This was meant to be the first post but it was pipped at the post (aha ha) by scones and general laziness which is why it has varying themes of welcome at the top there.
This sort of meal is basically how this whole blog thing came about. A kind of, hmm-what-have-we-got-in-the-fridge-that-needs-using and what-stuff-did-they-have-on-spesh-at-the-fruit-and-veg-shop-today style of dish that I make and then Andy asks me how I did it and I say –
“It’s just things in a pan – onions, garlic, bouquet garni! Things that are in the fridge! It’s easy, what more could you want?”
Apparently a lot more. When people ask me for recipes of things that I’ve made that they’ve eaten (this doesn’t actually happen that often) I’m inclined to just give them a list of ingredients and assume that because they’ve eaten it they should be able to figure out how to put it together and how much of each thing. This is, apparently, not the case.
People want measurements and timing and definitely do not want to wing it and Andy keeps hassling me to write it all down – and not the way that I write things down for myself which is basically just a completely illegibly scrawled list of ingredients with one or two question marks for no apparent reason. So here it is. Stuff written down with instructions.
I made this because we had a leftover chicken breast from a barbecue we’d been to the day before and I’d bought some artichokes on special at La Mana. Everything else is the kind of stuff we just have in the fridge and the herbs are all from the garden. You can basically chuck what ever you want in this sort of dish – it would definitely take a couple of potatoes, maybe a handful of cherry tomatoes, if i’d had any broad beans I would have flung them in too (etc, etc, etc). I would also quite happily, and more usually, make this kind of dish without the chicken.
Baked chicken with spring vegetables – enough for 2 people with a smidge of leftovers
1 chicken breast (290g)
1/2 bulb of fennel
3 stalks celery
3-4 cloves of garlic
juice of one lemon
2 bay leaves
3-4 sprigs thyme
3 parsley stalks
1-1 ½ cups veg or chicken stock
Grab and ovenproof pan that has a lid. Slosh in a good slug of oil – about 1 ½ TBS. The oil should have a fairly high smoke point, I used rice bran oil.
Pat the chicken breast dry, cut into inch(ish) sized cubes, season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil. In your hot pan sear the chicken on all sides until lightly browned. Remove the chicken to a plate and put aside. The chicken will not be cooked all the way through, do NOT attempt to eat the chicken. You don’t have to do this step but it will make the dish have a little more depth of flavour.
most of the oil will have gone with the chicken so glug a little more into the pan (I would use olive oil at this point, maybe some butter) and add to it – the leek sliced into fairly thick diagonal sections, the celery cut into small crescent moons, finely diced carrot along with the bay leaves, thyme and parsley stalks. Cook over a moderate flame, fry until translucent and soft – add the garlic about 3 minutes into cooking.
Cut the fennel into bite sized chunks and prepare the artichokes in the usual fashion (I’m working from the, admittedly, not very strong assumption that people already know how to do this – if not, ask me and I’ll do a post about it), cut them into 8-12 pieces each. The flesh of the artichokes will discolour quickly when cut so rub the cut surfaces with a lemon to prevent them going brown – or chuck them in a bowl of acidulated water.
Add the fennel and the artichokes to the other vegetables and allow to soften a little. Add the chicken, the stock and the lemon juice – if you have some white wine just hanging around you could substitute some of the liquid for that.
Put in a preheated oven, about 180-200º (depends on your oven – see post about scones for a bit of ranting about this). Cook for 30-40 mins.
Garnish with parsley. Serve with bread.