Extreme chicken casserole with added chickeniness.

Chicken Casserole (16 of 17)It looks just like any ordinary chicken casserole, does it not? But this casserole has an added ingredient that makes it extremely chickeney. In fact, it’s fair to say this is the most chickeney chicken casserole since the first chicken escaped from the egg. And, yes, the egg came first.

A few months ago, my friend Matt (whom I have not seen in a while), suggested that I should do a chicken casserole here on the blog. I thought it was a nice idea but I needed a little something extra. I mean, a chicken casserole is a chicken casserole is a chicken casserole. Yes it is but not when we go extreme on the chickeniness. My ingredients list will give you some clue as to what I did. But, the secret ingredient is not there.

You might think things can't get much more chickeny than this. They can.

You might think things can’t get much more chickeny than this. They can.

Ingredients

  • A chicken (pretty chickeney flavour)
  • 8 chicken thighs (very chickeney flavour)
  • 1 litre of very good home-made chicken stock (getting there on the flavour front)
  • A nice piece of pancetta (not chickeney at all)
  • 3 onions
  • 3 carrots
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • A good handful of parsley
  • Flour for dusting
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • The secret ingredient (very, very chickeney)

First thing to do is to chop the chicken into bite sized pieces. I like mine to be big bites.

Chicken chopped. Thighs trimmed and all ready to add their flavour to proceedings.

Chicken chopped. Thighs trimmed and all ready to add their flavour to proceedings.

Next, slice the pancetta into nice small pieces. Not too small, this dish needs to be rusticated (I am a city slicker myself so rustication is something I have to work at.)

Pretty rustic looking, I am certain you will agree.

Pretty rustic looking, I am certain you will agree.

Fry the pancetta in the bottom of a casserole dish. You people Stateside call it a Dutch Oven, for some strange reason.

The pancetta releases some delicious fat. We intend that to brown the chicken.

The pancetta releases some delicious fat. We intend that to brown the chicken.

Remove the pancetta when it is just about cooked and has released plenty of fat. Dust the chicken in seasoned flour.

The chicken needs a light dusting in flour before being fried in the pancetta fat.

The chicken needs a light dusting in flour before being fried in the pancetta fat.

Fry the chicken in the casserole until it achieves a nice light golden colour.

It looks good enough to eat. Don't eat it yet. It is only average chickeney at this stage.

It looks good enough to eat. Don’t eat it yet. It is only average chickeney at this stage.

While the chicken is frying, chop up the carrots, onions, celery and garlic. You want the onions, celery and carrots pretty small but not so small that people get the impression you are “going all fancy”.

Cut them about this small. That's about rustic size.

Cut them about this small. That’s about rustic size.

Good country practice dictates that one can cut the garlic smaller than the vegetables.

Cut the garlic small. Again, not too small. Think country.

Cut the garlic small. Again, not too small. Think country.

When the chicken is browned nicely, stack it all on a plate and take a picture.

Totally gratuitous browned chicken on a plate shot. Mmmmm.

Totally gratuitous browned chicken on a plate shot. Mmmmm.

Add the onions to the casserole and sweat them over a moderate heat. Stir them to be sure they remove any golden bits of flour that may have stuck to the casserole.

Toss in the onions. They are essential to any casserole.

Toss in the onions. They are essential to any casserole.

When you have adjusted the ISO of your camera from 100 to 800, set the focus and add the carrots.

The higher ISO allows one capture the action. God bless digital photography.

The higher ISO allows one capture the action. God bless digital photography.

Stir these around a bit and add the celery.

Celery, carrot and onion are the holy trinity of any Italian soup or stew. They work here too!

Celery, carrot and onion are the holy trinity of any Italian soup or stew. They work here too!

Sweat these down until soft and add back the fried chicken. It will be pretty chickeney at this stage.

Adding back the chicken. This done to cries of "Can we not just taste the crispy skin?"

Adding back the chicken. This done to cries of “Can we not just taste the crispy skin?”

Throw the pancetta back in to add some saltiness and “Oh Mammy” (umami)  flavour. Next we add the very chickeney chicken stock.

The chickenest chicken stock in the world (almost) adds great chicken flavour.

The chickenest chicken stock in the world (almost) adds great chicken flavour.

Side note on chicken stock: You just have to make this at home. One chicken carcass (after chinese boiling the chicken) returns us one litre of jelly consistency chicken stock. It is fantastic and has a real flavour punch.

Flavour punch or not, it is not the secret ingredient. Cover the casserole and place it in a 200º C oven for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and add the secret ingredient. Let it cook for a further 15 minutes uncovered. This allows the casserole to thicken and flavours of chicken to intensify that little bit more. Just before serving, add the chopped parsley and stir.

