Slow-braised chicken with herby cream recipe
I love the way a simple one-pot braised chicken can carry you through the year, with little tweaks hinting at the season – a handful of chestnut mushrooms and a little crème fraîche in November, a few cherry tomatoes, basil and plenty of lemon in July. For this late March version, I wanted something that would be warming but not feel totally out of place on a day when the sun makes a brief matinée appearance.
This recipe will give you a lovely light broth helped along by a little sweet smoked paprika on the chicken skin and some garlic and fennel seeds in the pan. A dash of Worcestershire sauce and some lemon makes the liquor bright and full of flavour, and you’ll pass round a bowl of herby cream for everyone to stir through their dish at the table. If you’ve managed to get your hands on a bunch of wild garlic, definitely add some to the cream. I used parsley and mint, but any soft herbs would do.
For the chicken
Olive oil, for frying
4-8 chicken thighs and drumsticks
A little sweet smoked paprika
2 large leeks
2 large carrots
A handful of thyme sprigs
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds
250ml dry white wine
2 lemons, juice and zest
A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
400ml cold water
For the cream
A small bunch of parsley (leaves and stalks), finely chopped
A small bunch of mint (leaves picked), finely chopped
2 tbsp double cream
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Sprinkle salt and a big pinch of paprika over the chicken skin.
2. Set a large casserole pan over a medium heat with a splash of olive oil. Add the chicken pieces (skin side down for thighs) and fry until nicely browned (about 10 minutes). Then remove from the pan and set aside.
3. Meanwhile prepare the leeks and carrots. Cut them into chunks about 3in long, on a diagonal. Add to the hot pan with another pinch of salt and the thyme. Cook for five minutes, then add the garlic and fennel seeds and cook for another minute. Return the chicken to the pan. Ideally, the pieces should sit in one layer.
4. Pour in the wine and let it bubble up. Then add the lemon juice (keep the zest back for the cream), Worcestershire sauce and water. Bring to a simmer, then put the pan in the oven, keeping the lid off. Cook for an hour. The liquid should reduce and the chicken skin should brown nicely.
5. While the chicken is cooking, mix the herbs with the cream, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and plenty of black pepper.
6. To serve, give everyone one to two pieces of chicken, some veg, plenty of liquor and a dollop of herby cream.