For me Country Chicken is synonymous with road trips in Canada. Paul and I were on the last 2 hours of our 12 hour drive back to Vancouver from Edmonton (that’s basically next door on the 5000 mile long trans Canada highway) when we stopped in Hope, B.C. at one of Canada’s chain restaurants called Home Restaurant. Think Little Chef meets an old Harvester. The restaurant was filled with a sense of transient weariness rather than joviality as most of the diners were as knackered as we were. I wasn’t expecting anything special, just sustenance to drive the final stretch, so I was delighted to be served a bowl of tender chicken and simple vegetables piled on top of mashed potato, smothered in a cream chicken gravy.
Serves 2 Adults and 2 Kids
6 chicken thighs
3 large carrots
200g green beans
3-4 echalion shallots or 1 large onion
1 tsp cornflour
500ml chicken stock
125ml double cream
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
- Pre-heat the oven to 195° (175° fan). Put the olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet on a medium high heat. Dry the skin of the chicken with kitchen roll then sprinkle with salt. Place the chicken in the pan, skin side down. Do this in batches so that the pan isn’t overcrowded. If there’s too much chicken in the pan it won’t crisp up. Once the skin is crispy (about 4-6 minutes in the pan) place the chicken, flesh side down, on a plate.
- Peel the shallots and clean the carrots. Cut the shallots lengthways in half and chop the carrots into batons. Add the shallots and carrots to the pan (turn the heat down on the pan slightly, you don’t want the shallots to burn).
- Sprinkle over the cornflour and stir until it has been absorbed by the fat. Gradually add the stock while stirring then squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Bring to the boil for two minutes.
- Turn the heat off under the pan and add the thyme and trimmed green beans. Slowly pour in the cream and stir to combine then place the chicken on top of the sauce so that the skin is exposed and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. (If you want to pour the sauce into a casserole dish before adding the chicken and baking you can.)
- Whilst the chicken is baking peel 1kg of potatoes then chop into quarters. Place into a large pot of cold, salted water then bring to a gentle boil for 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes then place back on a low heat, add 40g of butter 4 roasted garlic bulbs and 250ml of milk. Mash until smooth.
- Dish up the mash into bowls then top with chicken and spoon the vegetables and gravy around the mash.