit of care and (if you're me) accompanied by mashed potato. I had this recipe in mind for a while, it having first caught my attention when the weather was rather warmer and it just wasn't the right time. The time is most definitely now.
I remember watching 'Great British Menu', the first series, heavily pregnant with Lola (though this isn't a crucial detail as it happens, unless she just made me more hungry than usual) and I remember this chef competing to cook for the Queen. The name? Bryn Williams. He associated himself with a place I know extremely well and am very fond of (North Wales) and because of that connection he stuck in my mind. It was therefore inevitable (and my being a bit of a cookbook magpie) that as soon as he released a cookbook that I would just have to buy it. I had no other option. And, so I did. And what a good move it was, because it contains the recipes I love - honest, simple, mouthwatering, and like touchstones linking you back to the food of your childhood, or your home. It resonated with me.
I have cooked several recipes from this book with success, and this is the latest. I wanted to take familiar ingredients (and at that, ingredients which weren't too pricey) and create something to warm your bones, and the recipe for braised chicken with bacon and onion fitted the bill.
Organic or free range chicken is pricey; it's true. That is why when we have chicken I usually buy thighs which allow me to buy good quality chicken (that tastes of chicken) at a price that I can afford. Unfortunately, some of us here are not keen on bones and at least with the braising of this recipe it is easy enough to take the meat from the bones if you want to. It doesn't look as pretty, but there you go.
This is a recipe for legs, so plenty of wonderful tasting meat for a reasonable cost. Then there is the red wine, but, you know, you put in what you need and you slosh some into a glass. Cook's perks, if you ask me.
So, if you're cold, and want something to warm you up a little, here is one recipe you could try:
Braised Chicken Legs with Bacon and Onion, taken from 'Bryn's Kitchen' by Bryn Williams.
My adaptions in red
Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad plus one other
4 large chicken leg portions, cut in half with the thigh and drumstick separate
A pinch of salt and pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for seasoning
16 Baby onions, peeled ( I didn't have any so used shallots)
50 g smoked bacon,cubed, or lardons
100 g small button mushrooms (I used chestnut mushrooms, quartered)
2 sprigs of thyme
250 ml red wine
750 ml chicken Stock
Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF/gas mark 3.
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
Heat a heavy flameproof casserole over a medium heat. Pour in the vegetable oil and, once it is hot, seal the chicken pieces by turning them over once or twice in the casserole, until golden brown all over. Remove from the casserole and set aside.
Reduce the heat, add the baby onions and cook, stirring gently, for 4–6 minutes, until they start to colour.
Add the bacon, mushrooms and thyme, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the red wine, allow it to bubble, and reduce the liquid by half.
Reintroduce the chicken to the dish and pour over some of the chicken stock to cover three-quarters of the way up – some of the skin should stay clear of the liquid to brown.
Place in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Test the pieces with a skewer – the juices will run clear when the chicken is cooked.
If the sauce seems a little thin, remove the chicken and set it aside. Bring the sauce to the boil and let it reduce until it has a thicker consistency. (I did need to do this - I reduced it for about 10 minutes) Check for seasoning. Then pop the chicken back in the sauce to keep warm.
To serve, place each drumstick and thigh piece on a plate and surround with the sauce. And, if you're me, a mountain of mashed potato! Then dig in!