I wasn’t going to write about our Valentine’s Day. It was very unromantic. At least, that’s what I thought at first.
To begin with, Steve and I didn’t even spend Valentine’s Day together. He was away for his work. So we decided to celebrate on Sunday the 12th. We were into our first week of the Dukan Diet*, so I made a Dukanised version of Poulet Suffisant en Cocotte for dinner. The recipe is from a little cookbook called The Best of France. It’s only a small gifty type book, but all of the recipes are exceptionnel.
Poulet Suffisant en Cocotte
- 1 chicken, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 teaspoon each of thyme & rosemary, minced or crumbled
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 large onion, 2 carrots, a celery stalks, coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ pound mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup drained and chopped tomatoes
- 2 cups chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 400°F/190°C.
Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with half the herbs and season it with salt and pepper. I browned it in a skim of oil in a big skillet, then transferred it to our ceramic chicken casserole. I love this casserole! I saw it in the window of the charity shop on the way home last September and went back first thing in the morning and bought it. It looks like it was made in the 1960’s, perhaps has a Scandinavian influence. Steve thinks it looks smug (which it does) so hence Poulet Suffisant, or Smug Chicken.
Then I sweated the chopped vegetables in same skillet I browned the chicken in, with a little water and with the lid on for about 5 minutes, followed by the mushrooms for another 5 minutes, with the lid off, stirring occasionally. If it starts looking too dry, add some of the wine or chicken stock or water All this time, no oil is required and the veggies soften up and even brown quite nicely. I never would’ve thunk it, because I cut my teeth on Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which is all about butter, oil and more cream, s’il vous plaît.
Stir in the wine, stock, tomatoes and remaing herbs and bring to the boil. If you’re using a vessel that you can put straight into the oven, put the hen in at this boiling point. Or pour the juices and vegetables over your chicken, in it’s unique ovenproof dish, once they’ve boiled. Hope that makes sense to you! I’m confused.
Cover the casserole and braise the chicken for about an hour, until the juices run clear when the thigh is pricked with a fork. I usually take the temperature with my instant read thermometer and look for 180°F.
Take the chicken from the pot. We discarded the skin a la Dukan. Carve it. Strain the vegetables from the stock to serve with the chicken. Skim the fat from the stock and reduce over high heat, adjust seasoning. Voila!
I was so interested in sitting right down to our romantic dîner pour deux, I didn’t take any ‘before’ photos. It was excellent. Very succulent and tasty. Although we can’t drink alcohol in the Cruise phase of the Dukan diet, it’s OK to cook with as the alcohol burns off. I actually used some dry Italian Vermouth and it imparted a lovely depth of flavour to the dish. Normally, I would have stirred in some soft, unsalted butter at the end, but it was really good without it. In fact, that’s one thing I noticed from the start with the Dukan diet. Food doesn’t need to be cooked with butter to be good. I feel light when I get up from a Dukanised meal, because it’s so low fat. This time of year is a good time to be doing this, as Spring is coming and the days are slowly lightening up and lengthening.
Well, the meal together in our candlelit salon was wonderful and romantic. Even though we’d spent the whole day together, we’d each been in our little worlds. Then we went back into the kitchen and got back to work. Steve at his laptop and I looked over the collages I’d made the day before in Sandra Meech’s Digital Imagery Onto Fabric workshop.
We did take a momemt to have our Valentine’s Day portrait taken.
Anyhow, I started out by saying that I wasn’t even going to write about this. But we’re listening to Jazz FM and they just played ‘My Funny Valentine’ recorded by pianist Gene Harris. Steve and I looked at each other and remembered that everyday is Valentine’s day. And sometimes just being in the same space, even when we’re inhabiting our individual worlds, is romantic enough.
I couldn’t find Gene Harris’ version on YouTube, but I love Chet Baker’s from 1954 the best anyhow.
*For those of you who don’t know, Steve and I started the Dukan diet on 6th February, 2012. It really works!! Pass it on.