In Spring, I like fresher and lighter meals but sometimes I still want these to have a wholesome, restorative content. This is a both a fragranced and subtle dish, perfect for springtime, but with lots of tasty and meaty juices. Use a crisp dry wine wine – something full of flowers like a Sancerre or a Gaillac would work a dream but a dry Moravian Riesling such as ones we tasted in Prague a couple of weeks ago would have also been perfect. Of course,the winter version of this would be the very classic “Coq au vin”!
The combination of lemon, wine and garlic is irresistible and good for body and soul. The paprika lifts the lemony flavours nicely and prevent them from getting too sweet or syrupy, with its peppery kick.
- One plump organic chicken
- Lemon in brine or fresh sliced lemons (unwaxed)
- Garlic cloves, 4 to 5
- White wine, 500ml
- Stock, 250 ml
- Carrot, 1 medium
- Bay leaves, 2
- Paprika, 1 Tbsp ( choose a hot version)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Choose a nice organic chicken and a good dry white wine and this recipe is foolproof! Beyond these two ingredients, and so long as they are tip-top quality, you can relax and play around with the rest…
A smattering of flowers
This was inspired by a long sunny week-end in Prague where we tasted some fantastic local Moravian wines, all dry, crisp and wonderfully flowery ; a proud reflection the beautiful spring flowers adorning the city : From the lilac in blooms along the river islands to slopes of blossoming orchards on Petrin Hill. The lemon and paprika flavours are very present in Czech cuisine and so I decided to blend all of these memories into a simple and humble dish, such as this casserole. The sort of dish you will feel proud to put in front of your guests because of its wholesome quality and simple but stricking flavours.
Wash and pat dry the chicken but leave it whole – it will be very easy to carve later. Fry the garlic cloves in a deep dish with a little rapeseed oil. Add the chicken and brown all of its sides in the garlic oil. Try not to burn the garlic so move things around briskly.
Add the wine, chopped carrot and seasoning and get it to a high boil then lower the heat and simmer, covered for about 45 min to one hour, adding the stock along the way so there is always about 2 inches of liquid around the bird. Leave the chicken breasts down so they soak up the juices as they cook and infuse in the lemon and garlic flavoured sauce. If using freshly sliced lemons, put those slices in at the beginning but if using lemon in brine, put them in half-way through as they will cook quicker than fresh ones.
Serve when the meat is falling off the carcass and you have no need for a knife ! I accompanied this meat with a celeriac and sweet paprika purée (mashed with olive oil) which worked really well.
Here to enjoy a view of Prague in Spring, from the balcony room of Terasa U Zlaté Studnē.
My best restaurant addresses in Prague:
- Terasa U Zlaté Studnē, GoldenWell Hotel, U Zlatē Studnē 4/166, 11800 Prague
- Bellevue, Smetanovo Nabrezi 18, Prague 110 00, Czech Republic
- Wine bar in Snemovni square, near Saint Nicholas church in Mala Strana
- Letna Beer garden, in Letna park, overlooking Prague
Weekending in Prague
Almond and Cumin Roast Chicken, curtesy of Cooking Up the Pantry.
I had to re-blog this as it sounds just so yummy! I will be definitely be trying it soon… Hope you like it too. Plus it is a great way of using up my Garma Masala spices.
Back to the printmaking studio and the yoga routine this week, so too busy to post anything of my own but just you wait…
Copyright to Cooking up the Pantry- thx!
Tagines make ideal winter dishes
As a child, I used to spend most of my Christmas holidays in Morrocco where my maternal grend-parents used to live. So Christmas is not necessarily associated for me with snow or Fir trees but more often with donkey rides in the garden, fish for supper and an exotic, tenderly arranged nativity scene or crèche in the ‘salon’ where my parents and grand-parents would take us to on Christmas morning. Tagines were served to us as a warming winter dish and they are the perfect antidote to cold and dark winter evenings. With warming spices to suffuse the soul and limbs, they also represent the easy option of a perfect one-pot no-fuss meal.
Chicken lemon in tagine dish – Serves 2 to 3
For the marinade:
- 1 frozen chopped chilli cube or two pea-size drops of Harissa paste
- 200 ml water
- 70 ml olive oil
- Ras el hanout or M’rouzia mix, 1 Tbsp
- Cumin 1 Tbsp
- Ground Coriander 1 tsp
- Pinch of safran
- Fresh coriander
- Fresh parsley
For the stew:
- Cubed skinless chicken breast with wing bone (2/3 breasts) or oyster thighs -ask a good butcher!
