“Spring Chicken” In Wintertime

Last night was the second time we made this dish and it turned out just as good as the first time. This is another Nigella recipe and is a great one pot meal. You really do only get ONE pot dirty. You don’t have to wash like 6 pots and pans after this. Quite refreshing. Some things make sense in this dish and a couple of other things seem different… braised in hard cider…chopped romaine lettuce add in at the end. The ingredients really work well together. I’m not always the biggest advocate of adding bacon to recipes because it can overpower the flavors. But in this case, it just adds another depth and gives it some nice saltiness. You could always use turkey bacon if you didn’t want to use regular bacon. I use my larger Le Creuset dutch oven to make this. If you don’t have one just use a heavy bottom large pot that has a lid. Just warm up a baguette or other crusty bread in the oven and use it to sop up all the yummy juices. This is Nigella’s recipe…I added my commentary in italics.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

1 t vegetable oil

5 ounces pancetta/lardons (1/2 cup) or 10 slices bacon chopped

12 chicken thighs, bone-in (with or without skin)

1 leek, cleaned, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced

1 celery stalk, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2 t dried tarragon

1 t kosher salt (or ½ t table salt)

Dash of white pepper (use black if you don’t have white)

2 cups dry hard cider

2 1/3 cups frozen peas

1 T Dijon mustard

1 small romaine lettuce heart thinly sliced or roughly shredded

2 T chopped fresh tarragon (I can’t find this lately so I left it out)


Heat oil in a large, wide Dutch oven that comes with a lid (and can be taken to the table) and add the cubed pancetta (or lardon or bacon), cooking them until they begin to give off their juices and start to color.

Add the chicken thighs (skin side down if using skin). I can’t find skinless, bone-in organic chicken thighs so I just remove the skin myself. Toss the cubes of pancetta on top of the meat to stop the pancetta from burning (if necessary) as you put the poultry in the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat.

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.

Pour cider in and then sprinkle in frozen peas on top. Bring pan to a boil, then cover, turn down to a very gentle heat, and cook for 40 minutes. If you are using bone-less chicken thighs (which isn’t preferable) cook for only about 20 minutes.

Remove 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.

Scatter the chopped tarragon over the dish and take the steamily fragrant pan to the table with pride.

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