Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Chicken in a pot

200g dried haricot beans, soaked overnight
2 heads of garlic, cloves peeled
2 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and thickly sliced
2 bay leaves
5 sprigs of thyme
150ml dry white wine
2.5 liters water
Sea salt and black pepper
1.6kg chicken, untrussed
250g French beans, topped and tailed
7tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra
1tsp truffle oil (optional)
3 slices of air dried ham, cut into strips
Coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley to serve

Drain the haricot beans and put them in a pan with enough water to cover by about 3cm. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 15 min. Drain.
Place the garlic, carrots, celery, bay leaves and thyme in a large cast iron casserole that will fit the chicken with some room to spare. Pour in the wine and water, add 1&1/2 tsp of salt and some black pepper and bring to the boil. Place the chicken in the pot, then sprinkle the haricot beans around it. The water should almost cover the chicken, so add more if necessary. Return to the boil, then cover the pan, and poach over a low heat for 50 min. Towards the end of cooking bring a pan of salted water to boil for the beans.
Transfer the chicken to a plate and leave to rest for 20 minutes. Continue to cook the haricot beans at a rapid boil for another 15 mi don’t worry if they don’t seem as tender as normal, the salt toughens the skins, all will be well when the puree is sieved.
About 5 min before serving, add the French beans to the boiling water and cook until just tender. Drain and return to the pan, then toss with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, the truffle oil, if using, and a little seasoning, then mix in the strips of ham.
Drain the haricot beans and remaining vegetables into a sieve, then discard the herbs and all but a few of the carrots. Add the beans and remaining vegetables to a blender and puree with 6 tbsp of the olive oil, 100ml of cooking liquid and a little salt. Pass the puree through a sieve into a small saucepan and gently reheat.
Carve the chicken and serve on a bed of bean puree on warm plates. Drizzle with a little olive oil, scatter with parsley, and serve with the French beans.

The name of this dish is totally misleading. It makes it sound so boring, when actually it is a wonderful and light dinner. I got this from The Country Cook, which is an amazing cookbook.

One reason I wanted to try this, is that I have never poached a chicken before. Turns out, it’s really easy to do. The finished product isn’t especially pretty, it’s not nice and brown like a roast chicken, but as long as you cut it up before serving, it won’t damage your presentation (if that kind of thing matters to you). It does give you really tender, moist wonderful meat that picks up subtle flavor from the cooking liquid.

The beans I had a little trouble with, but that was really just because my blender is crap. It overheats and shuts it’s self down if you try to use it for more then 30 seconds. I did not manage to get the beans liquid enough to put them through my strainer (which has a really fine mesh). I did manage to get one serving through it, so I got to try what it should have tasted like. I have to say, I liked both. The beans as I served them had a bit of texture to them, a little more body then the strained ones. The strained ones were beautiful though, they had a consistency like silk, if you can imagine silk being a food. I’d say, if you are having trouble straining them, try a little of the strained bit, and try a little of the unstrained, and decide for yourself if it’s worth the effort.

Lastly the green beans. I loved them. I loved them lots. I will always make my green beans this way now.

My youngest son loved this dish. He ate three full plates of chicken and beans, happily shouting “more” with his arms in the air after each plate. Unfortunately, we have one guest that doesn’t like garlic. I didn’t realize, and as you can imagine, a chicken recipe that calls for two full heads of garlic was not exactly her favorite. I felt really awful about that. If you wind up reading this… sorry. Final verdict is, if you are not averse to garlic, then this is a good dish


Susie said...

There's a saying in my family, "If your friends don't like garlic, they are not your friends."

OK, I made that up. But it's so true, right?
; )

AteThat said...

I know what you mean, you have to be a bit wary, like they might be vampires... or just crazy.