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Saturday, 5 April 2008

Nigella’s Chicken (WHB#127: parsley)

go directly to the recipe

summary: recipe for Nigella’s chicken with Fettucine (roast chicken, pine nuts, golden raisins, rosemary and parsley tossed in fresh egg noodles – based on Nigella Lawson’s Tagliatelle with Chicken from the Venetian Ghetto); information about WHB; (click on image to see larger views and more photos)

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB) #127
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum crispum)

Nigella's Chicken One of my absolute favourite pasta dishes is what we call “Nigella’s Chicken”, based on Nigella Lawson’s recipe for Tagliatelle with Chicken from the Venetian Ghetto* that we saw eons ago on “Nigella Bites” on the Food Network (Canada). Nigella’s Chicken is made with toasted pinenuts and raisins sautéed in olive oil, roast chicken, rosemary (if we have it) and fresh parsley (if we have it) all tossed with T’s fresh egg pasta cut into fettucine.

Inexplicably, we hadn’t had Nigella’s Chicken all winter long. We remedied that situation the other night. It was as wonderful as ever.

I’m still surprised that I love Nigella’s Chicken so much; the first time I had it was under duress. Major duress. Why? Because it calls for golden raisins. I loathe golden raisins. I’ve always loathed golden raisins. They’re fat and squishy. There’s a good reason that biscuits with golden raisins in them are called “squashed fly biscuits”.

Here’s how the conversation went on the day that T announced we would try this the first time:

me: But it has golden raisins. If you have to make it, please use Thompson raisins.

T: No. Nigella says to use golden raisins.

me: (gag) But I hate golden raisins.

T: Really? I didn’t know that.

me: (grimace) Yes you do.

T: But you’ll love them in this. (wheedling) Come on. Just try it. If you don’t like the raisins, you can pick them out and leave them on the side of your plate.

me: (choke) Won’t that be appetizing? A little heap of squashed flies on my plate. Pleeeeeeeeeease use Thompson raisins!

T: (sigh) Okay, let me think about it…

And he did think about. And made the dish. With golden raisins.

And here’s the thing. For some bizarre reason, golden raisins with roast chicken and fresh egg noodles are phenomenally good. There’s no squishiness. No squashed flyness about the raisins. No pervasive cloying sweet golden raisin taste. All they do is enhance the flavour of the toasted pinenuts and the chicken.

Nigella's Chicken It was an instant favourite. We had it many times, always loving it more every time we had it. Once, when we ran out of golden raisins, we tried it with Thompson raisins. I was certain that using Thompson raisins would escalate the dish onto a higher plane. Remarkably, golden raisins are better.

Yes, indeed, as far as I was/am concerned, golden raisins are aok. But only in Nigella’s Chicken… (I still loathe them in anything else).

Here’s how we make Nigella’s Chicken:

Nigella’s Chicken
based on Tagliatelle with Chicken from the Venetian Ghetto*

Once again, no measurements….

  • chicken legs
  • dried thyme, seasalt, pepper
  • fresh rosemary leaves, chopped (optional)
  • olive oil
  • pinenuts
  • golden raisins
  • fresh pasta, cut into fettucine
  • more seasalt and pepper, to taste
  • parsley, chopped

preparation

  1. Rub dried thyme, salt and pepper on the chicken legs (Lawson roasts a whole chicken). Be generous with the pepper and thyme but don’t add too much salt. Too much salt may keep the skin light coloured and flacid. Put the legs in a cast iron frying pan and roast at 350F until the skin is golden and crispy.
  2. Heat olive oil in another frying pan. Add pine nuts, golden raisins and fresh rosemary leaves. Sauté until the pinenuts are toasted. Add seasalt (or chicken stock powder) and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Cut freshly made pasta into fettucine.
  4. When the chicken is roasted, tear into bite size pieces. Include the skin! (Use the bones to make stock.) Put chicken and any juices from the pan into the pinenuts and raisins mixture and return it to medium heat. Stir in chopped parsley.
  5. Cook pasta til al dente in plenty of salted boiling water. It takes no time at all for the pasta to be cooked!
  6. Toss just cooked pasta in any juices still in the cast iron pan. Then toss the noodles in pinenuts mixture. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if needed.

Serve immediately with steamed sugar snap peas or green beans. Nigella says (and she’s right) “No cheese, please“. Red wine goes very well with this too.

Did I remember to say that I love Nigella’s Chicken? Did I hear you say that you don’t like raisins with chicken, especially golden raisins? You’re wrong.

Make Nigella’s Chicken and admit it. Golden raisins ARE good after all.

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB) #127
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum crispum)

weekend herb blogging - © kalyns kitchen

parsley What is it that is so good about parsley?

To many people, it seems so innocuous and plain. Relegated to be used as a decorative garnish on so many restaurant plates, to be admired for its greenery and then pushed aside and discarded.

But taste it!! It lends a freshness to so many dishes. On its own, it cleanses the palate. In a dish, it completes and rounds the flavour – especially in Nigella’s Chicken. Nigella’s Chicken is very good without parsley. But with it, it’s sublime.

Many people prefer Italian flat-leaf parsley, saying that its flavour is more intense. We have not noticed much difference in flavour between the two kinds, yet both of us prefer curly leaf parsley. (Frankly, I think it’s prettier.)

