4 chicken legs (ie, with thighs and drumsticks), about 920g in total
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
Salt and black pepper
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1.5cm chunks
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
5g thyme sprigs
500g vegetable stock
50g anchovies in oil, drained and finely chopped
400g pappardelle, ideally fresh (or substitute tagliatelli)
40g rocket leaves
Put the chicken in a bowl and toss with the oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper.
Put a medium, heavy-based casserole for which you have a lid on a medium-high heat. Sear the chicken legs (in two batches, if need be) for five minutes, turning them once, until the skin is dark golden brown, then remove from the pan.
Put the carrot, onion, garlic, bay and thyme in the pan and cook for five minutes, stirring regularly, until softened. Return the chicken to the pot, add the stock, anchovies and a good grind of pepper, then cover, turn the heat to medium-low and leave to simmer gently for an hour.
Lift out the chicken from the pot, turn up the heat and boil for 10 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by a half and you have about 300ml left. Meanwhile, pull the meat off the chicken bones in large chunks; discard the bones and thyme stalks.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, cook the pasta until al dente, then drain. Add the chicken meat and pasta to the reduced sauce and vegetables, mix well, then divide between four plates, layering the rocket between tongfuls of the pasta mix. Drizzle with oil and serve.
We love chicken, we like pasta but, and this I find strange, we have very few recipes for chicken AND pasta. You would have thought there were loads but I struggle to find them. Maybe the Italians don't like Chicken or its all too white, but whatever it is I don't have many successful recipes that combine these two favourites into a successful meal (except for a pesto chicken pasta which I will put up at some time).
So imagine my pleasure when I found that the God-like Yotam Ottolenghi had published a trio of Chicken and pasta dishes in the Guardian last weekend. I am a great fan of (early) Ottolenghi, and many of our Pop-Ups have essentially been an homage to the great man. I think he is mainly good for the summer though - which is not a criticism, just an observation. He seems both more confident and successful when dealing in food that he is not trying to make work in an adopted (and cold) culture. His food for warm days is fantastic, I am not as convinced of his attempts at winter comfort for English taste. However, I would give him the benefit of the doubt and try one of the trio as part of my "try to cook something new" initiative. I chose this one as I thought it would please the maximum number of the Offspring and, as it is Brownies night, I was not under pressure ot cook quickly but had the time needed to braise the chicken.
If you read the original article in the paper, you will see he is trying to get as much flavour as possible into the chicken by slow cooking. Again, a laudable objective and to bolster this he uses the cheap parts of the chicken - legs and thighs - which tend to have more flavour anyway. And in this one, the flesh is removed from the bone after braising so the Offspring could not recognise which part of the chicken was being used (they tend to reject brown meat on a roast).
You will see from the family verdict that this recipe was not a real hit. I think I need to be more specific about the reasons for this, because I think there is the essence of a tasty dish here that could be constructed - but the current recipe was not a hit. The reason was mainly to do with the vegetables in the dish - specifically the carrots and the rocket. The carrots, after being braised for an hour where soft to the point of baby food, and also overwhelmingly sweet. The addition of the rocket added some interesting colour contrast, but nothing to the overall flavour. The chicken meat and reduced stock were very tasty. The melted anchovy added a savoury note which contrasted with a sweetness in the sauce, which I guess came from the carrot. I would eat the chicken and stock on pasta readily, missing out the carrot and rocket, and probably adding some grated parmesan to give a more muscular robust umami note. It also needs something to give a textural contrast, something crisp or crunchy - this may have been the idea behind the rocket, but it does not work. As it stands, this can pretty much be eaten without teeth - which may be handy, but is a little unsatisfactory for those who have working dentures.
Give it a try though - it is quite different and Your Lot may like it more than mine.