Well the temperatures continue to soar into the mid 30s here and salad and gazpacho is still featuring heavily on the dining table, but I thought I’d ring the changes a little and actually cook something!
This is a recipe that I found in a little book of Provencale cooking while I was down in the South at a lovely little village called ‘Saint-Paul Vence’ which is probably the most picturesque place that I have ever been too. I bought the book for a friend who was studying food and culture at the Sorbonne and who was at Paris looking after Willow the cat………I liked it so much that I begged Monsieur le Frog to drive back up to the village the next day to buy a copy for myself (such a hardship as you will see from the photos………)
Dating from the early 15th century and occupying a spectacular vantage point high above the ‘cape d’Antibes’ affording magnificent views of both the Mediterranean and the Massif d’Estrel, Saint Paul de Vence is actually ranked as the third most visited place in France after Mount Saiant-Michel and le Chateau de Versailles, but I found this hard to believe as there is an air of tranquillity there and a reflection of normal everyday life that the other two ‘attractions’ lack (in fact I found the Citadel at Carcassonne much more crowded and touristy)
Being a place of such beauty it has naturally attracted its fair share of artists and writers, Jacques Prevert, Marc Chagall and Raoul Duffy all set up residence here.
As always, this is a simple dish that looks after itself and doesn’t mind staying a bit longer in the oven while the hostess takes an apero with guests.
I usually serve it with my ‘haricots verts a la provencale’ and maybe a crusty baguette to mop up that wonderful tangy tomato sauce. It is great washed down with a rustic red wine from the region.
1 small farmers chicken cut into 8 portions (your butcher will do this giving 2 wing, 2 small thigh and 4 breast portions, the flavour is much better and the dish much more tender if dark meat on the bone is used, rather than just bland breast meat, the recipe calls for skin on, but if you are watching your weight then remove the skin.)
12 black olives (again with the stones gives more flavour and juiciness)
2 large plum tomatoes roughly chopped
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic (1 gousse d’ail) crushed
A sprig of tarragon* (1 branche d’estragon)
1 glass of white wine
A good glug of olive oil
A small glug of Tarragon vinegar (Optional)
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
A bay leaf (feuille de Laurier)
* If you do not like the slightly aniseed taste of tarragon, then use thyme
Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan and brown the chicken on all sides to seal in the juices.
Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic and tarragon, mix well and cook for a further 2-3 minutes to soften.
Add the vinegar then the wine and the olives and bay leaf, cover and simmer gently for around 40 minutes, until the chicken is tender and falls from the bone (my family do not like to see chicken bones on their plate, so I remove the meat from the bone at this stage and return to the dish!)
Serve as suggested with ‘Haricots verts Provencale’ and some fresh crusty baguette.
What could be simpler?