Tuesday, 3 January 2006

Poule au Pot

Before I finish writing about Christmas I will catch up with yesterday.

I had almost run out of food yesterday so, after a healthy lie in, I got dressed in my cleaner clothes and headed into Oxford to get some seasonal food to cook. This New Year’s resolution of eating seasonal food is a good one, much better than the usual resolutions that tend to give up things that are fun or taking up things that aren’t (gym membership, jogging, learning Latin). One of the best things about Oxford, and there are many to choose form, is the covered market in which are located very good butchers, grocer, cheese shop, deli and all manner of cafĂ©’s and shops. I spent the journey in trying to decide whether to go for award winning sausages or Organic lamb and contemplating what vegetables would be looking tempting. When I got to town I was pleased to discover that the market was shut due to it being a bank holiday and all that and so I had to go to a supermarket instead. One thing I really object to is the amount of packaging that comes on food bought in a supermarket. If, for example, I had wanted to buy leeks (which I did) I would be forced to buy a packet of three all wrapped up in loads of plastic. I only wanted one leek and I didn’t want all the plastic so I bought some onions instead. Again there was no choice but to buy a packet, of five this time, but at least I knew I would use them all.

When I got home I lit a fire utilising my all new “no matches no paper check me out” fire lighting technique. Sometimes I am quite good at lighting a fire like this, yesterday I wasn’t so good and almost gave up and resorted to using a lighter but persevered and soon (well not so soon) had a good blaze going. I made

Chicken in a white wine sauce.

Two Chicken leg joints
About 25g smoked gammon / bacon - diced
Two small onions – peeled and chopped in half
One large carrot – scraped and chopped into chunks
One large red potato – quartered
Glass or two of white wine
One clove of garlic, thinly sliced
Sea salt
Pepper corns – cracked between the flat of a knife and a flat surface
Double Cream

Brown the chicken over the fire, meanwhile brown the onion, carrot and gammon or bacon in the oil and add a healthy sprinkle of rosemary. Put the chicken, bacon, carrot, onion, wine and garlic into a pan and top up with water so that liquid comes up to just about cover the ingredients, put a lid on, bring to the boil and simmer for about half an hour (this works best if cooked in an oven). Then put the potato on top and let steam until really well cooked. Remove the potato and put on one side (I stuck them in the lid of the Billy) if you are outside in the winter it’s probably best to add butter at this point to help it melt. Leave the potato for a while and let the steam come off to make sure they are nice and dry before mashing. Remove the chicken, onion and carrot from the Billy and let the chicken rest for ten minutes. Meanwhile put the sauce over a high heat and let it reduce. Mash the potato with whatever comes to hand (I had to use a spoon), add salt, pepper, some cream and grated nutmeg. By this time the sauce should have reduced so remove it from the heat, add some cream and stir together over a low heat, add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the Chicken and vegetables covered in the sauce with a sprinkle of black pepper a slice or two of granary bread and a glass of dry white wine.

I have made many variations of this dish in the past and the slight BBQ flavour of the chicken really adds something to it.


I used a bit of bacon cut from the end of a loin joint I had bought for tomorrow, seeing as I had bought this from a supermarket the meat was covered in useless packaging and had been injected with water. The water ran out into the lid of the Billy Can that I was using as a frying pan and caused the vegetables to stew rather than fry.

Shallots would be more appropriate to use than onions but I just couldn’t be bothered to peel them.

If you are grating nutmeg on the serrated blade of a knife try to avoid also grating your finger, if you can’t avoid this inadvertently quaterising the cut on the handle of the Billy Can will stop the bleeding.

A sprinkling of finely chopped leaves adds a whole new dimension if you have them – I didn’t.

Try not to eat this dish out of the lid of a Billy Can with a hole melted in the side as the sauce will leak out all over you.

Don’t let the sauce boil or the cream will separate (as mine did) it will still taste fine but won’t look so good.

This dish also goes very well with leeks.

1 comment:

quin said...

I reckon you've found a niche here; I'm sure there's got to be a demand for a Ray Mears crossed with Nigella Lawson book and TV show.