This was a divine dinner, again inspired by herbs from my garden, and vegetables from my CSA box (see top right of my blog for more info. on what that means). When what I think of as really Summery herbs start to grow (basil, Italian Parsley, oregano) I tend to forget about the herbs that I use in Winter like thyme for rich lamb dishes, and rosemary for slow-cooked chicken or beef dishes. I was just about to pluck some basil yesterday evening to go with my chicken when I got a whiff of my lovely english thyme, which guards one corner of my herb garden. It looked healthy and strong, and I remembered that I had been neglecting to use it! I immediately cut 5 or 6 sprigs and changed how I was going to cook the chicken.
I had a sumptuous bag of multi-colored pearl onions and a little bunch of fresh local carrots (again from my CSA box), and I decided on just those three vegetables. I love thyme with carrots, and, onions go with absolutely everything!
I really wanted to use my kale but did not want to cook it with the chicken. I instead cooked it on the side, adding a little heat and olive oil to give it it’s own distinct flavor. The pan sauce was delicately sweet, and I would have been quite content to have a bowl of onions swimming in sauce for dinner!
You will need: 1 cut-up chicken, 3 cups of red, yellow & white pearl onions (of course one color will dd also!), 4 medium carrots, sliced, 5 sprigs fresh thyme, 3 tbs capers, rinsed, (I use Roland brand), 3/4 cup white wine, 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1 1/4 cups water, coarse sea salt (I use Maldon salt flakes), several grinds black pepper, 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 12 -15 kale leaves, inner rib removed (use a knife and cut a V) and chop kale.
Preheat oven 425*
1 – First, blanch the onions. Put pot of water on to boil ,and, when it is boiling add onions and time for 3 minutes. Drain, and when cool enough to handle snip the end off where the plant grew out of the ground. Cut a little of the skin at the top edge with a scissors and peel or pop out the onion. Set aside.
2 – In big saute pan or roasting pan big enough to hold chicken in a single snug layer, add the carrots and thyme.
3 – Next add the chicken. Mix the liquids in a bowl (water, wine, cream) and pour over the chicken. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and tuck the onions around it. Toss the capers over everything and drizzle 1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil over chicken. Place in the oven for 40 minutes.
Take out, remove the breasts to a plate and cover with foil. Return the chicken to the oven for another 12 minutes. Let it sit to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
4 – When chicken has 15 minutes left to cook add a 1/2 cup of water to pan and bring to a simmer. Add kale and a 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cover. Simmer gently for 10 minutes (add a little more water if you need to). Take lid off and stir and drizzle with 1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Turn off heat, cover to keep warm.
To serve, lay a bed of kale down on a warm plate, top with chicken and spoon some vegetables and pan juices over everything; fit for a king!