Now, before I get going I have to apologise that I haven´t posted a photo of the finished dish! It´s been a cold, wet rainy day up the mountain after a very stormy night. Big Man, the two dogs and I were tired and grizzly after a night of no sleep and needed comfort food to fill our bellies and soothe our frazzled nerves. I can only think that we were so in need of something calming that we were tucking in and sipping a glass of Rioja before I realised that I hadn´t snapped the finished result. Apologies, it was a delicious bowl of braised chicken, spring vegetables and steaming mashed potatoes.
Because we don´t have a machine to pluck our chickens for us, and as I don´t have the patience to pluck chickens “en masse”, they are skinned after dispatch and usually cut up and frozen. One chicken was kept whole so that I could cook a one pot dish, and today was its day. I cooked it slowly on the hob in a large tagine that I have, but it can equally well be cooked in a heavy based saucepan with a tight fitting lid (I think they may be called Dutch Ovens in the US) either on the hob or in a very slow oven.
It´s a simple dish with only a little preparation, then you go away and forget about it for a few hours whilst enjoying the smells of slowly braising chicken wafting through your home.
Here´s how to do it…
- One whole chicken (with or without skin) or chicken pieces for however many people you are cooking for
- About 3-4 carrots per person, peeled and cut into large chunks
- A cup of broad beans per person (but feel free to use whatever vegetable is seasonal)
- Half an onion roughly chopped per person
- A tablespoon of chopped parsley and of olive oil per person
- Grated lemon rind to taste and the juice of half a lemon per person
- About 2 medium potatoes per person, peeled and quartered – keep these in a bowl of water until needed
- Extra olive oil
- Milk (optional)
Mix the carrots, beans, onion, parsley, lemon zest, juice and olive oil in a bowl. Season to taste.
Put half the vegetable mix at the bottom of your cooking dish then place the chicken on top. Use the rest of the vegetables to fill the chicken cavity and tuck and the lemon shells in with the chicken.
Rub a little olive oil, salt and pepper over the chicken, put the lid on and place on a low heat. This needs to cook very slowly for about two hours. Check every so often and if it looks as though it´s drying out, add about half a glass of water. If the lid of your pot fits well, you should find that the chicken starts to cook in its own steam. When the chicken is almost cooked (i.e. it looks cooked on the outside but the juices do not quite run clear when you stab a thigh with a skewer), remove the lemon shells and put the potatoes in on top of the bed of vegetables and around the chicken.
The potatoes will take about another half an hour to cook, by which time the chicken will be cooked.
Remove the potatoes and mash with a little milk or the juice from the chicken and vegetables – it´s your choice!
Serve the chicken with the vegetables and mashed potato. Now you only have one cooking pot to wash up and, if you have them, you can use any leftovers plus the bones to make a delicious stock for another day.