We don't eat much chicken in our house, unless it's a whole roast that gets slowly worked down into left-over pieces and soup stock. Chicken parts just seem so expensive compared to buying the whole thing, and when the cost is taken into account we just gravitate to other meats like lamb or pork. A good chicken recipe does turn the head, though, and this one from the Borough Market Cookbook was the equivalent of a lithe, buxom blonde in a bikini (or, more to my liking, George Clooney taking one of his pot bellied pigs for a walk).
This was also perfect for having guests around - fairly simple to prepare and it could just bubble away in the background without you worrying how your level of drinking might impair the final outcome. I wasn't entirely convinced by the dish as it did cook away; the saffron with the wine gave off a slightly acidic smell that I didn't think promised good things. Everyone, though, loved it, with the chicken coming out tender and the raisins adding a nice touch of sweet to the dry wine and the exotic saffron. A bit of cous cous on the side helped lap up the sauces and went with the vaguely North African aura of the dish. And, ideally for my thrifty mind, you can make it by jointing the chicken into 8 pieces, leaving the chance for you to make stock from the carcass. It's firmly entered the Must Make Again list, and fairly near the top, too.
For the one-pot-wonder that this is, I'm submitting this to Lis at La Mia Cucina for this month's Weekend Cookbok Challenge.
Chicken with White Wine, Saffron and Raisins, From Borough Market Cookbook (Meat and Fish)
- 1 medium chicken, jointed into 8
- 1 Tbs flour
- 3 Tbs olive oil
- 2 large onions, cut into half-moon slivers
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 600ml dry white wine
- 1 pinch saffron threads
- 75 g raisins (the original recipe calls for currants)
- 60g pine nuts
- 10g fresh parsely
- Dust the chicken pieces with flour
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed casserole dish and begin browning the chicken on all sides. Make sure there's enough room for the pieces (you may need to do it in batches) since you want the chicken to brown nicely and not be crowded in to the pot. Remove chicken as it crisps and set aside, and keep the oil in the casserole.
- Crush the garlic with a pinch of sea salt in a mortar and pestle.
- Saute the onion in the casserole dish that cooked the chicken, stirring and loosening any brown bits left behind from the chicken.
- When the onion is turning lightly golden, add the garlic paste and stir, cooking for about 30 seconds.
- Put the chicken back in the dish, placed together snugly and with the skin side up.
- Stick in the 2 bay leaves, tucked underneath the chicken pieces.
- Season with salt and pepper, and add in the wine and saffron. Make sure the saffron is submerged in the liquid.
- Bring to a simmer and cook for 40-45 minutes, or transfer to an oven at 180C / 350 F and cook for the same amount of time in there
- After 20 minutes of the cooking, sprinkly the rasisns (or currants) and pine nuts over the chicken.
- Check the level of the liquid - there should be at least 240ml / 1 C of liquid in the dish so top up with water or chicken stock if needed.
- Serve with parsely scattered over the top.