We are definitely feeling the cold in Bahrain at the moment and although our winters are short-lived, it is a welcoming change from our searing hot summers. Outdoors we can wear our winter woolies and indoors it is a good time to put the casserole pot to good use and cook piping hot hearty oven-to-table family meals. What I love about one-pot meals, they can be as simple as this Braised Chicken with Tomatoes, Potatoes and Herbs or more elaborate, like Beef Bourguignon. This fuss free one-pot meal takes little time to prepare and as the dish is completely cooked in the casserole pot, there is hardly any washing-up to do.
Use tomatoes that are very ripe, firm tomatoes will not release as much juice and your dish might end up a little dry. During cooking the braising ingredients release tasty juices, some of which are soaked up by the potatoes… making them very flavorsome indeed. The fresh whole chickens available in Bahrain’s markets are not very heavy in weight (Delmon Poultry Company seem to supply the heaviest), so you might need to use two smaller chickens instead.
You may have noticed the little pink accessory in the photographs! These silicone food loops are handy kitchen accessories to have when tying together the legs of a whole chicken or turkey when cooking, also handy for tying up meats and vegetables and are re-usable. Also, if you love one-pot meals, braises and stews I definitely recommend investing in a decent casserole pot, also called a French oven or a Dutch oven. My favourite are the ones you can use on the stove top or oven, and look good enough to place at a table. Although very heavy, I would not be without my large enameled cast iron Le Creuset pot and believe it has been a worthy kitchen investment and with care should last me a life time. Do you have a favourite casserole pot?
One-Pot Braised Chicken with Tomatoes, Potatoes and Herbs
- 1 chicken weighing about 1.5kg (remove the lump of fat from the inside end of the chicken and cut away any hanging excess skin)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of un-salted butter
- 4 medium potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and thickly sliced
- 2 medium red onions, peeled and thickly sliced
- 1 leek, thickly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 6 medium ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped finely
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped finely
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
How to make: Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºC/Fan 160ºC/Gas 4. Season the inside of the chicken with salt and black pepper. Heat a large casserole pot on medium heat, add the olive oil and butter. When the butter has melted brown the chicken on all sides, this will take about 10 minutes. Do not let the butter burn, reduce heat if necessary. With the help of two large spoons lift the chicken out and place on a plate. Remove some of the fat from the casserole pot, leaving about a tablespoon behind.
Add the sliced, potatoes, onions, leek, garlic and tomatoes, rosemary and thyme to the pot. Season generously with salt and black pepper, mix all ingredients together and cover, cook the ingredients on gentle heat for about 5 minutes. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables, sprinkle a little sea salt and black pepper over the chicken. Place the lid on the casserole pot and cook the dish in the oven for about 1 hour and 20 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Take the casserole pot to the table, spoon some of the juices over the chicken and either carve or cut the chicken into pieces while serving on warmed plates.