The challenge in my new kitchen was arriving without any of my trusty kitchen tools, you know… pots, pans, that special spoon, etc etc.
Well, that is not entirely true. When we were trying to figure out how to pack for 4 months away from home, (which incidentally involved travelling around for about 3 weeks before we finally settled in our apartment in Cortona), I insisted on packing my giant, All Clad pan! I couldn’t envision my future with out! My man Dave rolled his eyes and shook his head as I strategically shoved it into my suitcase, arguing that it was the ideal pace to store my socks and underwear.
I should also mention that after the pan was safely installed, I shoved in another small pan, my favorite tongs, a good knife, a champagne stopper, a bottle of sriracha sauce, a can of chipotle peppers, Maldon salt, tea, 32 vegetarian bouillon cubes, a can of curry powder, a container of pure maple syrup, a stack of cooking magazines and my favorite Mario Batali cookbook.
Yes, I am slightly nuts, but I accepted that, years ago.
Things turned out a little differently than I had hoped. I only remembered when I got to Ireland and saw my sister’s oven how much smaller a standard oven is in Europe. My pan looked ridiculously big on the stove top and was far too monstrous for the oven! I had carried a pan over three thousand miles, only to leave it in Ireland, to be picked up on the way home.
My decision not to haul the pan to Italy was the only sensible one I made. As I suspected, the oven and stove top were smaller and I would have to be content with what was provided. As I searched through the cabinets I was relieved to find several good-sized pots, however, the frying/sauté pan was a dingy non-stick affair with the “non-stick’ bits coming off. There was no pan that could be used as a casserole for the oven, not even a ceramic or glass baking pan; this would be a challenge.
Then I had a revelation, or more like a “kick in the behind” moment. Who did I think I was ??? I grew up in Ireland with no running water in the house, a solid fuel stove, and very limited pots and pans. Now, here I was, all high and mighty, and whining about my lovely new kitchen in the most beautiful town in the world!
I got a grip of myself and proceeded to turn out this amazing little dish using an old saucepan, with a lid from an enamel pot that had probably been thrown out years ago. I decided to use the saucepan like a casserole pot and cooked this chicken dish in the oven. The leeks from the local vegetable stall, along with chicken from a few miles away tasted so delicious, I have a feeling that cooking with less than perfect equipment will not hinder the flavors in any way.
Chicken With Leeks
You will Need: 3 chicken legs, 2 chicken breast fillets, 3 leeks, halved & sliced (white parts and into a little of the green), 3 carrots, sliced, 3 celery ribs, sliced (including leaves), 1 sprig fresh rosemary, 1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes, 2 tsp mild curry powder (optional), 2 cups white wine, 3 cups chicken broth (or 3 cups water, 1 good quality veggie or chicken bouillon cube), 4 cups cooked rice.
Preheat oven 350*
*If you would like rice, cook it before you do anything else. (you can also omit the rice and serve with some crusty bread)
1 – Prep all veggies and place in the bottom of a big oven-proof pot or casserole (which has a lid). Add the herbs and curry powder (if using)
2 – Pour in the wine and broth and place the chicken pieces on top, tucking the breast under the legs (keeps them moist). Season with some sea salt and pepper. Cover with lid and place in oven for 2 hours.
3 – Take chicken out of the pot and slice breast and take meat off of legs.
To serve, add some rice to shallow bowls and give you diners a bit of each meat *(or in my case, breast to son, leg meat to daughter!), followed by some generous ladles of broth and cooked veggies. Sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper flakes (if you like), and you are ready to chow down!