Perhaps it’s the unseasonably warm and sunny weather we’ve been enjoying of late, or maybe it’s got something to do with my having done two whole weeks of full-time work [I know, poor me!], but I’m yearning to get on a plane and head for distant shores. And with my own planned odyssey to explore the food of Indochina currently on indefinite hold it doesn’t help that you can’t turn on the TV at the moment without seeing a certain bum-chinned, potty-mouthed chef trampling all over South East Asia and its peoples and cuisines. Ah well, if departure lounges must remain a distant dream for now there’s nothing to stop me rustling up a mini-break from the comfort of my own kitchen.
Last July I wrote about the versatility of a simple chicken pot roast and this is yet another variation on the theme, though this time conceived with thoughts of a cold Tiger beer on a Thai beach at the forefront of my mind.
Follow the same basic method as before [you can substitute water for the wine if you think it feels more ‘authentic’, but I didn’t] but this time add the following:
- A couple of bruised lemon grass stalks and the stems of a handful of basil [reserve the leaves for later] these to be inserted into the cavity, the rest strewn about the chicken in the liquor…
- Two small shallots, finely chopped
- A thumb of ginger, peeled and grated
- Two or three red chillies, chopped
- Strips of the peel of half a lime
- Three or four crushed cloves of garlic
- Half a teaspoon of ground turmeric
Season well and cook as before. Once the chicken is done allow it to rest and strain the juices into another pan. Reduce by a third. Add a tin of coconut milk, simmer for a few minutes more, and check the seasoning. Add some previously steamed and refreshed green veg to the sauce and warm through. I used new season asparagus and some pak choi, but green beans, peas, spinach, pea aubergines, etc. would all be fine.
Finish the sauce with a squeeze of lime, a splash of fish sauce, the reserved basil leaves, and a few further strips of freshly sliced chilli if you fancy. Serve chunks of the chicken in bowls on a bed of warm noodles and with plenty of the sauce.
Now then, where did I put my postcards…?
Posted in Easy, Recipe
Tagged asparagus, basil, chicken, chilli, coconut milk, fish sauce, ginger, green beans, Indochina, lemon grass, lime, noodles, pak choi, pea aubergine, peas, pot roast, recipe, shallot, Southeast Asia, spinach, Thai, turmeric
A new twist on an old French classic. Ever since I found my first and very versatile recipe for pot-roasting chicken it has become my absolute method of choice for cooking a whole bird. You end up with meat as moist as if it were poached but with the full roast flavour, and a quantity of delicious chickeny flavoursome juices to use as they are or to treat to some onward embellishment – as here. I’ll be serving just the breasts of the chicken tonight with the velvety cream and grape sauce, so there will be plenty of luscious leg meat and a carcass to play with tomorrow.
- 1 x 1.6kg chicken
- 1 onion very finely sliced
- A couple of peeled and bruised garlic cloves
- 1 small bunch of thyme
- 300ml white wine
- As many white grapes as you fancy in your sauce, I went for 20 [c.100g]
- 150ml single cream
Preheat your oven to 190˚C. Lay a single thin layer of sliced onion over the base of a heavy lidded pot which will comfortably accommodate your chicken. Season the chicken cavity and then cram in the bunch of thyme. This is another benefit of pot roasting; both bird and juices can be imbued with the flavour of your chosen herbs with no tiresome picking or chopping [perhaps a little bruising] by simply shoving a bunch of whatever it is up the poor beast’s bottom.
Sit the chicken on its scant mattress of onion, push the rest of the sliced allium and the bruised garlic around the sides, pour over the wine and season with salt and pepper. Place the pot on the hob and heat until simmering, then place the tight fitting lid on top and give it 45 minutes covered in the oven. After the first ¾ of an hour take off the lid and return uncovered to the oven for a further 45 minutes. With 10 minutes of cooking time to go I brushed the exposed surfaces of tonight’s bird with some caramelised Verjuice syrup to give additional flavour and golden brown lustre to the skin. These timings have never failed me for a foul of this size but you can use the usual ‘juices running clear from the thickest part of the thigh’ test to be sure.
Carefully remove the chicken [the cavity will be full of liquid and the tender wings will likely fall away] and allow it to rest, covered loosely with foil. As it rests reduce the cooking liquor by a third to a half, then add the cream and allow this to bubble and thicken slightly. However intense the cooking juices seemed this will have been mollified considerably by the cream so check and adjust the seasoning. A splash of white Verjuice around now wouldn’t go amiss either [sadly my bottle was empty]. Finally add the grapes and allow them to heat through.
The pot-roasted bird will be very moist so carve on something which can catch the juices, serve your choice of cuts and pour over the sauce. This is relatively rich so keep the accompaniments simple. We had steamed green beans and some minted new potatoes with a knob of mint butter, which you can gently crush into the creamy, grapey sauce on your plate.