“So, what’s the secret ingredient?” I hear you wonder. It is intensely concentrated chicken stock. Having done this with beef stock (see the post here), we decided the same would work with chicken. We reduced the usual 1 litre of great chicken stock to less than a quarter litre and filled an ice-cube tray with this intensely flavourful chicken deliciousness.

Chicken stock doesn't get any chickenier than this.

Chicken stock doesn’t get any chickenier than this.

Just one of these ice-cube sized flavour bombs adds a real strength to the chicken flavour and brings this humble rustic rooster out of the hen-house, giving me something to really crow about. Give it a go. You won’t taste anything more chickeney.

Guaranteed cock-a-doodle-doo chickeniness. Well worth the effort.

Guaranteed cock-a-doodle-doo chickeniness. Well worth the effort.

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Latest comments
  • That looks great- I must give the home made jelly stock cubes a go!

    • Hi Emma,
      Do that. They are a great standby and can really raise the hen house roof when it comes to flavour.

  • Not only does this look super chickeny and delicious but I am well jealous that you know how to work the ISO camera whatsits to such good effect.

    • Trust me, a lot of trial and error went into that. A lot!

  • Beef Bombs works. But Chicken Bombs…? A bit stilted. You need a nice catchy name for these tiny cubes of concentrated chickenyness. How about Chickabombs? Cockadoodles? Alright, I’ll stop being silly and go and haul out a carton of plebian chicken stock in the hope of turning it into something fabulous.

    • I’d go for Chickadoodles. I can see the copy now… Chikadoodles do it for you, a doodle do, a doodle doooooo (fade under farmyard SFX and out).

      • Snigger… once an ad man, always an ad man…

    • I’d say we call them “Boom-Chicka-Booms.” Or “Boom-Chicka-Bombs?”

      When I make stock, I often boil it down from 8-9 cups to 1 cup, then stir in 2 Tbsp. of gelatin, let it set, slice into cubes, and freeze. It’s like homemade cup-a-soup.

      • Thanks for visiting. Great plan for making sliceable stock. This stock turns to a nice thick jelly all on its own. Have a look above in the comments for method. One gets a great tasting chicken into the bargain.

  • Flavour bombs that leave extra space in your freezer – what’s not to love?

    • Thanks Linda,
      I have pretty well used up all my chicken stock. I had been in trouble with the Wife for excess stocking. A couple of tasty risottos and we are bereft of stock. A chicken boils in ginger water as I type….

      • Yes, you mentioned Chinese chicken – how do you do it?

        • Really simple. Add 8 or so slices of ginger to a big pot of water. Bring it to the boil and place the whole chicken in. Bring it back to a boil and leave it for 10 minutes. Reduce it to a simmer. Leave it do that for 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it cool down in the liquid. We usually do the boiling of an evening and leave it in the pot overnight. Take the chicken out and then do the therapeutic (yucky) bit of removing the skin and bones from the meat. Put everything that you don’t want to eat back in the pot as the basis of stock making. Make the stock by adding a bay leaf, carrot or two, onion and some peppercorns and simmering for a couple of hours, then reduce.

          The chicken is really light and has a delicious flavour. Do please try it. Excellent with soy sauce, some grated ginger and spring onions in olive oil and some chili. Serve with rice or even chips from the chipper. Mmmmmm…

  • Bright orange carrot suspended forever ‘twixt board and dish….lovely shot and thanks for the ISO tip. 🙂

    • Thanks. And thanks for noticing that particular shot. I was pretty pleased with it.

  • Love your work Conor. Always good for a chuckle, some nice photos and a cracking recipe!

  • Stock in a box! What will they think of next? Especially since it is the easiest thing in the world. I bag and freeze the bones from roast chicken and when I have a 2nd one also buy a pound of feet and a couple of backs. That yields a quart (litre to you) of 2X stock in the freezer.

    • Nothing as good as homemade stock Flori.

  • That could be the chefs mantra: “Never be afraid to be more chickeny”.
    Super (or souper) stuff, as ever, Conor.

    • Thanks Adam, Nobody ever got in trouble for making things more chickeny, or is that chickeney?

  • Flavour Bomb Stock – that’s got a nice marketing ring to it…

    • Yes, we could go into business. There is a gap in the market but, I suspect that there is no market in the gap, as the gurus say.

  • They’re like little bouillon cubes.
    This reminds me that I have some chicken stock and beef broth I need to freeze before it goes bad…

    • Freeze it now. Otherwise, mix them together and give them to a friend as lamb stock.

  • Mmm… Looks so good. When cooking the chicken with the bones in it adds so much flavor!

    • No question about it. It also lets me use my big cleaver which is fun too.

  • Very nice Conor. There can be only one comment for this epitome of chickiness: cluck cluck cluck!

