Just recently, over a long, loquacious and admittedly rather liquid lunch* we discussed the infinite possibilities of chicken.
We had actually just eaten a fair amount of the stuff and conversation led on about what a fantastic product it was, with talk about the amount of recipes and techniques out there. And we came to the philosophical conclusion that as an ingredient, it was boundless.
But do we shout about it enough? No, not really. And so it came to pass after that afternoon, with a fist on the table, that we should sing some more about our free-range poultry - sourced from Adlington Farm in Warwickshire.
This is a classic winter warmer that uses a combination of leek, tarragon, mustard and cream. All of which delivers a rich kick at the start, satisfaction throughout and a sigh of contentment at the end, once finally tucked away in your belly.
Opting for two chicken breasts and two chicken oyster legs will tick the box for four. But you could mix things up, using chicken breast only. Or chicken thighs, depending on your preference. You would do well to buy a whole chicken and break it down at home - if you are feeling confident enough. The leftover meat will come in handy for another meal (risotto?) and also the bones will be excellent to use for stock.
Like we said, the possibilities are boundless.
*Said lunch was held for Tom and Milly, who have now left EC1 and have headed to Warwickshire themselves to set up their own butchers. We wish them all the best luck!
Ingredients - serves 4
25ml vegetable oil
2 sprigs rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 small bunch of tarragon
25g unsalted butter
3 large leeks, trimmed and sliced into rounds
500ml medium cider
300ml double cream
2 tbsp English mustard
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
First, season the chicken pieces generously and place a large frying pan over the hob on a medium to high. Add the chicken breast and legs to pan, skin down and fry for 5 minutes to brown off
Turn everything over and add the thyme, rosemary and bay and cook off for another 3 minutes.
Take a casserole or pot and place that on the hob, over a medium heat and add the butter. Once it has melted, add the leeks and stir through for a good 10 minutes, until the leeks are nice and soft.
Chop up half the tarragon, stalks and all and add to the leeks, stirring through for another two minutes before adding the cider. Reduce by half and then add the cream, mustard and the chicken legs only at this stage.
Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes and then add the chicken breast to the pot, to cook for another 15 minutes. Leave the pot uncovered, so that the sauce reduces and thickens.
The chicken will be done after this time but if you like the meat to be extra tender, simply cook for another 10 minutes.
Check for seasoning right at the end and serve with creamy mashed potato.