I adore recipes that involve little effort yet taste incredible, and this is just such a dish. The great thing with poaching meat is the liquid around it mixes with the juices produced in cooking, and the meat stays wonderfully moist. Lentils are a seriously undervalued ingredient too, they are amazingly good for you and great value. They also don’t need any prior soaking. And anything that produces minimal washing up is a dish I will always love.
With just a handful of ingredients, and about five minutes of your time, you have a super supper for the whole family, just pop on some potatoes of your choice or get some crusty bread to soak up the gravy. Your only concern here is finding a pan with a lid big enough to fit your chicken in! (use tinfoil if you need to).
If you wanted to do this in a slow cooker it would work really well I expect, popping it on in the morning and coming home to it, you just wouldn’t get any browning of the skin, and you might have trouble getting it out in one piece! If anybody gives it a go that way please let me know how it goes.
For the ingredients I have given guidelines, if you only have one glass of wine, two carrots and half a leek you can still make this for example.
One chicken, anything in size from 1.2kg is good for a family of four
2- 4 carrots cut into 1-2 centimetre pieces
1-2 leeks cut into one centimetre pieces
2 garlic cloves roughly chopped
Few sprigs of thyme, or two teaspoons of dried
One to two glasses of white wine(approximately 250-500ml)
up to one pint of stock
One to two cups( 160-320g) of lentils (two will give you leftovers)
25-50g / 1-2oz butter
Half a lemon
Optional-red wine vinegar to serve
Salt and pepper
Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees C/ Gas mark 5 / 375 degrees F. Place the chicken into your pan, making sure that you will be able to get a lid on without it touching the bird. Pour the lentils in around the chicken, add the carrot, leek and garlic, salt and pepper and the thyme. Add the wine and stock so that the level in the pan is about half way up the chicken. Squeeze the juice out of the lemon into the pan and also add the lemon half. Cut slivers of butter and cover the breast and tops of the legs with it. This will greatly enhance the sauce and brown the bird.
Place into the oven uncovered for the first 30 minutes, then cover with your lid(or tinfoil if you don’t have a lid for your pan) for approximately another hour. If it is looking a bit dry add another half a pint/275ml of water or stock. If your bird is much bigger than 1.2kg than you will probably need to cook it for another half an hour.
Take out of the oven, and remove the bird from the pan to portion. I remove the legs from the body and then separate the drumstick from the thigh, take the wing with a little of the breast and then the breasts, which can be cut into two depending on how big they are. The meat should literally peel away from the carcass leaving nothing but the odd scrap.
Taste the sauce, I like the way wine vinegars complement lentils so often at this stage I will add a little squirt and stir it through, also some freshly ground pepper. It is entirely your call though as this tastes fabulous as it is.
I like to serve this in bowls so ladle the lentils, vegetables and sauce in, add the potatoes and two pieces of chicken each.