On Saturday morning, as usual, I took my prospective Sunday dinner out of the freezer - on this occasion a whopper of a chicken from Swillington Farm. My intention was to roast it when I got back from Skipton, but my late return and lack of appetite after such a hard ride meant that it was left in the fridge for Monday's supper instead.
Come Monday, I got so caught up in other things that I didn't get into the kitchen until half past seven - far too late to start roasting a bird that big (it was over 5lb, so a good couple of hours cooking & resting time, never mind the preheating of the oven.) I did, however, have an idea. Our post-ride café in Skipton had, in classic greasy-spoon style, laminated cards pinned on the wall advertising the daily specials, one of which was smothered chicken - described as chicken cooked with bacon and barbecue sauce, topped with melted cheese. It sounded good, but a little over-indulgent. I jointed my chicken, had a bit of a ponder, and a rummage in the pantry, and came up with this:
Barbecue-style braised chicken for a cold winter night
A little oil
1 chicken, jointed into breast & leg portions (the carcase can go in the stock-pot - there shall be soup on Wednesday!)
5 slices of salami (about the thickness of a pound coin) sliced into matchsticks (alternatively, a couple of rashers-worth of smoked bacon lardons)
1 large onion, sliced
half a jar of grilled peppers, drained of their oil
2 tbsp balsamic or sherry vinegar (I buy big bottles of Aspalls balsamic for cooking)
2 cups tomato passata (or a tin of chopped tomatoes)
1 cup chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Heat the oil in a large frying or sauté pan, brown the chicken portions on both sides and remove them to a plate while you prepare the sauce. In the same pan (adding a touch more oil if you need it - though you probably won't) gently fry the onions, adding the salami and peppers once they begin to soften. Once the salami has turned golden, turn the heat to its lowest setting, deglaze the pan with the vinegar, add the passata and stock and stir together until hot. Pour the sauce into a baking dish big enough to hold the chicken pieces, dip the chicken into the sauce skin-side down then arrange it skin-side up on top of the sauce. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, basting the top of the chicken pieces once or twice.
Serve with something starchy to soak up the excess sauce (I used couscous because it's so ridiculously quick and easy to prepare, but potatoes in almost any form, pasta or rice would do nicely too, even a chunk of nice bread) and something green, because it's good for you!
As there are only two of us, I made this with the intention of having some leftovers - lunch today was a sandwich of thinly sliced chicken, with mayo on one side and swedish dill-mustard sauce on the other (and was very delicious) and tonight's supper will be my take on our favourite takeaway pizza (The James Whisky Night Special, No.21) - I'll reduce down the remaining sauce to pizza-topping consistency, add slices of the chicken and some mozzarella and a last drizzle of sauce on top before baking. And on that note, I should go & mix up some dough!