Many years ago a friend of mine gave me a cookbook called Cooking at the Merchant House. At the time, it was too sophisticated for my level of cooking, and frankly required ingredients beyond my budget (ah the joys of student life). However, I recently rediscovered this cookbook and the wonderful recipes it contains. One of the first recipes I tried was for a Bourride of Chicken. Not something I’d ever eaten before, let alone tried to cook. It is fully acknowledged in the cookbook that this is a quick version of a more involved traditional recipe. I made a few adaptations as I went along on the basis of learning from other recipes and was quite happy with the resulting meal. Still, I had some ideas about variations that could enhance the final product. This is the recipe I came up with.
500g of chicken thighs and legs
1 red pepper
1/2 a red chilli, deseeded
1 shallot, peeled
350-400g of new potatoes (peeling optional)
1 heaped teaspoon of saffron
1 pinch of cumin
6 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
2 egg yolks
50ml of olive oil
50ml of sunflower oil
Salt, pepper and paprika to taste
1 chicken breasts, diced
2-3 small squid (enough to be 1:1 with the chicken), sliced
2 leeks, chunkily sliced.
1 bulb of fennel, sliced
1. Roughly chop half of the red pepper and fry with the chicken thighs and drumsticks and the shallot in a large saucepan until all elements are lightly browned.
2. Add the potato, saffron and cumin, then add enough water to cover all ingredients. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and cover and allow to simmer until chicken and potatoes are cooked through. This should take about half an hour, but do check and allow to cook longer if needed.
3. Meanwhile, make the aïoli that will flavour the base of the sauce. Crush the garlic and whisk into the mustard, vinegar, and egg yolks. Gradually whisk in the oil, adding a few drops at a time. Don’t rush this, it needs to be done slowly for the consistency to be right.
4. When the chicken and potatoes are cooked remove these elements from the pot. Bring to the boil and reduce the remaining liquid by about a quarter.
5. Remove meat from bones. Return the flesh to the pot and blend all ingredients until smooth. Gradually blend in the aïoli, adding and blending a little bit at a time to avoid cooking the egg before it’s integrated into the sauce. Season to taste and keep warm. As there’s no stock in this dish you are likely to need a good helping of salt to make sure there is sufficient depth of flavour.
6. Slice the remaining half of red pepper. Pan fry with chicken, fennel, leeks and squid. It may be easier to fry each component separately as cooking times vary considerably for the different ingredients.
7. Either throw pan fried ingredients in a pot and mix or if you want it to look pretty, pour some sauce on plates and arrange the other ingredients attractively on top.
As you can see, I went for the mix in the pot approach. If the potatoes are peeled they will turn a gorgeous golden colour as they cook in the saffron. However, there’s a lot of nutrition in potato skin, so it’s up to you what’s more important.