With everyone in the family germified and generally feeling under the weather and unhappy, including myself, I almost decided against my plan for dinner. But a warm, chicken-y stew sounded like it just might hit the spot. And so I got to cooking once my workday was done.
Coq au vin. A tasty, warm, comforting french dish. No, that’s not quite right, the chicken I had on hand was at one time female. Poulet au vin? Close, but no; I have no red wine on hand. Or at least, none I want to use on dinner. Poulet au vin blanc! White wine makes for a nice change every once in while, but, I almost forgot, I’m out of thyme. Eh, I have a better idea: poulet au hydromel, “chicken braised in mead”. Oh, this will be interesting.
Here are the ingredients, for starters:
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 12 oz. salt pork, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- 2 small onions peeled and chunked
- 6 shallots diced
- 6 oz baby carrots
- 4 large chicken breasts
- 6 peppercorns
- 8 coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp. rosemary
- 1/2 tsp. marjoram
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 4 tbsp. flour
- dry mead to cover
- basmati rice
- 1 tbsp. brandy
- 2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
I started by adding the oil to the pan, and using kitchen shears I chopped the salt pork into the pan. The goal is rendering it. Doesn’t take long.
I added all the vegetables to the oil and pork in the pan, and cooked until soft. Then I transferred all to a colander with a bowl to catch the oil, which gets added back to the pan. The vegetables stay to the side during Step 3, out of the pan.
I took the chicken breasts and cut them into medium-sized chunks using the kitchen sheers. I browned them to satisfaction. It is not necessary to cook all the way through! I probably could have cooked them to a nicer brown, but they were still a bit frozen, which generated a little more water than desired.
I added the vegetables on top of the chicken, and added all the spices, pre-measured, to the pan. Then I mixed that all together, finishing by covering all with mead. Usually, as I’ve already mentioned, this is a wine dish – red or white depending on what you feel like. But today it is mead, honey wine. To cover, it took about 1 1/2 75 cl. (standard) bottles of homemade “traditional” dry mead. And usually I use equivalent amounts of thyme and marjoram, not coriander or nutmeg. But I thought both with go with the mead nicely (and I was right).
I brought this to a simmer, then reduced the heat and covered. It cooked for about an hour. The hour is a nice pause to sit down with a glass of the mead, as well as make the basmati rice (or noodles, or plain white rice, or whatever; this time it was basmati because it’s what I had readily available). It’s also plenty of time to tell the kids that it is time for dinner and to wash up (not that they will necessarily pay attention).
Finishing touches! The chopped parsley got tossed in the pan, a nice bit of bright green against the light caramel dish. And I also added the bit of brandy. Then it was on to the table.
Dinner is served
It went over well. I especially liked the coriander and what it did, in conjunction with the mead. My son cannot be expected to judge food, as it is all detestable to him – he ate little except the rice with pepper. But everyone else enjoyed it, though Jenna was unimpressed when she bit down on a peppercorn. I find the occasional peppercorn delightful, myself. Sigh. A good sigh, I mean, like the feeling you get after you’ve just had a good meal and you want to sit back and just rest. Exactly like that.