What are the Dunmow Fitch Trials? Check out yesterday's post!
When that lucky couple wins their flitch of bacon, they'll have half a pig to eat. Might I suggest cooking up this dish? It's chicken braised in a vegetable-filled, bacony broth seasoned with lemon, crème fraîche and a bit of whole-grain mustard. It's divine with herby mashed potatoes and a crisp Chardonnay. You can also add a green salad as a starter.
July Chicken Casserole
2 tablespoons lard
1 (3 to 4 lb) chicken, jointed*
3 rashers bacon, cut into lardons
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced
4 scallions, sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup crème fraîche
sea salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large oven-safe, lidded dutch oven, melt the lard over medium-high heat until very hot. Brown the chicken pieces on both sides and remove to a plate and season with salt and pepper. You'll probably only be able to fit half the chicken pieces in the pot at a time.
Sauté the bacon, leeks, scallions, celery and carrots for a couple of minutes and season well with salt and pepper. Add the stock, mustard, zest and crème fraîche and stir well to combine. Add the chicken pieces back to the pot and bring everything to a boil. Cover and cook in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
Remove chicken to a warmed serving plate and place the pot back on the hob to reduce the gravy, as desired. Test for seasoning. When gravy is thickened, pour it over the chicken pieces. Serve with herby mashed potatoes.
July Chicken Casserole can be reheated over low heat in a covered pot, stirring occasionally, until gravy comes to a boil. You may wish to add a bit more chicken stock.
serves 6 to 8
Adapted from "Spring Rabbit Casserole" in Hilaire Walden, ed., Traditional British Cooking (London: Hermes House, 1997), 120.
*There's a good video on YouTube from Epicurious about jointing a chicken. I usually cut the breasts in half as well.
Herby Mashed Potatoes
1 lb new potatoes, cooked (either boiled or baked)
1 scallion, sliced
leaves from 3 or 4 parsley stalks, minced
1 tablespoon butter
sea salt and pepper
Mash up the potatoes and place them in the top of a double boiler. Add scallions, parsley and butter and stir to heat well. Add enough cream to make potatoes a good mashed-potato consistency (about 2 to 4 tablespoons). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Lard is unhydrogenated and from humanely-raised, growth-hormone-free, etc. etc. pigs (I get mine from Chef Shop.)
- Chicken is free range
- Bacon is from humanely-raised, growth-hormone-free, etc. etc. pigs (I used Niman Ranch bacon.)
- Vegetables, herbs and lemon are organic
- Chicken stock is homemade (instructions here)
- Butter is organic and from pastured cattle (like Organic Valley Pasture Butter)
- Cream is unhomogenized, raw or vat pasteurized (like Kalona Supernaturals)