The weather has been simply glorious in New York, hasn’t it? Especially if you are a plant: misty, rainy mornings, hot, sunny afternoons, cool, crisp evenings. It’s like garden Nirvana out there, and even this black thumb can’t keep the plants on the back deck from overflowing with joy.
It’s a perfect time, then, to try out this oddbin little recipe from Jamie Oliver: a whole chicken, poached in water flavored with herbs, vegetables, and the chicken itself. Nothing more nor less. The markets are overflowing with the first crunchy veg of the season right now: knobby orange baby carrots, bright pink young radishes, tender green peas, sweet baby turnips. You’ll find a lovely selection if you hit up a farmer’s market or two. The recipe is simplicity itself: the hardest part is scrubbing all of those baby vegetables. But it’s simple and flavorful and surprisingly satisfying for a meal with virtually no fat.
There’s a lot of room for interpretation in the veg department: I made some changes from Chef Oliver’s original, and I’m sure, if you decide to try this, you’ll make some changes, too. It’s a great recipe for gardeners, as you can simply pluck a handful here, a handful there, of whatever is looking great in the garden. For the black thumbs among us, I’d say that variety is key: pick up a little bit of everything that looks young and fresh and gorgeous at the market. Add harder vegetables first, softer veg or greens at the very end. With this type of bounty, it’s hard to go wrong, no?
Adapted (slightly) from Spring Poached Chicken by Jamie Oliver
Spring Poached Chicken & Vegetables
- one 4-lb roaster chicken
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- 1 small handful fresh herbs (I used mint, thyme, oregano)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 handfuls new potatoes
- about 12 baby carrots
- 6 baby radishes
- 6 baby turnips
- 1 small fennel bulb, sliced (reserve some fronds for garnish)
- 3 green onions, crisp stalks only, cut to 2-inch segments
- 3 baby bok choi, quartered lengthwise
- 2 handfuls snow peas
- about 1 quart spring greens (I used pea shoots & purslane)
- freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil, for serving
- Scrub or wash all of the vegetables well, trimming root and stem ends as needed. Stuff the chicken cavity with the bay leaves and handful of fresh herbs, plus a little salt & pepper. In a snug pot, deep enough to cover the chicken with water, add the chicken, water, potatoes and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
- Add carrots, radishes, turnips, fennel and green onion. Simmer, covered, for another 20 – 30 minutes, or until the leg pulls easily away from the body of the chicken and the meat is tender and cooked through. Remove the chicken to a large bowl. Add bok choi, snow peas and greens. Cover and remove from heat.
- Pull chicken meat from the bird. Taste the broth and adjust seasonings. With tongs or a slotted spoon, dish up vegetables, chicken meat, and a ladle or two of broth. Garnish with fennel fronds and a drizzle of good olive oil.
Serves 6 – 8.
- As noted above, vegetable options are numerous. Focus on variety and what looks best in the garden or market.
Refrigerated, for up to 5 days.