Tuesday, October 11, 2011
While most of cooking friends have all been knee-deep into their fancy colored Dutch ovens (I'm sorry Le Creuset, but made-in-France doesn't make your Dutch ovens French) and raving on how their heavyweights changed their lives, it took me awhile to join in the cast iron fun - so long, I only lugged one home two weeks ago. Only it's neither colored nor the (largely) overpriced brand. Ever since a friend pimped his sister's black cast iron casserole (bought from Sendai!) to me, I began to lean towards a black double Dutch oven with an unglazed exterior.
So one afternoon after a (rather unsatisfying) experience at Singapore's first Brunetti (not the same as Melbourne's, unfortunately, at least for the desserts and pastries), we ventured here and I made a beeline to the kitchen section while Vijay padded around praying I won't burst my purse with unnecessary purchases. Having previously eyed this beauty the previous few times we were there, the salesgirl told me it was on sale. There was a swift moment of consideration and next thing I know I was paying for it at the counter. Vijay wasn't even consulted - this annoyed him a little I think, until I made it up to him with this dish the next day.
If you've been with me long enough you'd by now know I'm infatuated with more than a few recipes from The Australian Gourmet Traveller. Having mentally bookmarked this seemingly unassuming one-pot French chicken, rice and mushroom number in the back of my head, I dug the July issue out somewhere from our growing mount of books against the living room wall and officiated my brand new cocotte with it. The result - juicy, tender chook with just-cooked, flavorful rice - unexpectedly became a huge hit with the other half, receiving a stellar score of 10/10 and followed by quite an impatient demand of "So when will you make this again??"
Luckily for Vijay he didn't need to wait long. As we hosted our friends from Maameemoomoo and Mrs. Ergül's Kitchen Haven along with the men in their lives, an encore of this sans pork made it to the dining table, equally good with some salted fish and a few tablespoons of goose fat. Along with Sherie's rosemary wholemeal buns and curried cauliflower and cheddar soup, a large bowl of apple salad plus Pei Lin's passion fruit cheesecake pots and these insanely dangerous little dark chocolate and peanut butter devils, dinner inevitably continued pass supper time and before we knew it it was one in the morning.
I guess, despite their up-the-roof-priced Dutch ovens and all, the French do know a thing or two about chicken, rice and mushrooms. As Vijay put it, even their 'chicken rice' can rival ours. You will not be disappointed.
Note: The menu above is explorable - click through to check out the recipes for the night's entrées and desserts from my best ladies!
Chicken with Rice and Mushrooms [Printer Friendly Version]
Adapted barely from the July 2011 Issue of The Australian Gourmet Traveller.
Cooking time 1 hour (plus standing) Prep time 20 minutes
Note: I've replaced some ingredients like speck and vermouth with what I have and added some porcini mushrooms. For a halal or non-pork version of this dish, replace speck/bacon with beef bacon or salted fish and the alcohol with chicken stock and a dash of vinegar.
- 1 chicken (about 1.8 kilograms), at room temperature
- 1 garlic head, halved horizontally, plus 4 extra cloves, finely chopped
- 1 bunch each tarragon and thyme, plus extra tarragon leaves to serve (marjoram also works)
- 30 grams butter, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 100 grams bacon bits
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 200 grams/1 cup long-grain rice (I used basmati)
- 120 milliliters Muscat
- 500 milliliters/2 cups hot chicken stock
- 150 grams dried porcini mushrooms (optional)
- 150 grams small Swiss brown mushrooms, halved (larger ones are fine, just quarter them)
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 200°C. Rinse and soak the rice for 20 minutes. Bring the chicken stock to a boil, meanwhile, prep the other ingredients. Remove stock from heat and add in the dried porcini mushrooms if using. Cover and let stand. Rinse chicken inside and out under cold running water, pat dry with absorbent paper and season inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff with garlic head, tarragon and thyme (reserve 3 sprigs of each), tuck wings under and tie legs together with kitchen string.
Heat butter in a casserole over medium heat, add chicken, turn occasionally until browned on all sides, for about 4-5 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside. Add oil, onion, bacon and chopped garlic to the casserole, stir occasionally until just tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add rice and stir briefly, just to coat. Add Muscat and simmer until reduced by about half, 1-2 minutes. Add chicken stock with the soaked porcini, Swiss mushrooms, bay leaves and reserved herbs. Top with chicken and bring to the simmer.
Cover with a tightly fitting lid, bake until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender, about 35-40 minutes.
Remove from oven and let stand, without removing lid, for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, for prepare the salad of your choice. I made an apple salad which is similar to this pear salad, lightly dressed with just olive oil and grainy mustard. To serve, remove chicken from casserole, tipping chicken so its juices run into the rice. Carve chicken and serve hot with rice mixture, scattered with extra tarragon, and salad.
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“Just like becoming an expert in wine–you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford–you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simply or luxurious. The you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.”
Julia Child (Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
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