Sunday, 1 April 2012

Chicken provencal

I must be growing up.

For this Easter sparks the dawn of a new phenomena that I understand is a right of passage to individuals of a similar age to us - the couples' holiday.

Not only will this be our first couples' holiday, but also my one true love's and my first holiday abroad together, almost a year to the day after our first ever 'minibreak' to Norwich - a city and surrounding area I would highly recommend, not just as being the home of TV chef royalty, Delia.

Excitement levels are boiling over (in a more restrained way than in Fatal Attraction I hasten to add), in anticipation of a trip to a quaint hamlet in the north west of France. We have been briefed not to expect much from our friend's family's gite, but provided it's warm, clean and has a roof without leaks, I'm confident it will be delightful.

In honour of this trip, I bring you my take on a French classic, Chicken Provencal.

Whilst researching this dish, it becomes apparent that like spaghetti bolognese, there isn't one definitive recipe and method. I like this fact as for me, cooking is a voyage of discovery and a the perfect opportunity for flavour-exploration. Invoking Provence's location, nestled in the south east region of France, with the Mediterranean gently lapping against its southern boarder is sufficient inspiration for the rich herbs, bold tomato and olive, and acidic wine needed to make this dish.

So to feed two, you will need:
  • 4 chicken legs
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large white onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • A couple dozen mixed olives (try and get ready pitted to save you the job) coarsely chopped
  • A handful of fresh parsley, rosemary and thyme coarsely chopped
  • Quarter of a lemon 
  • 100ml of a nice white wine (if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it!)
  • Usual oil, salt and pepper for seasoning
Heat a splash of oil in a large flat bottomed pan. Add the chicken legs skin side down first, then brown all over. Add the onion, have two sips of wine (not the 100ml!), then add the garlic, and cook for a few minutes.

Add the wine, allow the alcohol to cook off, then squeeze in the lemon juice (toptip - squeeze through the fingers of your other hand to catch the pips), then add the tomatoes, three quarters of the herbs and olives. Turn down the heat, season and leave to cook through for 20 minutes.

At this point, depending on how peckish you are, you may want to prepare some mash, sauteed potatoes or rice to accompany the dish - I'll leave that choice with you...I chose rice.

By now your sauce should have reduced nicely, so assemble the plate with the your chosen carb first, followed by the chicken, then pour the glorious sauce over the top, sprinkle over the remaining herbs, kiss your thumb and finger tips and proclaim, voila!

Enjoy with the rest of the bottle of wine, whilst brushing up on your GCSE/O levelFrench - je m'appele le chocolat chaud...

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