Baked Chicken with Lemon and Garlic and Pilaf Rice
This classic French recipe is one of my favourite ways of cooking chicken. It calls for a lot of garlic, but once it is cooked it loses its pungency and turns deliciously sweet, perfectly complementing the fresh citrusy flavours. As for he the pilaf, I strongly recommend this oven-baked method of cooking rice; it is practically fool proof and the rice wonderfully moist and tasty.
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) olive oil
1 chicken, cut into pieces: breasts, thighs, drumsticks etc
125ml (4 1/2fl ozs/1/2 cup) white wine
20 garlic cloves, unpeeled
finely grated zest of 2 lemons and the juice of 1 lemon
1 large sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
300ml (10 fl oz/1 1/4 cups) chicken stock (see recipe)
For the pilaf rice
25g (1oz/1/4 stick) butter
1 small onion (about 125g/4 1/2 oz), peeled and chopped
300g (11oz) basmati rice
750ml (1 1/4 pints/scant 3 cups) chicken or vegetable stock (see recipe)
1 baguette, cut into slices 1cm (1/2 inch) thick
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 170°C / 325°F / Gas Mark 3.
Heat a large casserole or saucepan over a medium heat. Add the olive oil and chicken pieces, skin side down, and cook on both sides until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Pour off and discard any excess fat.
Add the wine and garlic cloves and boil for 2 minutes. Next add the lemon zest and juice, the herbs and the stock. Bring to the boil, cover and bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
While the chicken is cooking, toast the slices of baguette.
To cook the rice, melt the butter in a casserole or saucepan that is large enough to accommodate all the rice, add the onion and season. Cover and cook over a low heat for approximately 10 minutes or until the onion is soft. Add the rice and stir for about 2 minutes until it crackles, then add the stock and some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then transfer to the oven and cook for about 10 minutes or until the rice is just cooked so that it is slightly al dente and all the liquid absorbed. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
Serve the chicken with the rice in shallow bowls and sprinkled with chopped parsley. Let each person squeeze the soft garlic out of its skin and spread onto slices of toasted baguette, which can mop up the delicious chicken juices.