    • Well Cock a Doodle Doo, Stefan.
      Thanks,
      C

  • They are called dutch ovens because the dutch, when settling stateside, brought their cast iron pots over with them. In the 1700’s they were better made than the English (gasp!) counterparts and they stuck round and made a name for themselves. Gradually they lost their legs and became what we know as casserole dishes but the name stuck. This looks like a wonderful dinner. 🙂

    • Thanks for that. Mine is French. Le Creuset, I think them to be the best available. God knows, they cost enough but will last a lifetime.

      • We like Le Creuset as well. But yes, a small loan is sometimes required! 🙂

  • Extreme chickeniness indeed!! Seriously, I love it. You make this in your casserole dish and I’ll bring the dessert. (By the way, I had a hard time typing casserole dish as I, being a silly American, call it a Dutch oven. Although, to complicate things further, it’s from Le Creuset and then call them French ovens, since they’re French. Now my head hurts. And I’m hungry.)

    • It took some Dutch courage to come up with that comment Tommy. Maybe that’s why the head hurts…

  • Lovely recipe, Conor – certainly sounds very chickeny…

  • Who laid the egg? Unless one believes in Creation rather than Evolution 😀 ?

  • Love this. Was already sold with the first three ingredients of your recipe then I saw pancetta! Doesn’t get better than this Conor. A nice Italian Soffritto, then BAM…chicken, pancetta and potatoes. Delicious!

    • Thanks. The Italian base is the basis of so many good stews or soups.

  • Delightful casserole with lots of chicken goodness there, Conor. Lots of slicing, chopping, and pouring shots, too. We’ve been buried so glad to see you’re keeping up your end of things. I can’t decide if I like the celery or carrot shot the best. Tough call. As for the Dutch Oven or casserole dish, some of us Statesiders call it a cocotte. My preference is Staub over Le Creuset and I own both but that’s just me. As for the “secret ingredient” it’s a “nuveau chicken demi-glace,” something Julia Child would have called a chicken “semi demi-glace.” 🙂 Personally, I don’t care what anyone calls it. I call it mighty fine eating.

    • Thanks Richard. Glad to see you are still around. I was worried there for a while(for the hen). I look forward to your return to posting when things calm down.
      Best,
      Conor

  • That chicken casserole is not ordinary at all!

    • Chickenordinary, if there ever could be such a word.

  • The Chicken Bombs (TM) – coming to a frozen isle near you – sure beat the ‘jelly bombs’ M P White peddles. I’m actually still using up organic free range turkey stock made from the beast I bought at Xmas. I know, get me. Great read as ever Connor and a very nice dish.

    • Thanks Phil, the MPW stuff is a strange form of jellied salt. The turkey stock is a great idea as one can get so much of it. That is also the downside.

  • I love that idea! I had a feeling I knew what your chickeny chicken ingredient was because I do the same thing! Great addition of umami. No clue why we call it a dutch oven and I love your instruction to adjust the ISO, lol. This is such a delicious looking chicken soup. YUM.

    • Thanks Amanda. We had fun doing it, and eating it.

  • Chickeney indeed!

  • Love that chickeny flavour of your chicken casserole. The food looks delish per usual.

    As for digital photography, we are blessed indeed! Though I’m a mobile photography freak, I’ve recently begun playing with digital lenses etc for iPhone. Big fun!

  • Ahhh there you are! I missed seeing this chickeny post with the extreme chicken surprise! I will have to try making those Chick-a-Booms, Chickity-Bombs, or whatever the heck you call them! 🙂 As usual, I do enjoy reading your posts.

  • Another amazing dish packed with flavor Conor! This one is a must do with the non shellfish, lamb eating husband! Oh, and regarding the name of the pot being called a dutch oven here in the US, a bit of pot history….

    http://www.chuckwagonsupply.com/history.htm

    Have a good one, and my best to you! ^..^ B

  • Does it have any added chicken inside;-) Thumbs up!

  • How can I make your dish if I don’t know the secret ingredient? 🙂 Looks cock-a-doodle-do-licious! 🙂

  • Wow, such a comforting dish!!!
    ps; i lovin your throwing veggies pictorial, what kind of setting do you used to capturing that Connor???

    • Hi Dedy, Fixed 50mm lens. F800. 2.5. Manual zoom (set before taking the shot).

  • Had to read your post right through, to get to the secret ingredient Which I’m sure was the master plan. Nice recipe but you’ll have to explain what Chinese boiling is.

    • My apologies for not explaining that one. It appeared in a post a couple of years ago. Here’s the link http://wp.me/p1NUXa-73. Scroll down to “Chinese Boiled Chicken with Complex Sichuan Sauce”. There are some delicious recipes in that post too. I mist separate them out and repost them.
      Thanks for the guidance,
      Conor

    • Excellent Folri. The feet are a great idea. I was talking to an Irish chicken producer who tells me most go from here to China. That’s a long walk….

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