Tuesday, March 15, 2011
This is the kind of dish at which our Haggis woodstove excels. Do not ask Haggis to stir-fry--that is not in the Haggis genes. Haggis will sear a steak only reluctantly. Haggis is a phlegmatic creature; sudden changes in mood do not suit Haggis. Haggis can cook an egg, or an assemblage of eggs, like a frittata, very well, slowly brown a piece of meat or fish, render bacon solicitously.
But where Haggis really shines is in the long, slow simmer. On a winter afternoon still deep in the white but leaning toward spring, Haggis emanates a gentle heat for hours, coddling a pot of chicken and vegetables flavored with homesmoked bacon. The pot never comes to a boil--it's kind of a backwoods half-assed sous vide, if you like. In the end the broth is deeply, beautifully imbued with the flavors of all the components, yet the meat and vegetables retain their integrity--the vegetables are still a bit crisp, the chicken is not stringy or washed-out tasting.
This is the kind of simple food I love, and I think one grows to appreciate this kind of cooking over time. It's a good thing that some benefits come with age.
Chicken Bacon Hot Pot
Very slow cooking produces a succulent broth and meat and vegetables that retain excellent flavor and texture.
2 ounces slab bacon, in 1-inch chunks
4 chicken thighs or a small chicken quartered
1 large carrot, quartered the long way, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 medium onion, sliced
1 rib celery, halved the long way, cut into 3-inch lengths
4 small potatoes
3 cloves garlic, whole, unpeeled
1 turnip, peeled and quartered
¼ cup white wine or dry vermouth
2 sprigs thyme
A light vinaigrette
Brown the bacon in a heavy dutch oven. As it starts to render fat add the chicken and brown well on both sides. Remove the bacon and chicken from the pot. Drain off excess fat, leaving about one tablespoon in the pot. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic cloves. Sauté until lightly browned. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Return the chicken and bacon to the pot. Add four cups of water, the thyme, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.
Cook at the lowest simmer, the surface just shivering, for 60 minutes. Do not let the liquid boil. Add the potatoes and turnip. Simmer 60 minutes more, or until the vegetables are tender. Serve with dijon mustard, cornichons, and a bowl of vinaigrette on the side, if you like.
Text and photos copyright 2011 by Brett Laidlaw