During winter, it’s desirable to stay warm and cosy. The same goes for the food we choose to eat when it’s cold – something to sooth and warm us from the inside out. Chicken is the kind of healthy, restorative food that gives me succour in winter and reassures me when life gets a little hectic…
One of my favourite meals to warm me from the inside on a cold winter’s night is Nigella Lawson’s “Poached chicken with lardons and lentils” (from her cookbook, Kitchen). The recipe involves tender chicken, vibrant vegetables, lentils and pancetta or bacon. Once the vegetables, lentils and bacon is cooked, the chicken is placed on top and water is poured in to poach the chicken. By the time the chicken is cooked through, the water has become a stock and has partially absorbed into the vegetables and lentils.
While the original recipe specifies using chicken marylands, I happily use a couple of chicken thighs with the skin on and bone in. Nigella also stipulates that you may use smoked lardons, pancetta or bacon – here, I have chosen to use pancetta.
While I’ll admit, the first time I made this I was experiencing hot rather than cold weather (living in the Top End of Australia at the time), I was in dire need of something to take the hell out of my day. Absorbing myself in my tiny kitchen, chopping away at the vegetables and serenely stirring them together with the bacon in my pan sent me on the path to self-possession.
“You cannot truly say you live well unless you eat well.” – Nigella Lawson
By the time the English mustard and water were added and all was bubbling away with the chicken placed on top, lid clamped on, the smell of my soon-to-be meal alone had restored me to my happy self. Sitting down to eat it was bliss!
This time around – having long returned to a cooler part of the country – this poached chicken has been perfect food to wind down with, wrapped up in a blanket while watching “MasterChef”.
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