Rachel Allen is a cook, cookery writer, TV presenter, lover of great real food. She taught Jen at Ballymaloe Cookery School and this recipe is one that Jen comes back to time and again. She sometimes uses lardons and 8 pieces of chicken thighs on the bone in place of the piece of streaky bacon and 1 chicken. You can use cornflour to thicken the sauce if your family does not eat wheat flour.
Rachel says, “This is simple comfort food, just how it should be. If you like your casserole dish enough, serve the chicken straight from this in the centre of the table.”
- 450g (1lb) piece of streaky bacon, cut into 2 cm (3/4 in) chunks
- 4tbsp olive oil
- 1 chicken, jointed into 8 pieces
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 4 cm (1½ in) chunks, or 12 baby carrots, scrubbed and left whole
- 10 baby onions, peeled or 4 medium onions, peeled and halved (red onions are good too)
- 6-8 garlic cloves, peeled
- 400 ml (14 fl oz) chicken stock or, failing that, water
- Sprig of thyme, rosemary or sage
1. Put the bacon into a small saucepan of cold water and bring up to the boil to remove any excess salt. Drain, then dry the bacon on kitchen paper.
2. Heat up a frying pan, add 2 tbsp olive oil and sauté the bacon until golden and crispy.
3. Remove to a casserole then add the chicken to the pan, adding more oil if necessary. Sauté the chicken for a few minutes until golden, then move to the casserole.
4. Next sauté the carrots, onions and garlic for a minute, seasoning salt and pepper, then add them to the other sautéed ingredients in the casserole.
5. Deglaze the frying pan by adding the stock to the frying pan over high heat, dissolving all the juices on the bottom. Then pour the stock into the casserole.
6. Add a sprig of thyme, rosemary or sage and put into at 160°C/325°F/gas 3 for about 45 minutes or until cooked.
7. Strain the juices if you like (if you haven’t added flour at the start; see note below), spoon any fat off the top and add back into the spoon.
8. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley. Serve with mashed potatoes.
NOTE: You could put potatoes on top of this in the casserole.
NOTE: You could also add 150 mil (5 fl oz) of white wine into the stock when you are deglazing the pan.
NOTE: If you want the juices to be slightly thick, you could toss the chicken pieces in flour seasoned with a little salt and pepper before you brown them, making sure not to burn them. Or you could thicken the juices with some roux at the very end, then pour it back into the chicken and vegetables.
**Always check the ingredients of any food you’re cooking with to make sure it doesn’t contain something you or your child should avoid.