As you would have probably assumed with yesterday’s post, I am currently on a bit of a mission to re-vamp old recipes and in this process, I’m discovering all the recipes that my mom used to love. It’s almost therapeutic to be ‘communicating’ with her through her notes and her recipe books. Yesterday I received an e-mail from a reader who asked me if it’s not very hard for me write about my mom because losing a parent must be so hard. My answer was that, yes, it is very hard. But for me NOT writing about her would be even harder. She was my best friend and the best mother anyone could ask for (not only was she kind, patient and gentle but she was cool too. She even played online games with my brothers). And I feel like I’ve handled her passing really well. And that, once again, is all due to her. When we found out she had cancer the doctors knew it would be terminal and from that very moment she started talking to me about it and she did that because she knew I needed to hear it. I was only 18 but I needed her to be honest with me. We lied on her bed for hours crying, laughing and telling each other how much we loved each other. It was only a year from her diagnosis to her death but that year was probably the most precious of all the 19 years we had together. We spent so much quality time together and I had absolutely no regrets when she passed. And for that I am incredibly grateful.
Back to the cooking, even though I’ve now seen my mom actually really liked cooking (or the idea of it), I’ll never forget her staple meal. The meal I would feed to the dogs, hide under my bed until 3am then sneak to the kitchen to throw it away, etc. Granted, I was a 16-year old brat who wanted burgers, pizza and fried fish every night so it might not be that her cooking was all that terrible. This meal was chicken thighs that she would oven braise in Apple cider vinegar, chicken stock and Aromat. She would add peeled potatoes, frozen green beans and serve it with steamed rice and salad. Just thinking of it now makes me feel a bit pale. But you have to give it to her, she was definitely one of the first 20-minutes cooks, this meal took her all of 10 minutes to put together and she left it in the oven until we needed to eat. Genius!
I’ve decided to upgrade the recipe slightly and my version is a little bit more elegant and dare I say, a lot more tasty? But one thing I wanted to keep was that it would be simple and fast to prepare before popping it into the oven. I did brown the chicken off before to give a bit of colour and extra flavour but if you are pressed for time, just use skinless chicken pieces and pop all the ingredients into the pot. I served ours with a simple Parmesan Risotto and grilled courgettes which complimented the tangy, creamy chicken perfectly.
8 chicken pieces (you could also use chicken leg portions, in that case, only use 4)
1 onion, halved
1 carrot, halved
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
200ml (6.76 fluid ounces) white wine (I used Chardonnay)
250ml (8.45 fluid ounces) cream
300ml (10.14 fluid ounces) chicken stock
fresh thyme stalks
salt & pepper to taste
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°c.
- In a large, oven-proof pot, brown the chicken all over.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and add the onion, carrot and garlic to the pot, allow to fry for 30 seconds then add the bay leaves and wine.
- De-glaze the pan, scraping all the sticky bits off the bottom. Add the cream and allow to simmer for 2 minutes.
- Add the chicken back to the pot and pour over the chicken stock.
- Add the thyme stalks and cover the pot. Place in the oven and allow to oven braise for 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove the lid from the pot after 30 minutes and allow the sauce to reduce for 15 minutes.
- Season to taste and serve.