Tuesday, 19 January 2016
I AM NOT ON A DIET. I AM NOT ON A DIET (repeat to fade) Chicken with Lentils and Rosemary
I am not on a diet. Diet is a dirty word. It conjures up ideas of solitary lettuce leaves and a kind of hunger which makes you want to kill someone (in my case anyway that is; I am always at my most calm and serene with a full stomach). So, what I am doing is making better choices. I am ‘doing stuff better’ a la my New Year’s Resolution (mentioned here) and it is a vague enough notion to ensure that I don’t fail. Let’s face it; ‘doing stuff better’ could mean anything. But at this time, it means selecting foods to eat that I know are good for me and that I enjoy, and staying off the pies.
It is, with this in mind, that a foray into the latest Waitrose magazine led me to discover a Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall dish for chicken with lentils and rosemary. Yum, says I, for though lentils get a bad rap, I absolutely adore them and as such, should eat a whole lot more of them. In this recipe, the lentils draw in the flavour of chicken stock, onions, garlic and rosemary and transform into something gorgeously tasty and satisfying, so much so I probably could have eaten a bowl of that alone and felt pretty damn satisfied. The accompanying chicken was more a bonus than the main event for me.
This is pretty easy to make. It’s a one pot wonder essentially and thus good for a night where I can’t really be bothered with much culinary flourish. It does require more effort than hurling some oven chips in the general direction of the cooker, but once you have sautéed your onion, garlic, rosemary and then added the lentils and stock, you are good to go really. Just plonk the chicken on top. And I don’t know whether it was luck or judgement, but the resulting dish was the cooked down tastiness of the lentils but with some on top still retaining their shape but yielding willingly as you ate. Yum. The consistency of the lentils, kind of reminded me a little of mash, and that could never be a bad thing.
I served this with steamed spring greens, their verdant, iron rich goodness complimenting the chicken and the lentils completely.
Chicken with Rosemary and Lentils, taken from Waitrose magazine
Serves 4/5 people
My alterations in red.
2 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
1 large onion, sliced (I used two biggish ones)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
Leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary
200g red lentils, well rinsed
500ml chicken or veg stock (I used chicken stock. It was quite a strong stock)
8 skin-on, bone-in, free-range chicken thighs, or 1 medium chicken (about 1.75kg/4lb), jointed into 6-8 pieces (I used four chicken breasts on the bone, skin on)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to finish
Pre-heat the oven to 180c
In a flameproof casserole pan or pot that will be big enough to hold the chicken in one layer, add the oil, then the onion and cook, stirring regularly, for six to eight minutes until it begins to soften. Add the garlic, rosemary and some salt and pepper. Cook gently for a further five minutes, then stir in the lentils and stock.
Season the chicken and place skin-side up in the casserole. The chicken skin should remain exposed above the liquid in the dish so it can brown in the oven.
Bring to a simmer on the hob, then transfer to the oven and bake, uncovered, for about an hour. Mine took about 50 minutes. Check that the chicken is cooked right through and the lentils are soft. If not, return to the oven for 10-15 minutes and test again.
Skim off any excess fat from the surface. Taste the lentils and add more salt or pepper if needed. Mine did need a bit more seasoning.
Scatter over the parsley.
I served this with spring greens.