We have been living on reduced rations this week, not because it's January and everyone else is a) on a diet or b) broke, but because our renovation work has started and we are a) somewhat nervous about spiralling costs and b) our pantry supplies are in a series of cardboard boxes on the kitchen floor because the old pantry is kaput and the new one isn't built yet.
I knew this day was coming so I've been a bit slack on the shopping front lately. But despite having the world's smallest freezer we almost always have a frozen chicken in it, so even when it looks like there's nothing to eat we can treat ourselves to a roast chicken. But with no potatoes - and very few vegetables at all except what's in the garden - I decided to pot-roast the chicken instead. Discovering that we were all out of my all-time favourite pantry staple, the humble tin of whole peeled tomatoes, meant a bit of creative thinking was required. This delicious pot-roast was the result.
Pot-roast chicken and chickpeas
This may take an hour to cook, but it requires very little preparation and minimal hands-on time. You can add more liquid and shred the chicken before serving for a hearty, 'bowl food' presentation, or serve with rice and/or flatbreads to make it go further. You can always add more vegetables too. Either way, something green and crunchy is a good accompaniment.
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1-2 small dried chillies (or a chipotle pepper)
1 free-range organic chicken, patted dry with kitchen towel
a good splash of white wine
250ml good chicken stock
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas or other white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
a handful of parsley, leaves only, roughly chopped
50g spinach or kale, washed and roughly chopped
salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy, lidded pot (like a Le Creuset), then add the garlic and onions. Saute gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chillies and cook for a minute, then raise the heat to medium and add the whole chicken. Brown the chicken on all sides (as best you can) then pour in the wine and a splash of water. Let it bubble and sizzle away for a minute, then add the remaining ingredients - tuck them down the sides of the chicken. Put the lid on the pot and let simmer gently for 35-45 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure the liquid hasn't evaporated. There should be between 2-5cm of liquid in the bottom of the pot.
When the chicken is cooked, remove it to a warmed serving plate and cover with a tent of foil. Keep warm (the chicken, not you). Using a stick blender, whiz what's left in the pot to a chunky, rustic sort of sauce. Taste for seasoning (and add a little hot water if it is very thick), then pour some of the sauce over and around the chicken, then bring the rest to the table in a jug. Serves four to six. Enjoy!