Warning: This isn’t diet food.
This chicken is comfort food times ten. I was feeling a little under the weather when I got home from the office, and wanted something soothing, warm, salty, and rich. I don’t eat like this all the time. Honest.
So, you know that thing your grandmother used to do with a can of condensed cream soup and a cut up chicken? Picture that without the Campbell’s. This is just as easy—and homemade.
I made this tonight with four chicken leg quarters, but you could also use a whole, cut-up bird.
The chicken develops a rich flavor from stewing in a tightly covered pot with chicken stock, sweet onion, and crisp pieces of salt pork. By the time you’re ready to serve it, it’s moist and tender and falling off the bone. The broth is enriched with cream and then reduced into a velvety pasta sauce that’s laced with garlic and dotted with rosy bits of salty pork.
Mmm, fat and happy
When I have this for dinner, I usually go to bed right after I eat. I’m full. I’m happy. My eyes are almost guaranteed to be heavy-lidded. (Hey, sometimes you just need a creamy, carb-induced coma.)
Chicken Cooked in Cream
salt pork (see instructions below)
1 Tbls. butter
4 chicken leg quarters
1 sweet onion, diced
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbls. fresh garlic, mashed
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 Tbls. fresh parsley, minced
For the pasta
1/2 – 1 lb linguine
For this recipe, you’ll want a large, heavy-bottomed stew pot that has a tight-fitting lid. I use the big, cast-iron Le Creuset that I’ve had for years.
Start with a slab of salt pork
Slice off 3 or 4 pieces.
Dice them up into medium-sized chunks.
Add the pork chunks to a heavy-bottomed stew pot. Set it on the stove over medium-high heat.
Toss in about a tablespoon of butter. As it melts, stir to coat the pork. In a minute or two, your kitchen is going to smell amazing. (Think thick ham steaks frying at a really good 24-hour diner.)
Fry the salt pork until it starts to crisp up and turn brown. Don’t worry about getting it completely crunchy here, as it will have time to cook more when you add the chicken.
Get the chicken cooking
Rinse your chicken under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. (Get them good and dry. Any leftover water will start to spit when it hits the hot fat in your stew pot.)
With a wooden spoon, scoot the pieces of salt pork to the edges of your pot, so most of the bottom is free. (You want the chicken to make direct contact with the pot, not rest on top of the salt pork.)
Add the chicken pieces, skin side down, to the pot. Fry them on medium-high heat, until the skin starts to brown nicely. My pot is pretty crowded, so this took a few minutes.
When the skin is brown, flip the chicken pieces over, so the skin is facing up.
Toss in the chopped onion.
Add the chicken stock.
Give it a little stir to mix the onions and the stock around.
Raise the heat a little higher and bring the stock up to a simmer. When it starts to simmer, reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot. Let it cook, covered, for about 40 minutes.
Add the cream
After about 40 minutes, uncover your pot. If you like, skim off some of the fat from the broth. (How much fat you have will depend on how fatty your chicken and salt pork were.)
When you’re happy with the broth, drizzle in the cream. Add the garlic and the white pepper.
Give it a stir to combine the cream, garlic, and pepper with the broth.
Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the broth back up to a simmer. Leave your pot uncovered. Simmer for maybe 10 or 15 minutes to reduce the broth a little.
Cook the pasta while your chicken is simmering
Set a pot of water on the stove on high heat to get boiling. I used leftover pasta tonight, so I skipped that step for the purposes of this article.
When your water’s boiling, toss in a little salt along with the pasta. Boil it ’til it’s done to your liking. Drain well, cover, and set aside until your chicken is done.
(If you’re not going to eat right away, toss the pasta with a tiny bit of olive oil to keep it from glomming together.)
Finish it up
After about 15 minutes, remove the chicken to a platter and set it aside. (Tent some foil over it so it stays hot and moist.)
After you remove the chicken, keep the broth cooking at a good simmer. Stir occasionally.
Your goal is to reduce the sauce into something that will happily coat pasta.
After maybe 10 or 15 minutes (depending on how much juice your chicken gave off), your sauce should be nice and thick. Use your judgment here. If it looks too thin be a pasta sauce, reduce it a little more.
While the sauce is reducing, I like to pull the chicken meat off the bones. You can also serve the chicken in whole pieces. It’s totally up to you.
When the sauce is done to your liking, lower the heat to low and toss in your cooked linguine. Stir to coat the noodles. Add the parsley.
Stir to combine. Cook for a few minutes on low heat to reheat the noodles a little. Stir the pot to keep the noodles from sticking.
Serve and enjoy!