Monday, July 25, 2011

Praised Chicken, Nigella Lawson

Today, my dear bf woke up with a cold, and stayed home from work sick. He had a fever and slept half the day, so because I was off work today as well, it was my duty to be the caring gf. Chicken soup was on the cards.

I went to my local butcher and bought a whole chicken - hormone and chemical free as well as organic. It was $16.95 for a 2kg chicken, which is a fair bit more than your run of the mill chicken. Upon getting the bird home though, it was worth it, plenty of meat, plump and juicy. The added reassurance that its free of nasties I dont even know how to pronounce, or that I could never begin to explain how they got in the chicken in the first place, really for me is worth every cent.

I grabbed some celery, a few waxy potatoes, and flat leaf parsley. On a side note, I went to a masterclass run by Vince Gareffa, the founder of Perths Mondo di Carne, purveyors of Perths finest meats! Anyway he told us that you should only ever use flat leaf parsley, because of its superior flavour. He explained that curly parsley was like pubic hair, only for decoration and not to be eaten! Wise words!

Now, Im not going to go on about the recipe itself, its very simple. Here are the ingredients you will need, taken directly from Nigellas website;

  • 1 large chicken, preferably organic
  • 2 teaspoons garlic oil
  • 100ml white wine or dry white vermouth
  • 2-3 leeks, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into approx. 7cm logs
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into batons
  • 1-2 sticks celery, sliced
  • approx. 2 litres cold water
  • 1 bouquet garni or 1 teaspoon dried herbs
  • fresh parsley stalks or few sprigs, tied or banded together
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes or 1 teaspoon pouring salt
  • 2 teaspoons red peppercorns, or good grinding pepper
  • chopped leaves, from parsley stalks above
  • chopped fresh dill
  • English mustard


Serves: 4-8
  1. Get out a large, flame-safe cooking pot (with a lid) in which the chicken can fit snugly: mine is about 28cm wide x 10cm deep.
  2. On a washable board, un-truss the chicken, put it breast-side down and press down until you hear the breastbone crack. (As you may imagine, I like this.) Then press down again, so that the chicken is flattened slightly. Now cut off the ankle joints below the drumstick (but keep them); I find kitchen scissors up to the task.
  3. Put the oil in the pan to heat, then brown the chicken for a few minutes breast-side down, and turn up the heat and turn over the chicken, tossing in the feet as you do so. Still over a vigorous heat add the wine or vermouth to the pan and let it bubble down a little before adding the leeks, carrots and celery.
  4. Pour in enough cold water to cover the chicken, though the very top of it may poke out, then pop in the bouquet garni or your herbs of choice, and the parsley stalks (if I have a bunch, I cut the stalks off to use here, but leave them tied in the rubber band) or parsley sprigs
  5. The chicken should be almost completely submerged by now and if not, do add some more cold water. You want it just about covered.
  6. Bring to a bubble, clamp on the lid, turn the heat to very low and leave to cook for 1½–2 hours. I tend to give it 1½ hours, or 1 hour 40 minutes, then leave it to stand with the heat off, but the lid still on, for the remaining 20–30 minutes.
  7. Serve the chicken and accompanying vegetables with brown basmati rice, adding a ladleful or two of liquid over each shallow bowl, as you go, and putting fresh dill and mustard on the table for the eaters to add as they wish.
I did cheat a few ways, I had no leeks so put in the last of the spring onions from my garden, I added potato because I wanted to, and toward the end of cooking I added rice.

It was delicious. I took the chicken out and reduced the soup down a bit more (in hindsight this wasnt necessary). I shredded the chicken and added it to the bowl on top of the chunky, ricey chicken broth, and finished it off with some parsley. I wasnt even sick, and I felt renewed.

This is a family feeder, crowd pleaser, lone freezer stocker... I will be making this again, for 100%. Its so easy, delicious and comforting. So good.


  1. I think there has been a lot of mixed reviews about this recipe but I'm glad to read that you loved it. Did you get to make any of the leftover dishes which Nigella suggested, like the Thai Chicken Noodle Soup?

  2. I didnt actually, we just ate it all up how it is! I didnt even know there was leftover recipes! Ill have to have another look as Im sure Ill make some version of it again... Wasnt a big fan of the layer of fat that was on it the next day though, but I guess that comes with cooking a whole chicken, skin on, in water! :)