heard on the wire

Chicken with bacon, sage and onions

Sage

I’m not quite sure how I came upon this method for cooking chicken pieces, but I’m very glad I did. It’s not particularly quick — though much faster than roasting a whole bird — but it is easy and delicious.

You will need a pan that can go into the oven, or a casserole dish that can sit on the hob.

First fry some chicken pieces in some olive oil, butter or a mixture of both until the skin is golden-brown (the result won’t be as good with skinless pieces). Any more than three or four pieces (depending on the pan size) and you will have to cook them in batches. Remove the browned pieces from the pan with a slotted spoon.

Throw some bacon lardons into the pan and fry over a medium heat, tossing occasionally, until they have given up most of their fat and started to brown at edges. Remove with the slotted spoon, but keep separated from the chicken pieces.

The onions come next: soften gently in the oil and fat from the bacon. One soft, translucent and slightly golden, throw in the cooked bacon, two or three whole, peeled garlic cloves, a dozen sage leaves and a sprig of thyme¹; stir and season. Then add a glass or two of white wine or vermouth and a squeeze of lemon. Finally place the chicken pieces skin-side-up on top of the onions and bacon.

The pan then goes in the oven at 180°C for about 10 minutes or, for a better result, set the oven to 130° and cook for 20 minutes. You can even go all Heston Blumenthal and cook it at 70° for about an hour before turning the heat up to 180° five minutes before serving.

Serve with mashed potatoes or a plain risotto and something green.


¹ The herbs are a matter of taste and availability. Tarragon would work well in place of the sage, a bay leaf wouldn’t go amiss, or just cook it herb-free.

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