I did not grow up in a house with meat. When my parents moved to London for nine months in 1973, my father had just become a vegetarian (herring and his mother's salmon were "honorary vegetables"), and as they kept a kosher home, they brought only one set of dishes with them for the year.
Time went on, my sister and I were born, we moved into the larger upstairs flat, and still my parents thought they would one day move back to the States (to where, however, they were never quite sure). So, we still only had only dishes for dairy, and no meat entered the home. My mother and I ate meat whenever we had the opportunity, but from a young age my sister joined my father in "not eating her friends" (apart from my grandmother's lamb chops which were also an "honorary vegetable").
There is nodoubt that my love of food was born in my family home, under my mother's tutelage. My compulsive cooking is definitely a learned trait, and I am still practising my pastry to try to meet her standards. But, while we now cook very differently (it has been over 40 years since my mother cooked any meat), I owe my love of cooking and cookbooks to her completely.
I was quite comfortable in the kitchen by the time I left home for University, but I really did not cook meat (outside of marinades for b-b-q's) until I set up my own kitchen. There, under the guidance of the old classics of the Joy of Cooking, The Silver Palate, and Claudia Roden, and the newcomers of Nigella Lawson, Nigel Slater and Simon Hopkinson, chicken, in many varieties, swiftly became a staple meal.
I have been making it regularly for almost 13 years now, and while there is slightly more faff involved than just chucking some chicken pieces in the oven and leaving them for an hour or so, it is really not hard, and the results are tremendous. Please give it a try and let me know what you think.
Chicken Cooked with Bay, Garlic and White Wine
Adapted from The Moro Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark
10 chicken thighs (or any pieces of chicken you prefer)
4 tbsp olive oil
2 bulbs of garlic, cloves separated, skins on
8 bay leaves (I prefer fresh)
250ml (1 cup) white wine or fino sherry
125ml (1/2 cup) water
salt and pepper
Wash and dry the chicken making sure it is very dry
Season with salt and pepper
Put a large heavy saucepan or frying pan with tight fitting lid over medium heat and add the olive oil
When hot add the garlic cloves with skins on and cook until lightly golden
Remove from pan and immediately add the chicken to the pan skin side down and sear. It is important that you do not crowd the pan, so you may need to sear it in batches.
Cook chicken for 5 minutes skin side down or until golden and turn over and cook another 3 minutes
Add all the chicken pieces to the pan, add the reserved garlic and bay leaves and pour over wine or sherry
Shake the pan when you add the wine to emulsify with the oil and simmer for 2 minutes until the alcohol has evaporated
Add the water, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for a further 20 minutes or until the chicken pieces are cooked through. Season and add more water if required.
I usually serve this with rice and a green salad.
Note: I love to cook the chicken this way as when the wine emulsifies with the oil, it creates a wonderful creamy gravy which I have never achieved in quite the same way when I cook all these ingredients in the oven.
I would love to hear your favourite chicken recipes.