03 January 2014

River Cottage Handbook #11 Chicken & Egg

Every year my friend, Ann, calls in October and says mark you wish list for Christmas. So I do. This year, Ann said, "I improvised." What did she mean? She meant she bought books on her own, with no supervision.
You can imagine how skeptical I must have been. There are three pages of books on my wish list. There is not a lot of room for error. So I must say, I opoened presents with a bit of trepidation. There was the River Cottage Handbook # 11 -- Chicken & Egg. Well you know I love me some chicken and egg books. I was a bit suprised to find that the River Cottage franchise had gotten up to 11 guides. (Actually, there are now even more.)
This is the best of both worlds: A book about chickens AND a cookbook! A lovely twofer!
Truth be told, the handbook is a bit heavy on the "raising" side of the chicken divide. But there are some truely wonderful recipes. Now I generally am opposed to nuts in my food, but sauced, they seem to be OK.

Chicken with Walnut Sauce

1 chicken, about 1.6kg, jointed into 8 pieces25g butter5 tbsp olive oil2 onions, peeled and finely sliced300ml dry white wine400ml chicken stock2 tsp sugar2 bay leaves3cm cinnamon stick (or 1 tsp ground)Freshly grated nutmeg3 large eggs120g walnut pieces8 garlic cloves, peeled and choppedA pinch of saffron strandsJuice of 2 limesA handful of parsley (or a third mint, two-thirds parsley), finely choppedSea salt and freshly groundBlack pepper

Have the chicken joints ready to cook. Heat the butter and three tablespoons of olive oil in a flameproof casserole or large frying pan (large enough to later hold the chicken pieces in a single layer). Brown the chicken in batches on both sides, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Don’t crowd the pan, fry the chicken in small batches, removing the pieces to kitchen paper as they are done.

Add another 1 tbsp. of oil to the pan and cook the onions over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened but not brown. Return the chicken pieces to the pan, in a single layer. Add the wine, stock, sugar, bay leaves, cinnamon and a generous grating of nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer gently for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the eggs for 10 minutes. Drain, cool under cold running water, then peel. Cut around the centre of the egg and separate the yolks from the whites.

Lightly toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan over a medium-high heat, shaking the pan. Add the remaining olive oil, then the garlic, and cook for a minute. Put the walnuts and garlic, egg yolks, and a few spoonfuls of the cooking liquid into a food processor and whiz to a smoothish paste. Stir this into the pan with the saffron and lime juice. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes or so, until the sauce has thickened. Check the chicken is cooked by piercing the thickest part with a knife to see if the juices run clear. If not, cook for another 5 minutes and check again. Finely chop the egg whites and sprinkle them with the herbs over the chicken.

A different spin on your usual baked chicken!

Thanks, Ann, for asking that eternal question: Which came first? The chicken or the egg cookbook.


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