Week 59: Chicken, Tomatoes, Tarragon

Did I mention that the weather had turned? It has, it’s gone really nippy round our way. This week I was instructed to make something meaty and cosy.  I don’t think I’ve used Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things on a Plate for a few months, after the beany-kale thing, but the funny smell cleared and for some reason the ‘meat and two veg’ chapter appealed to me…

This is a dish that could feed the masses, it calls for a full chicken, but I wasn’t sure about eating it for a full week when I didn’t know if I liked tarragon. I reckon I could joint the chicken though if I were to cook this for 6-8; I saw Fanny Craddock do it with a pair of secateurs.

To serve 6-8 you will need: a chicken (1.8kg-ish jointed into 8 pieces, skin and bone on), 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 glass of white wine, juice of half a lemon, 500g ripe tomatoes and a bunch of tarragon. Unfortunately I had a slight chicken fail, I couldn’t get hold of any chicken pieces with the skin and bones on, so I got a pack of thighs instead.  Ho hum.

Turn the oven on to 190/gas 6 and heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan to a medium-high-ish heat.  While these are heating up rub salt and pepper into the chicken pieces.  Sear the chicken pieces in the frying pan until they are golden brown all over, then put them in an oven dish.  While these are browning squeeze the juice out of the half lemon.

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Pour half a glass of white wine into the pan, giving it all a good scrape around the bottom to loosen any chicken from the bottom. Pour into the chicken dish, then add the lemon juice and some more salt and pepper. Foil over the dish and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

If you’re having this with mash then you’ll need to prepare the potatoes before the thirty minutes is up (and if you’re having it with brown rice you should probably have put the rice on this morning sometime). Also, you’ll need to quarter the tomatoes.

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When the 30 minutes is up take the dish from the oven, remove the foil and add the tomatoes (cut side up, snuggling with the chicken pieces) and put them back in the oven for another 20-25 minutes (uncovered)

Check the chicken pieces are cooked and then scatter the chopped up tarragon leaves over the top.  Toss everything around to mix in the tarragon and then leave it to stand for a few minutes while the flavours infuse together. Serve.

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I would definitely make this again, and I would even make it for other people. I was a little worried about the tarragon because I don’t like aniseed, but it wasn’t strong so I really liked it! I’m not very good with  portion control, I accidentally made more than would usually be seen in an episode of Bodger & Badger and I was a little worried that the plates wouldn’t make it to the table… But they did! Hurrah!

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I think I could have put a little more wine and lemon juice in because there wasn’t much sauce, maybe a smaller dish would have kept the moisture in?  Yum!

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Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury 2012, ISBN 9781408828588)

three good things on a plate

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