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Spring Chicken

by . Featured in KITCHEN
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Introduction

This is really a tweaking of a fairly traditional rabbit recipe. The chicken is easier to come by in a supermarket, though, and more likely to please generally. You can leave the skin on or off the thighs, as you wish, but I think it’s important that the bone be left in. This is just my preference (I think it boosts flavour) but bear in mind that this is a pretty easy-going recipe, and you could use thigh fillets if that’s easier, or indeed – at the other end of the spectrum – a whole chicken, portioned.

This is really a tweaking of a fairly traditional rabbit recipe. The chicken is easier to come by in a supermarket, though, and more likely to please generally. You can leave the skin on or off the thighs, as you wish, but I think it’s important that the bone be left in. This is just my preference (I think it boosts flavour) but bear in mind that this is a pretty easy-going recipe, and you could use thigh fillets if that’s easier, or indeed – at the other end of the spectrum – a whole chicken, portioned.

Spring Chicken
Photo by Lis Parsons

Ingredients

Serves: 4-6

Metric Cups
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 140 grams pancetta cubes or lardons or chopped bacon
  • 12 chicken thighs (bone in, with or without skin)
  • 1 leek (cleaned, quartered lengthwise then finely sliced)
  • 1 stick celery (quartered lengthwise then finely sliced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes or 1/2 teaspoon pouring salt
  • good grinding white pepper
  • 500 millilitres dry cider
  • 300 grams frozen petits pois
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 little gem lettuce (cut into strips or roughly shredded)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 5 ounces pancetta cubes or lardons or chopped bacon
  • 12 chicken thighs (bone in, with or without skin)
  • 1 leek (cleaned, quartered lengthwise then finely sliced)
  • 1 stick celery (quartered lengthwise then finely sliced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon pouring salt
  • good grinding white pepper
  • 2 cups dry hard cider
  • 2⅓ cups frozen petits pois
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 small heart of romaine lettuce (cut into strips or roughly shredded)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large, wide casserole that comes with a lid (and can be taken to the table) and add the pancetta cubes (or lardons or bacon), cooking them until they begin to give off their juices and start to colour.
  2. Add the chicken thighs (skin-side down if yours have skin), tossing the pancetta cubes on top of the meat (to stop the pancetta burning and to make space) as you put the poultry in the pan, and cook for about 5 minutes over a medium heat.
  3. Turn the thighs over and tip in the prepared leek, celery and garlic. Season with the dried tarragon, salt and pepper, then stir everything around a bit, letting it cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in the cider, then sprinkle in the frozen peas. Bring the pan to a boil then cover, turn down to a very gentle heat and cook for 40 minutes. Do check after 30, though, to see if the chicken is cooked through, and if you are disobeying me and going boneless, then 20 minutes should do it.
  5. Remove the lid, stir in the mustard, and then toss the shredded lettuce over the chicken, letting it wilt in the hot sauce for a couple of minutes.
  6. Scatter the chopped tarragon over the casserole and take the steamily fragrant pot to the table with quiet pride.
  1. Heat the oil in a large, wide casserole that comes with a lid (and can be taken to the table) and add the pancetta cubes (or lardons or bacon), cooking them until they begin to give off their juices and start to colour.
  2. Add the chicken thighs (skin-side down if yours have skin), tossing the pancetta cubes on top of the meat (to stop the pancetta burning and to make space) as you put the poultry in the pan, and cook for about 5 minutes over a medium heat.
  3. Turn the thighs over and tip in the prepared leek, celery and garlic. Season with the dried tarragon, salt and pepper, then stir everything around a bit, letting it cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in the cider, then sprinkle in the frozen peas. Bring the pan to a boil then cover, turn down to a very gentle heat and cook for 40 minutes. Do check after 30, though, to see if the chicken is cooked through, and if you are disobeying me and going boneless, then 20 minutes should do it.
  5. Remove the lid, stir in the mustard, and then toss the shredded lettuce over the chicken, letting it wilt in the hot sauce for a couple of minutes.
  6. Scatter the chopped tarragon over the casserole and take the steamily fragrant pot to the table with quiet pride.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD NOTE

The chicken, without lettuce, can be cooked 1 day ahead. Transfer to non-metallic bowl, then cool, cover and refrigerate as quickly as possible. To reheat, return to casserole dish, cover and reheat gently, for around 20 minutes, until chicken is piping hot all way through. Add a little water or chicken stock if pan becomes too dry. Add the lettuce and continue as directed in recipe.

FREEZE NOTE

Cook and cool the chicken as above, then freeze in airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in fridge and reheat as above.

MAKE AHEAD NOTE

The chicken, without lettuce, can be cooked 1 day ahead. Transfer to non-metallic bowl, then cool, cover and refrigerate as quickly as possible. To reheat, return to casserole dish, cover and reheat gently, for around 20 minutes, until chicken is piping hot all way through. Add a little water or chicken stock if pan becomes too dry. Add the lettuce and continue as directed in recipe.

FREEZE NOTE

Cook and cool the chicken as above, then freeze in airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in fridge and reheat as above.

Tell us what you think

What 3 Others have said

  • Made this for Dinner last night and it was a big hit. Even though it is not Spring in Oz, I added some Cannelli beans to give it a more Autumn twist. lol

    Posted by Khiera on 22nd March 2016
  • Absolutely brilliant. Ended up mixing up different turkey meats as each family member has their own preference; replaced tarragon with some other fresh herbs and it turned out marvelous. Thank you!

    Posted by mag07 on 18th March 2015
  • Made this for lunch today and it was delicious--subtly flavoured and nourishing. Wasn't sure what to serve it with, so made the following tweak: reduced chicken to eight pieces, and (keeping with the spring theme) added half a dozen diced new potatoes with the peas. There was plenty of juice to go round. Shall definitely be making this again!

    Posted by Fan in Japan on 11th May 2014
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