I know I often rave about the importance of herbs, but I am going to do so again. This dish, you see, is all about the herbs. They make it, lending flavour, aroma and zest. Herbs are not difficult to get hold of; you can even grow your own herb garden, so you have no excuse.
I adore this dish; it reminds me of rural France, of long lunches around a large table under a tree, with kids running around as the adults put the world to rights. It is so comforting that no one can fail to be charmed by it. It is the dish that I'm sure inspired Henry IV of France to declare: "If God keeps me, I will make sure that there is no working man in my kingdom who does not have the means to have a chicken in the pot every Sunday!" Now that's civilised.
This recipe could not be easier. I kid you not when I say it takes 10 minutes to prepare. I even cheat sometimes and don't separate the chicken into pieces. I just bung it in whole, make sure it is brown on all sides and then carry on. I might even throw in some carrots and celery 20 minutes before it's ready. And never waste the chicken remains; they will make the basis of a fabulous soup the next day.
As I always say, do go for the best-quality bird you can. I know they don't come cheap, around Dh100 for a proper free-range one, but with chicken (as with staff), you get what you pay for. For this dish to work, you need a proper old-fashioned chicken taste that warms your heart and makes your soul sing.
On that rather poetic note I will leave you for 2011. It's been a great fun year, I hope you're enjoyed it as much as I have, and see you in 2012.
Pot roast chicken with herbs
Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 45 minutes
2kg chicken in 8 pieces, bone on
200ml extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
500g onion (about one large), diced
1 sprig of thyme
3 sprigs of rosemary
2 bay leaves
200ml chicken stock
500ml chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Wash and pat the chicken dry. Trim off any excess fat, keeping the skin on.
2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the extra virgin olive oil and cook the garlic and onions until soft.
3. Add the chicken, skin side down, and brown on both sides. Add the herbs and 200ml of chicken stock and bring to the boil.
4. Add 500ml chicken stock and let simmer.
5. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat and cook for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally so that the chicken remains moist.
6. Remove the herbs. Serve with the pan juices and some crusty bread.
This dish is offered at Frankie's Restaurant & Bar, which features Friday Brunch alongside CuiScene restaurant. Call 02 654 3238 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org