Thursday, 1 December 2011

What to Cook for Sick People - Poulet au Pot

Food to fix you up
'Don't worry, we still need to eat...fix us with  your food please.' was the response I got when I queried whether or not two snivelling friends were still coming over for supper. I thought they might have changed their minds but Hannah and Tash wanted to come and eat, and probably share a few germs. Poulet au pot is one of those gentle, soothing dishes, for when  you really aren't feeling great. Spicy noodle soups are great for chasing a hangover away but when you are actually bug ridden and fragile for reasons not involving too much grog, a softer approach is sometimes needed. What you get with this recipe is soft juicy chicken, poached in a light fragrant broth flavoured by the poulet and the herbs, and equally flavoursome and comforting veg.

Feeds four (with left over chicken and stock): You do need a massive casserole dish for this, one big enough to take a whole chicken and then some. Put a whole chicken in the pot. Rub the insides with 1tbsp each of pounded peppercorns and juniper berries and stuff it with a few sprigs of parsley and thyme and a few slices of ginger. You could get fancy and tie up the herbs in a bouquet garnis but I didn't have any proper string and didn't want a Bridget Jones style blue soup moment. Cover with water, properly submerging the chook. Add two leeks, trimmed and halved length ways (keep the root intact). Put the lid on and bring to the boil. After about 20 minutes add to the stock two large peeled and quartered potatoes, a peeled and chopped (big chunks) swede and a big handful of baby turnips. Keep bubbling away for another 20 minutes and then add some carrots, halved and sliced length-ways. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix 3 very finely chopped shallots, 2 tbsp chopped tarragon, 2 tsp white wine vinegar and 3 tbsp olive oil and seasoning. Check it for tang. By now the chicken and veg should all be cooked. Pull out the chicken and joint it (should pretty much fall apart on the chopping board). Peel away all the gross pale limp skin, if it's not crispy and brown I'm not interested. Stick all the veg on a platter, add the chicken, ladle a healthy amount of broth into bowls and let the invalids* help themselves to the meat and veg. Dribble the vinaigrette over the top and HALLELUJA! You are healed, my child!

*By no means deny yourself this dish when not feeling poorly, it's just a good one to pull out when you are.

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