Sunday, November 27, 2005

Chicken with Egg and Lemon Sauce

My darling brother Daniel has been feeling a bit poorly lately. Well, luckily he’s better today, but the period of Wednesday through Friday was rough on him. The doctor said that he had some sort of stomach viral infection thingy. Thus he was obviously not eating very much at all, except for boring stuff like plain rice congee and… er… more plain rice congee.

For dinner on Friday night, I wanted to make something that was gentle enough for him to handle, but tasty enough for the rest of us to eat without wanting to hang ourselves.

177. Chicken with egg and lemon sauce

This recipe is a suggestion, hidden right at the end of the Dinner chapter, and, Nigella writes, is very special to her.

“The last suggestion in this section is less a recipe than, for me, a way of life: boiled chicken with rice and egg and lemon sauce. This is the food of my childhood, a taste that roots me in my past. When my brother, Dominic, and Rosa got married, this is what he asked me and my sisters to cook him the night before. For us, this is the most significant kitchen supper.”

To make it, you boil a boiling chicken in water with some aromatic vegetables until the chicken's almost cooked, then remove the vegetables and add some fresh ones, and keep simmering until everything is cooked and tender.

Ingredients – I asked my Dad to get the chicken, he asked the person at the poultry shop for a boiling chicken. She gave him a scragglier looking chicken than normal, but it wasn’t a proper scary boiling fowl (i.e. scrawny and ugly, head, beak and feet all still attached). So I took Nigella’s advice of adding a stock cube to the boiling water, as normal chickens are not nearly as flavoursome as boiling fowls.

After one and a half hours of simmering, I fished out the cooked vegetables and added some fresh batons of leeks and carrots. At this time I also put the rice cooker on and made the sauce. The sauce is kinda like a cross between hollandaise, and the avgolemono from Nigella’s lemon chicken, but a lot tastier. You need a double boiler and a mini-whisk to make it, but it’s not as hard or fiddly as that implies. Simply whisk up 2 egg yolks with saffron and pepper, and then slowly beat in cubes of softened butter until thick and yellow (Nigella doesn’t specify quantities, but I ended up using about 70 grams), then add a spoonful of stock from the chicken pot and whisk that in with a squeeze of lemon.

Soup and sauce


Chicken - check out the golden chicken broth. You just know it's got to be good for you!

I absolutely loved this dish! I loved the mellow golden colour and chickeney flavour of the broth, the uber-tender chicken meat, the gentle whiteness of the whole ensemble, the way the rice soaks up the broth, the rich-but-not-too-rich eggy lemon sauce!

Daniel: patting his stomach... I'm not going to be able to eat too much, I'm still sick.
Me: This is good for you, just drink the soup, chicken soup is good when you're sick.
Daniel: Ok. Thanks for making this, it's very thoughtful.

He ended up eating everything on his plate, rice, soup, chicken, vegetables, but no sauce. (I wouldn't let him, as I'm sure it would have wreaked havoc on his system). And despite him saying he wasn't going to be able to eat a lot, he had seconds, and today is back at work. It's the chicken soup that made him better, not the antacids and drugs. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


domesticgoddess said...

that looks really good, and that sauce, wow! i bet it would go with so many other dishes....

hope dan's feeling better. how can he not be, with you in jewish mamma mode to the rescue :)

Ilana said...

you are a wonderful and thoughtful sister. ddaniel is one lucky bro.
i have an unbelievably painful tummy ache now. lying on my belly typing with one hand, but that story has made me feel a bit better :)