Curly leaf parsley makes for a beautiful border around a flower bed. I saw this at a horticultural display. It really was stunningly beautiful around a bed of white impatiens. If we had a sunny rather than shady garden, I would do this. How wonderful would that be to stroll through the garden cutting flowers and parsley to adorn the table?

I confess that in the past few years, I’ve not been overly successful with keeping parsley going in my own garden but that is probably because I have a black thumb. (Or more likely, it is because of our distinct lack of sun.) Happily, parsley is one of the few herbs that does not seem to lose intensity if it is grown in a hothouse, so storebought parsley is almost as good as garden grown parsley.

Some years ago, my sister gave me a lovely illustrated book, Little Herb Gardens: Simple Secrets for Glorious Gardens – Indoors and Out by Georgeanne Brennan and Mimi Luebbermann. It is filled with useful information on how just about anyone can have their own little herb garden. One of my absolute favourite pages is the one about making an instant herb garden:

The simplest herb garden of all is temporary and ephemeral, yet it supplies its owner with daily fresh herbs for cooking and fills the kitchen with the scent of faraway places. […] Parsley, tarragon, basil and dill bring the comforting smell of the damp earth on the edges of meadows and along stream sides.

No matter what herbs you choose for your cut garden, select only fresh, healthy-looking ones. […] Purchase these herbs precut in the produce department […] and put each bunch of herbs in its own glass, lining up the glasses on your windowsill to make a pleasing arrangement. […] Change the water daily. Discard any decaying leaves.

And this is exactly what we do with storebought herbs: wash them well, trim the bottoms off the stems and put them into glasses, coffee cups, or sugar bowls (without the sugar :lalala:).

Read more about parsley:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
WHB is at home this week, being hosted by its founder, Kalyn (Kalyn’s Kitchen). The deadline for entering WHB#125 is Sunday 6 April 2008 at 15:00, Utah time (GMT-7). For complete details on how to participate in Weekend Herb Blogging, please see the following:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


*The recipe for Tagliatelle with Chicken from the Venetian Ghetto used to be housed on www.stylenetwork.com along with other recipes from “Nigella Bites”. Sadly, neither Lawson’s show nor this fabulous recipe is in stylenetwork’s archives any longer. However, you may be able to see it by plugging http://www.stylenetwork.com/Shows/Nigella/Recipes/tagliatelle.html into the Wayback Machine search window of the Internet Archive. (The recipe is also in How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food by Nigella Lawson.)

 

  1. Comment by Kalyn — 5 April 2008 @ 11:57 EST

    Very funny about the golden raisins. I have to admit, I’ve never had any fondness for them either, although it never was as intense as your pre-Nigella raisin feelings! Parsley is a different story. I love parsley, and I agree, the curly type is prettier (easier to chop, and better tasting if you ask me!) I have both in my garden, but I prefer the curly for quite a few things. This does sound delicious, especially with the freshly made pasta!

  2. Comment by Jj — 6 April 2008 @ 14:18 EST

    LOL! Never thought of a raisin as a squashed fly before, but now I see the point! I’ll never look at a raisin the same again. ;)

  3. Comment by Laurie Constantino — 7 April 2008 @ 02:29 EST

    Count me as another non-fan of golden raisins. I used them in something this year for the first time and found them surprisingly good. This recipe sounds perfect for us – all really good flavors.

  4. Comment by ejm — 7 April 2008 @ 09:53 EST

    It really is a fantastic dish. I’m glad to hear I’m not alone in my opinion of curly vs flat-leaf parsley, Kalyn. Until I typed out the recipe, I had forgotten that the original recipe calls for fresh rosemary. That’s a great addition as well and as soon as summer arrives and I can bring our pathetic little rosemary plant out of the basement where it is barely surviving the winter, we’ll add rosemary to Nigella’s Chicken too.

    Jj, sorry to have implanted the squashed fly image in your mind. I hope it doesn’t stop you from trying Nigella’s Chicken!

    Laurie, what did you use golden raisins in? I can’t really imagine them working well in anything else. (I’m still quite adamant that golden raisins are particularly loathesome in anything but Nigella’s Chicken. :lalala:)

    -Elizabeth

  5. Comment by katie — 7 April 2008 @ 15:32 EST

    I have a chive border along one path in my herb garden. Maybe I’ll add some curly parsley further on….
    As to the raisins, I’ll happily eat a handful of any color… but I don’t like them in anything – not cookies, biscuits, breads… and probably not pasta. But I’m thinking about this one… maybe, just a few…

    edit 16:52 EDT: No raisins in cookies, biscuits or breads? Not even cinnamon buns? Do try a few raisins in the pasta, Katie! They’re really really good. (I’m jealous jealous jealous… I have one lone spindly chive clump (sort of) in my herb garden. At least I think I do. One never knows what might have happened over the winter.) -Elizabeth

  6. Comment by Ruth — 16 March 2010 @ 20:09 EST

    Great post and if Nigella said golden raisins, they must be correct. I love everything she does. Next time you make it, please share with Presto Pasta Nights…the gang would love it.

    edit 17 March 2010 at 09:12 EDT: Ha! We just had it again last night, Ruth. And we used Thompson raisins because we didn’t have any golden raisins on hand. It was JUST as wonderful. (We love Nigella’s chicken!) I even took photos but they’re still in the camera. If they turned out, I will do as you say and re-post for PPN. Or even if they didn’t turn out…. :-) -Elizabeth

 

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