I used to make this all the time when I kept chickens as the odd one would occasionally go in the pot and this is an ideal dish for an old scraggy bird! It started as a recipe from Huw Fearnley Whittingstall who I still adore to this day, his recipe is a tad different to mine and is still available on line if you don’t have the River Cottage Cook Book.
When the Other Half and I got together we used to eat this quite frequently as its also an easy dish to throw together, we would pop it in the Aga on low, go for a walk with the dogs, call for a glass of wine in your local and come home to a delicious one pot meal. Its also an easy dish to multiply and serve a tableful of people all from one pot. Then of course we had kids and the world changed.
For quite some time Small Boy was resistant to any kind of casserole (that is such a pain when you want to prep something the night before because you are juggling every aspect of life and there are just not enough hours in the day). So seven years on as I opened the fridge this morning and wondered what the hell can I make for dinner, a chicken was sitting there which didn’t get cooked on Sunday (due to a raging hangover!) and inspiration hit. So I thought I would share this recipe with you, well its not really recipe its a collection of things in a pot, liquid added and popped in the oven. So here is what I did for the one I cooked today but obviously its not set in stone you can add or remove any of the vegetables – I happened to have these in the veg rack so it made sense to chuck them in. I also use much more liquid than HFW does.
The other thing I like about this, any leftovers I will use to flavour some risotto rice tomorrow or turn into a soup, (or maybe both) so you can stretch this into a few meals if you add enough veg and liquid initially.
So in your biggest casserole (I used to have one of those 70 style oval enamel casserole pans with the domed lid which is ideal for this dish) pop your chicken in and then around it add some vegetables. I used two huge carrots – chopped into large chunks, a sweet potato, four medium sized potatoes, an onion quartered, half a swede chopped into chunks, a red pepper, two sticks of celery chopped into chunks and a fennel sliced. There was a splash of white wine left from the weekend (a miracle in itself – you all know who you are!) and I added some stock to about half way up the pan but feel free to use water and add less if you wish. Tuck in some herbs if you have them, (it was oregano and a bay leaf for me) season with salt and pepper. Rub some olive oil into the top of the chicken, I cover the pan with a layer of foil and the lid and its ready for the oven.
Preheat the oven to 180 pop in the dish and after 40 minutes remove the lid, baste the chicken, stir the veg and pop it back in without the lid for 20 minutes or so until the chicken is browned and when pierced the juices run clear. You can also cook it for longer on a lower heat – its quite well behaved!
You can decant to a plate and surround with the veg and serve any juices alongside. I admit I don’t do that we eat it out of the casserole with some steamed greens.
And Small Boy I hear you ask, he walloped it, including the celery and fennel, so did small girl who ate it all including the swede which she has previously said she doesn’t like!
For the record – I like to brown the breast a bit more than the picture shows before serving – but Small Girl ‘couldn’t possibly wait any longer for tea Mama!’