One of our family favourites is a Nigella Lawson recipe for a Spring Chicken casserole, from her book ‘Kitchen’. It’s simple to make, chock full of vegetables and goes down a storm with both our kids. Visitors can’t get enough of it either!
We cook this recipe all the time – and, most unusually for us, make very few changes to the original recipe (available online on Nigella’s own site, here). It’s a pretty much perfect dish as it is – fresh and filling with a subtle, more-ish flavour. We eat it on it’s own with chunks of crusty bread, and mix any leftovers with fresh pasta. Don’t be tempted to substitute other herbs for the tarragon, even if you don’t use it much usually, and make sure you use fresh, not dried. Tarragon has got an incredible and very distinct flavour that really defines this dish, anything else just pales by comparison.
What follows is our own personal take on Nigella’s spring chicken recipe, with the few tweaks and lazy-parent simplifications we’ve made.
Nigella’s Spring Chicken Casserole
- 1 tablespoon of oil (we use olive oil, but veg oil is what Nigella uses)
- 12 (skinless & boneless) chicken thighs
- 1 packet of lardons (or a couple of slices of bacon, chopped up, or a pack of pancetta)
- 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
- 2 leeks – chopped not so finely
- 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 400gm (frozen) garden peas
- 500ml dry cider (the proper alcoholic kind – not apple juice!)
- 2 gem lettuce, chopped roughly in strips
- 2 teaspoons of dried tarragon
- A big handful of fresh tarragon, chopped finely
- 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Fry the lardons/bacon/pancetta in a little oil until they start to brown.
- Add the chicken thighs and cook gently on one side only for about five minutes (you don’t want too much colour), taking care not to burn the lardons.
- Turn the chicken over, and add the chopped garlic, celery and leeks.
- Stir in the dried tarragon and season with a little salt and pepper.
- Cook for a further five minutes
- Add the cider and frozen peas, and then bring to the boil.
- Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 20 – 30 minutes (checking that the chicken is cooked through).
- Once the chicken is cooked right the way through, add the fresh tarragon and dijon mustard, and stir in.
- Sprinkle the lettuce on top (don’t stir it in) and heat for a few minutes until this is gently wilted.
- Serve Nigella’s spring chicken with crusty bread (or garlic bread).
Got leftovers? Cook up a pan of fresh pasta (we like to use fresh gigli pasta), reheat your spring chicken and then toss together for another yummy meal!
Still hungry? Try one of our other family favourite recipes!