Braised Chicken and Vegetables

Back when I was 18 and a student at York University, halls of residence were pretty basic. In fact our “kitchen” consisted of a partitioned off bit of corridor with a sink, fridge and baby belling shared between 5 people.

Coming from a family of cooks and chefs I quickly fell into the role of chief-feeder as most of the boys were incapable even of boiling an egg successfully. As is the norm for most freshers, everybody would be in a pretty poor state by Sunday lunch after the weekend social events and it soon became a food orientated de-briefing session on our floor.

In about my 3rd or 4th week I got a seriously good deal on a couple of whole chickens, student budgets being what they are, and decided I’d do a traditional Sunday lunch. Just one small problem, ever tried to roast a chicken in a baby belling? Or, for that matter, two chickens? Funnily enough, they didn’t fit and I was going to have to find another way around the problem…

So, after all this preamble, I ended up cooking the following dish and have continued to do so on a regular basis ever since with one or two alterations. Cooking the chicken in stock gives a great succulent flavour to the meat whilst adding the vegetables to the same pan saves on the washing up!

 Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 onion roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic whole and crushed
  • 6 mushrooms quartered
  • 3 carrots peeled and sliced into finger sized pieces
  • 1 leek sliced in half length wise and chopped into 2” lengths
  • 5 pepper corns
  • 2 vegetable or chicken stock cubes
  • 2 litres boiling water
  • 2 chillies (optional)
  • ½ shredded savoy cabbage
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • Boiled rice to serve

 Method:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a deep, heavy bottomed pan large enough to hold the chicken.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, leeks, mushrooms and pepper corns to the pan and cook on a moderate heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Place the chicken in the pan, breast up, add the stock cubes and boiling water and cover with a lid. If chillies are your thing then pop them in whole now.
  4. Leave the pan on good simmer for 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the chicken.
  5. Turn the heat off and use the handle of a wooden spoon to remove the chicken from the stock by hooking it into the cavity.
  6. Transfer the chicken into a shallow roasting tray, oil the breast with the rest of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the tray into a preheated oven at 240 degrees until the skin on the beast crisps and goes brown (about 15 minutes).
  7. Meanwhile strain the vegetables and peppercorns out of the stock, cover with foil and place in the bottom of the oven to keep warm.
  8. Skim the fat of the top of the stock with a spoon and reserve.
  9. Finally bring the stock back to the boil about 5 minutes before the chicken is ready and add the shredded cabbage to lightly cook.
  10. To serve spoon the cooked rice into the bottom of a bowl, add the warm vegetables, cabbage, a ladle full of stock and top with a couple of slices of chicken.

Hey presto, a lovely warming winter supper with minimal washing up!

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