Roasted garlic ribollita

Ribollita is serious peasant food. It’s an Italian white bean soup that would likely be reheated a few days running, and probably have whatever veg came to hand thrown in over that period. It’s hale and warming enough for winter, but I also find the flavours light enough for a late summer supper. The thick croutons of toasted, garlicky oiled bread really help there.

Ribollita and sherry

You can find a good basic recipe in Veg Every Day  or actually Jamie’s Italy. But this is something of a bastard version that plays to my liking for rustic Mexican flavours. Roasted garlic, extra oregano, and a little allspice go in to punch that up, and it’s not shy of the tomato. I also figure it’d take a toasted ancho rehydrated in the stock, but I haven’t tried that this time round.

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Crispy citrus chicken thighs

Somewhere between splashing out on the huge Le Creuset frying pan, and having very little self control, I have become hooked on slowly frying boned and pepper-smothered chicken thighs. They’re simple and delicious. The problem is coming up with interesting things to put them with.

Kitchen Diaries has a wonderful recipe with cream, fennel, and a mustardy curry paste; I can’t recommend that enough. Recently, however, I’ve worked on of my other obsessions into the mix: butter beans. And cannellini beans; I’ll grudgingly admit they work better.

Chicken thighs, boned, skin on. Two each.
Butter beans and/or cannellini beans. A couple of cans.
Onions, two of them Leeks would also work
Juice from two lemons
Stock, vegetable or chicken, I’d guess around half a pint.
Flat leaf parsley, rough chopped
Garlic – lots, finely chopped. Seriously, about six cloves, maybe more.

Slowly fry the chicken thighs, skin-down initially, turning a couple of times. This can take about half an hour. You’re looking for golden, gooey, and crispy. They’ll give off a lot of fat, which you can usefully retain.

While that’s going on, roughly dice and slowly fry the onions until beginning to colour. Towards the end, add about half the garlic, and allow it to soften. The garlic should not colour or crisp up.

Add lemon juice and stock, incorporating any caramelised browning, and then add the beans and parsley. Stir this carefully to avoid breaking up the beans, and allow to warm through gently.

When the chicken is done, remove it from the pan, and toss the remaining garlic into the fat and delicious chickeny residue. Fry reasonably hot – this garlic should cook through and colour slightly. De glaze with stock, add the beans and chicken, allow all to heat through, and you’re done. The overall consistency shouldn’t be too wet, so you may need to let it gently simmer and reduce for a few minutes.

This can be made into more of a whole meal by adding courgettes and/or peppers with the initial frying onions, but I prefer to serve it with a tray of roasted vegetables or some seared aubergine slices.

I suspect it could be adapted to vegetarian tastes by substituting roasted parsnips for the chicken; but that would be rank cowardice.