Slow Cooked Tarragon and Cr'me Fra?che Chicken
WITH cranberry-orange wild rice ALSO GOOD WITH pan-seared green beans (see note 1) OR garlic braised broccoli rabe (see note 2)
This is a fairly fancy dish that would be wonderful for a Friday-night dinner party. Just a touch of tangy, thick cream, stirred in at the end, gives the flavourful sauce a rich, velvety consistency (a hit with the immersion blender is essential here to smooth out and emulsify the sauce, which will have separated during the day). Spoon it over a mixture of wild rice and brown rice scented with orange and cranberries, and perhaps toss a few cold-weather lettuces in lemon juice and olive oil to serve alongside.
In the morning
Brown the chicken and shallots and load up the cooker.
In the evening
Stir the cr'me fra?che and more dried tarragon into the chicken sauce.
2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
910g well-trimmed boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 heaping tsp dried tarragon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tbsp brandy (optional)
2 tbsp cr'me fra?che
In a large skillet or saut? pan, heat 1 tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with 1 heaping tsp of the tarragon, several pinches of salt, and several grindings of pepper, then add to the pan, folded into little bundles with the smooth side out (the way they're often packaged in the store) so they fit in the pan. Cook until nicely browned on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes, then use tongs to turn them over and brown the opposite side. Transfer them to the slow cooker, still shaped into their compact bundles.
Return the pan to medium heat and add the remaining 1 tbsp oil. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and lightly browned, about 3 minutes, then add the brandy (if using) and 240ml water and stir up any browned bits from the pan. Scrape into the cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the chicken to a bowl (along with some of the shallots). Stir the cr'me fra?che and remaining 1 heaping tsp tarragon into the sauce in the cooker and season with salt and pepper to taste. Return the chicken to the sauce and serve.
Cranberry-orange wild rice
135g brown rice
130g wild rice
35g dried cranberries
grated zest of - orange
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp unsalted butter (optional)
Put the brown and wild rices in a sieve and rinse under running water. Dump into a medium saucepan, add a large pinch of salt and cold water to cover by about 2.5cm, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain well in the sieve and rinse under cold running water and drain again. Rinse the pan with cold water to cool it down, then fill it with about 2.5cm of water and put a collapsible steamer basket in the pan. Dump the rice into the steamer basket. Sprinkle the cranberries and orange zest over the rice, cover, and refrigerate.
Transfer the rice pot from the refrigerator to the stovetop. Still covered, bring the water in the bottom to a boil and steam the rice until tender, about 15 minutes. Lift the steamer basket out of the pot and dump the rice into a large bowl, fluffing it with a spoon or rubber spatula and incorporating the cranberries and orange zest. Add salt to taste, a few grindings of pepper, and the butter, if you'd like. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.
Pan-seared green beans
1 tbsp unsalted butter
340g green beans, trimmed
In a large skillet or saut? pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the green beans, spreading them as evenly as possible in the pan, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cook for 2 minutes without disturbing them, then toss, sprinkle with salt, and cook for 2 minutes longer.
Pour in 60ml water, cover, and cook for 4 minutes, then uncover and cook, tossing occasionally, until the beans are tender and blackened in spots, about 3 minutes longer. Serve.
Garlic braised broccoli rabe
1 bunch broccoli rabe (about 400g)
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of crushed red pepper
MORNING OR EVENING
Wash the broccoli rabe and trim the bottoms of the stems. If you'd like, cut the bunch crosswise into 5cm lengths; or leave the leaves and stalks whole. Crush and peel the garlic cloves but keep them mostly whole.
Put the garlic cloves and oil in a large deep skillet or saut? pan. Place over medium heat and cook slowly, turning the garlic with tongs, until the garlic is golden and softened, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe, stock, a good pinch of salt (less if your stock is salted), and the crushed red pepper. Cover and cook over medium heat until the broccoli rabe stems are tender but not mushy, about 10 minutes, turning the greens in the pan halfway through so they braise evenly. Serve.
Extracted from Slow Cook Modern: 200 Recipes for the Way We Eat Today by Liana Krissoff (Abrams, approx €21.50). Image - 2017 Rinne Allen