I know that, strictly speaking, this should be navarin of lamb. I did briefly hover over the lamb counter, but before I’m ever able to pass from hover to purchase so many images of sweet, fluffy new-born lambs dancing in the long spring grass come to mind that I just can’t do it. Mind you, now that we have hens and I see them living their free-range lives, chicken will no doubt be off the menu soon too!
From an idealistic perspective I should probably be a vegetarian, but I remain entrenched in my conviction that we are meant to eat at least a small amount of meat. I’ve also seen too many miserable-looking vegetarians for it to be an attractive proposition; why is it that they so often look grey and dour?
The term ‘navarin’ is really a reference to the vegetable content of the dish and not the meat, so here is my Navarin for Sensitives Souls:
Ingredients (serves 4)
4 chicken wings and 4 legs
4 spring onions
10 baby carrots
4 baby leaks
6 new potatoes
4 baby turnips
cup of peas
seasoning (salt, pepper, chicken stock)
bay leaf, rosemary, fresh mint
2 glasses of dry white wine
Slice the onions and gently brown in a casserole dish in the olive oil. Add the chicken pieces and seasoning and brown gently for a couple of minutes. Add the wine, chicken stock and herbs. Bring to a gentle simmer and add the carrots, leaks, turnips and potatoes. Place in a preheated oven (180°C) for an hour and then add the peas and sliced courgettes, making sure that the liquid level in the dish is still at least 3cms. Cook for a further 20 minutes and add the fresh chopped mint just before serving.
This dish is traditional Sunday fare in Aquitaine. It was made popular by Henri IV who declared his hope to be that France would become peaceful and prosperous enough for every family to be able to enjoy ‘poule au pot’ every Sunday. This is obviously my ‘take’ on the dish; I don’t think that French families had access to Lee and Perrins sauce in Henri IV’s day.
Today is election day. Here’s to hoping that our next president will bear Henri’s good intentions for peace and prosperity in mind…
Ingredients (serves 6)
3 cloves of garlic
3 medium carrots
1 cup of peas
5 mushrooms (sliced)
glass of white wine
Lee and Perrins sauce
2 tablespoons of redcurrant jelly
seasoning to taste (sea salt, pepper and paprika)
Lightly brown the onion, garlic and mushrooms in the olive oil in a casserole dish. Add the chicken and brown on both sides. Add a good slug of Lee and Perrins and the redcurrant jelly and continue heating. Add the sliced carrots, rosemary and bayleaf and turn chicken right-side-up. Season generously and add the glass of white wine. If you don’t have any wine open, you can use apple juice for a sweeter taste, or just water with a tiny bit of chicken stock.
Put the lid on the casserole and cook in a medium oven (150°C) for about an hour and a half. You should check half way through that there is still some liquid left in the bottom of the casserole (a couple of centimetres is ideal). If there is too much liquid you could take the lid off for the last 15 minutes. The peas and sliced courgettes should be added about 20 minutes before serving so that they stay firm.
This is lovely served with mashed potato any green vegetable.