Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lemon and garlic chicken

I was lucky to spend my friend Alison’s last day of maternity leave with her. We decided to cook dinner together and, even more fun, grocery shop at one of my very favorite New York places, Essex market.

Essex market is a 65-year-old covered market in New York’s Lower East Side that was originally opened to get pushcarts off the crowded streets. The market has been shaped by the population of the neighborhood’s inhabitants and the city’s history, initially catering to the Jewish and Italian residents, then adapting to a new Puerto Rican population and, in the 1970s, suffering a decline as supermarkets and other shops with street fronts offered a more convenient and popular way to shop. The New York City Economic Development Corporation assumed direct control of the Market in 1992 when a previous effort to develop and reinvigorate the market failed. The market has been in a state of transformation and resurgence, and over recent years, a spate of off-beat gourmet shops have moved in alongside some of the more traditional Hispanic green grocers and market stalwarts like the fishmonger and butcher.

The market is a wonderful, eclectic place full of high-quality products and great buys. Apart from the dreaded schlepping of groceries home after an excursion, I love any excuse to roam around and shop the small stores, grab lunch at one of the small counters outside a restaurant outpost, or just check out the interesting ethnic products on offer. I love the experience of dealing with shop owners directly and love that each shop is highly specialized. Some of my favorites include Formaggio Essex, an outpost of a Cambridge, Massachusetts Italian gourmet store, Saxelby Cheesemongers, run by a young and very passionate foodie who largely sources local cheeses, and the main Hispanic grocery store that sells the largest avocados I have ever seen.

Alison and I conferred about recipes at a table by the entrance. and then set off to shop. We picked up cheeses at Saxelby’s, a chicken at the butcher, shallots, herbs, salad greens, French beans and other vegetables at the grocer, and then headed home with shopping bags hanging from every finger. What was on the menu? New recipes from Donna Hay to try of course: A one-pot chicken with lemon and garlic that looked fairly simple, and hey, who doesn’t love a one-pot meal? A baked risotto that, yes, requires no laborious stirring, adding liquids, and re-stirring: just baking. A great green salad. Steamed French beans. Some Rancho Gordo beans slowly cooked with onions, celery, carrot and garlic and a dessert Alison brought from a bakery she likes in Brooklyn.

Lemon and garlic chicken (adapted from Donna Hay)

1 lemon, halved
1 1/2 lb whole chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
12 shallots, peeled
1 head garlic, halved (remove very papery outer layers but keep garlic head intact)
1/4 cup brandy
2 cups riesling
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons tarragon leaves
steamed green beans to serve

Place the lemon in the cavity of the chicken and secure the legs with chicken string. Brush the chicken with half of the oil, sprinkle generously with sea salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining oil, shallots and garlic and cook for 10 minutes or until starting to caramelize. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the chicken and cook, breast side down, until chicken skin releases from the pan and is golden brown. Turn and cook on each remaining side in the same manner. Return the garlic and shallots to the pan, add the brandy and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the wine, stock, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for a further 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the tarragon and serve with green beans. Serves 4.


Patricia Scarpin said...

Donna's recipes are always winners. I saw this at one of her magazines and was very interested in cooking it - even more now, after seeing your post!

Anonymous said...

This was indeed a moist and delicious bird. Thanks again for hosting.

Bea said...

Delicious looking recipe. I do not remember seeing the recipe in DH magazine, but then there are so many. SO thank you for the reminder. Lovely styling!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photo and wonderful description of the market. I will definitely try this meal. The baked risotto sounded particularly delicious. Loved this post.

Katy said...

I've never been to Essex Market! I definitely have to check it out! Is it similar to Chelsea Market (which I love)? This recipe looks great -- the garlic next to the chicken looks incredible.

Anonymous said...

Your photo is great and the chicken dish sounds delicious. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank guys.
Bea: it was in a section about cooking with wine
Katy: totally different from Chelsea market (which I also love) - much lower key and more authentic, not wholesale, more open (fewer closed-door stalls), not as "fancy" - definitely worth checking out I adore it!

Anonymous said...

I was wondering what cook book of Donna Hay can I find this recipe, and the Riesling wine you used -- is it red or white?

Sabra said...

It was from one of her magazines - and called for white wine.

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