Herbs In Your Garden To Complement Chicken Dishes
Throughout this blog you’ll find a myriad of ideas on how to grow, use and benefit from all types of herbs. I also thought it would be really cool to show you one of my favourite recipes from a retro cookbook. You can also easily adapt it to suit your tastes by adding your favourite vegetables or additional herbs. Also, you can make it in bulk and store loads to use later on.
Old school book of awesome. The Cookery Year. First Revision 1974. The Reader’s Digest Association Limited. Printed in Great Britain.
If you are growing any of the following herbs at home this poultry recipe give a great example of how to make use of your produce: sage, lemon thyme, marjoram, bay leaf tree, parsley.
Some great fresh herbs to use when cooking chicken – (from top clockwise) oregano, lemon thyme, bay leaf, sage.
My adaptations of the recipe to suit my more ‘modern’ kitchen are included however feel free to adapt to your liking! Chicken is most often paired with intense, flavoursome herbs. You have probably already come across, or are definitely going to at some point if you look into recipes with poultry, a delicious Italian influenced chicken dish where the meat is cooked in sage leaves and butter (or oil). Delicious!
Recipe: An Adaptation Of ‘Cock-A-Leekie’ Soup, Or As I Like To Call It, “Plump Chicken Soup”
Bulk cooking of the Cock-a-leekie soup, a fantastic brunch, snack or dinner option.
As explained in the Cookery of the Year cookbook, this is a traditional soup originating in Scotland. Apparently when cockfighting sports were a big thing the loser had the bad luck of being chucked (in addition to leeks) into the stock pot. It was later that prunes were added for flavor. I also find the result of adding the herbs listed below just wonderful.
Allow approximately 10 minutes for preparation time (or more if you are chopping up lots of extra vegetables).
The original recipe recommended two hours of cooking time. However I like to think this can be significantly reduced as we would be using a plump chicken rather than a scraggly old tough rooster, so the ‘tenderizing time’ as I like to call it is much quicker however if I have some time up my sleeve I like to let it boil for at least an hour.
For 6 servings (just increase the level of stock to cover any additional vegetables and meat you may decide to add):
- 1 whole chicken approximately 1.4 kg; or just a standard chook ready to roast from the local butcher, markets or supermarket preferably organic and definitely free range
- Whole peppercorns (4-6)
- 2-4 leeks (you can add trimmed leeks or add some of the green part whatever you like will work here)
- 8-10 prunes (if not pitted just remember to keep a feel for them when eating!)
- 2 cups of frozen vegetables or freshly cut vegetables of your choosing (I use whatever is in the freezer or fridge – examples of fresh items could include a few of these – carrot, broccoli, squash, sweet potato, corn cut off the cob, mushroom, bok choy, lighter or leafy vegetables such as spinach snow peas thrown in at the end)
- Parsley to garnish
- 3 sprigs of lemon thyme or plain thyme (or both)
- 2 bay leaf fresh
- A small handful of marjoram or oregano (or both)
- Water usually 1.5L or 6 cups, or enough to cover the chicken and vegetables once in the pot. If you want a more broth style soup to add more, if more hearty add less. You may choose to add a stock cube or two at the end if you would like a more salty flavor to the dish.
Tips before you start
- Firstly, because I am never organised enough to have time to soak prunes for hours, I just put them in boiled water from the kettle for a few mins while i prepare the rest of the ingredients. In a large pot with a lid place the chicken, remaining herbs except for the parsley, and the peppercorns and cover with cold water.
- AMAZING DISCOVERY with boiling a whole chook – I use kitchen scissors to cut the chicken into about 6 pieces before adding it to the pot. This makes it (a) much easier to cover the chicken in water and (b) much more manageable and quick when taking the meat off the bones later on). made it so much easier to take the meat off later on.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for approx 45min-1 hour with a tight-fitting lid.
- While this is simmering away cut the leeks (make sure they are thoroughly washed so as to remove any dirt) into small rectangles (approx 2-3cm long). This is easily done by splitting the leeks lengthways and then cutting into small strips).
- Chop up any other vegetables you have into 3-5cm lengths or cubes etc (just roughly is fine, a nice bite-sized chunk as it were). If you are using frozen vegetables you can just throw them in after the next step ->
- Take the lid off and remove any scum that you can catch floating on top of the water. Add the leeks, vegetables, and prunes and simmer for approx 30-45 mins or until the vegetables are cooked.
- Using tongs and a fork or knife, lift the sections of chicken out one by one to remove any cartilage or bones from the soup. I also remove the skin at this point. You can cut larger pieces of meat into smaller pieces if you like. It’s easier to take the whole piece out, put it on a chopping board, scrape off the meat and add it back in rather than trying to do mid-air over the pot. Put the big nice pieces of chicken breast meat aside to use in another dish (this I thought was AWESOME another meal ready to go!!).
- Remove the bay leaves and any stems from the thyme or other herbs (the leaves should have fallen into the soup already – if not just scrape them in). Add salt / or stock cubes/ and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately with delicious crusty bread, a dollop of natural yoghurt, or alone. Very good to keep in the fridge (I only store for 1-2 days).
- Also very good to add to freezer containers when it has cooled down a bit and store in the freezer for delicious meals or snacks later on!