Wednesday, 28 May 2014
I'm thinking of France - Provencal chicken
Actually, I am often thinking of France. I don't know if I am so disenchanted by this country that I see France as some kind of example of the good life, although I think the warm sun, a sense of society and a two hour lunch has a lot going for it. In fairness I could also counter that with the fact that trying to get anything done in August is a thankless task because everyone is on holiday and maybe, thinking about it, it should be. I don't really appreciate the way that so many of us are worked like dogs for so little tangible benefit and maybe a little more time where you could actually stop and appreciate the simplicity of life rather than not seeing any of it because you're sat in front of a computer screen or (insert suitable phrase for whatever is the bane of your working life) for hours on end would be beneficial to all of us. Anyway, before this gets too overly political, let me just say that I see myself with a little house with a little bit of land -nothing grand, just room enough for a little pool and somewhere to put a table and chairs, and then the rest given over to an array of fruit trees, rows of herbs and a veg plot where I don't have to be concerned about whether my tomatoes ripen or not. Because they will. I have, too many times, converted those sad looking green things withering on the vine in my garden into some kind of green tomato chutney because it's been yet another year of Atlantic storms and general greyness.
And if I were somewhere in, say, Provence, I might get on my bike one morning (yes, really!) and go off to the market and buy myself a chicken and a few other bits and bobs, and I might return home and cook something like this and the heady smells of rosemary and garlic will envelop my simple little kitchen just as it did when I made this in my real kitchen. If you want one of those meals which has you feeling hungry half an hour before you are due to eat it because is smells so damn good, then this is the one for you.
And, it is so easy to make - far easier than roasting a chicken and the meat is moist, flavourful and falls off the bone.
Provencal Chicken, loosely based on the version from the Low Carb Cookbook by Annie Bell
Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad
one medium free range chicken
two - three onions, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
12 - 15 cherry tomatoes
150ml white wine
2 tsp chopped rosemary
a handful of green and black olives, pitted (optional)
salt and pepper
(There is an option to make a type of pistou with this, by blitzing basil leaves with olive oil, but I didn't bother as Lola and Finn are not pistou (or, indeed 'pesto') fans. One day they will discover that just because it is green, it is not horrible...)
Sadly blurred, but you catch the drift...
Rub a little of the olive oil onto the whole chicken and season it. Then, in a large enough pot that will contain the chicken and the sauce once assembled, start to brown the chicken all over. Remove to a plate.
Add a little more olive oil to the pan and start to sauté the sliced onions over a medium heat for about five minutes or so until they are translucent. Add the garlic and cook briefly until it is fragrant, but take care not to burn it.
Add the wine, the tomatoes and the rosemary and stir together. Season. Place the chicken on top of the sauce and put the lid on the pot. Lower the heat and cook for about an hour or so, until the juices from a knife inserted into the thickest part of the chicken run clear.
At this point, you can remove the chicken to a plate, wrap it in foil and allow it to rest for a little whilst you attend to the sauce. It may be that the sauce is greasy (mine wasn't) but you can allow the sauce to settle and skim any fat off the top. It may also be that the sauce is too liquid. If that is the case, raise the heat and reduce the sauce.
If you are using the olives, stir them into the sauce once you have removed the chicken and allow them to warm through. Check the seasoning. It should be very intensely tasting, to counteract the relative blandness of the chicken.
Serve the chicken and the sauce together - you could bulk this out with potatoes or rice or salad if you like.