- 1 large red onion cubed
- 2 / 3 lemons in brine quartered
- Zest of half a fresh lemon
- 2 big handful of garden peas, fresh or frozen
Note that a few quartered potatoes can be included as an option, as in the image above – I tend to give those a miss if I am trying to recover from excessive festive indulgence… Check the water if you have added potatoes and add if necessary towards the end.
Lay all the meat and put the vegetables in the dish, then mix the marinade in a small jug and pour on top of the dish. Cover and cook on medium to low heat for 45 min. Do not open the dish too often, if ever. Chuck the peas towards the end. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
All the world’s spice under a tent
For this I advise you to use a proper pointy tagine dish but a heavy pan with lid will do if you can not have the real thing. The pointy shape of the dish does concentrate flavours wonderfully and makes a great centrepiece on the dinner table. Do not forget to soak the unglazed underside of the tagine prior to using it to avoid cracking in the feat. I use a heat diffuseur as well over the hob.
A moroccan tagine
- M’rouzia (or Ras El Hanout), 1 tbsp
- Chicken stock, 1 large glass
- Passata, 100m
- Olive oil
- Pomegranate syrup, 2 Tbsp
- Diced chicken, 1 with bones and skin
- Celery heart,1 diced
- Carrots, 3 or 4
- Prunes, one handful
- Roasted almonds, one handful
- Parsley and coriander to serve.
Fry the chicken in a pan with a little olive oil and turn each morsel a few times for about 15 minutes. Toss the M’rouzia mix over and roll the chicken in the spices until coated, add some salt, then reserve.
Lay the sliced onion at the bottom of the dish, place the chicken bits over. Cut up the celery heart and the carrots lengthwise and pile on.
Drain the chicken juice from the frying pan into a jug, add the passata, some more spice mix (M’rouzia is a current favourite but Ras el Hanout is good too). Then blend in some pomegranate syrup or grape molasses – in sale from any good middle-eastern grocer. You should have about 250ml of liquid. Add a bit of water if you need too, then pour it all over the meat and vegetables.
Cover and cook on low heat for 45 min to 1 hour. Add the prunes at the end and give a little more heat for 5 minutes. Check the liquid level: the juice must be thick and reduced but still there to give moisture to the dish.
To serve, sprinkle with chopped parsley and coriander, a small amount of roasted almonds and 3 tbsp of fresh pomegranate seeds. The mixed fruity and nutty flavours are great against the saltiness of the meat!
You can serve it on it own or with steamed bulgur wheat. I love bulgur and it loves me back: it is impossible to fail and I really like its rough nuttiness better sometime than a silky couscous.
I love chicken pot-roast. Almost any kind of it. But to me this one is as wholesome and life-affirming as a walk in a blue-bell wood. Also as simple to appreciate and rare to find…
I love the earthy smell of the chicken combined with the aniseed taste of tarragon and none better than Elizabeth David can give an English twist to a very French recipe. I used her recipe from French provincial cooking.
One plump chicken
Tarragon leaves, chopped (one handful)
Garlic 1/2 clove
salt and pepper
Clean and pat your chicken dry than rub it all over with olive oil.
Knead the chunk of butter with the pressed garlic, the tarragon leaves, salt and pepper until it forms a smooth ball that you can then insert into the chicken, the natural way.
Put it in a cast iron skillet and roast in the oven for 45 min. Turning at half-time. When the bird is cooked, remove from the oven and pour a glass of brandy over it while trying to crack a match: This proved difficult but a good laugh and a few matches later we almost succeeded… Almost “flambé”.
Apparently, according to the recipe, heating the brandy first in a ladle guaranties success. Noted.
Return the bird to a low oven for a good 5 to 10 minutes. At this point you can add a good spoonful of crème fraîche to get a longer and fuller sauce. Serve hot but please not with this dry boiled rice in neat, flavourless cone-shaped fashion that people associate with any chicken in cream sauce: This is to my palate the most useless “garniture” both sides of the Channel. A fresh, crisp lettuce salad will do much better. Especially if you add more chopped tarragon into it!