Rule 1: Never buy an unhappy chicken. Rule 2: Never waste leftovers. The second of these two recipes uses the leftovers from the first to make a delicious soup.
Chickens are such useful creatures and funny too. I like them to look at, to eat and I like eggs. My neighbour has a small flock which regularly escape into my garden and peck around looking lost. 'Encouraging' them back home is hilarious. Wafting, rather than flapping, an apron at them is quite helpful.
I like their funny little grumbly noises as they noodle about looking for tasty bits in the grass and under the trees. Theirs is a simple, happy life. They taste better because they eat bugs and stuff. Buy that kind of chicken.
Because I like chickens so much, I have rules (see above). Here's two ways of sticking to those rules.
Slow Cooked Chicken with Lemon, Cider and Tarragon
- 1.5kg whole chicken (do NOT wash the chicken)
- 6 banana shallots, halved
- 500ml dry cider
- 4 tsps Dijon mustard
- 3 tsps caster sugar
- 750ml chicken stock
- 3 carrots, cut into large pieces
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- A few stems of tarragon (tarragon is a very strong flavour, so don't overdo it)
- Olive oil for sautéing
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp creme fraiche (optional)
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and thoroughly brown the chicken. Remember, it won't pick up any colour in your slow cooker so this is important for the final appearance.
- Lightly caramelise your onion pieces in the same pan.
- Put your chicken and carrots into your slow cooker.
- Add the mustard, sugar and cider to the onions in the pan and bring to a simmer.
- Add the chicken stock, lemon wedges and tarragon stems to the pan. Stir.
- Pour the hot mixture around the chicken.
- Cover and cook on high in your slow cooker for 5 hours. If you don't have a slow cooker, use a covered casserole dish in the oven at 140°C for 5 hours.
- To make 'Health & Safety' happy, check the juices run clear from the chicken when pierced with a knife.
- Place the chicken onto a serving plate and surround with vegetables.
- Put a few ladles full of the cooking juice into a pan and keep warm - this is your gravy.
- If you want to add creme fraiche, its best to whisk this with a few spoons of the juice in a separate bowl to make sure it combines otherwise you can end up with nasty looking lumps floating in your cider gravy. Add this mixture back into your gravy.
- Season to taste. For this recipe, think about seasoning with sugar as well as salt and pepper.
- Carve your chicken as usual. Serve with the lemon-cider gravy and vegetables.
Prep time: 20 minutes. Cooking time 5 hours.
Do not throw away any bones, skins or leftover meat; in fact try and leave a bit on there.
You need the carcass and bits for Part 2.