Cooking has never been an interest of mine; I tend to eat pretty simply on my own, opting for Whole Foods salad bars or a quick and easy rice meal at home. Although I enjoy baking and tend to do that fairly often, the thrill of cooking has always eluded me.
However, there’s only so much dining out and rice meals a girl can take and so last year I started looking into simple cookbooks. Cookbooks that would appeal to my (simple) taste buds, my laziness, my desire to not own kitchen appliances and the fact I like to eat local, organic and seasonally. Not to mention that the recipes couldn’t be expensive since I was just cooking for one and didn’t want to spend $20 a meal.
I ended up with a nice collection of cook books but I confess that out of all those books, I tend to go back to just one and one recipe: Slow Cooking Chicken Legs from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.
It is my go to fall/winter dish for a myriad of reasons such as:
- it’s very inexpensive. By using chicken legs, canned tomatoes and just a handful of other basic ingredients, I can get 4 meals out of it all for under $10.
- it’s ridiculous easy to make and I can do it all in one pot (I use a Staub Elite Enameled Cast Iron 5qt. French Oven which I love).
- it’s really not time consuming even though the entire cooking time is about an hour. While the legs are cooking, I chop the onions. While the onions are cooking, I chop the garlic. While the garlic is cooking, I open the can of tomatoes and chicken broth. Easy.
- it’s incredibly tasty, even as left overs.
The whole process, I find, is relaxing. It’s a good Sunday night dish to cook and a better Monday lunch. When it’s cold outside, this nicely steams up your kitchen windows and makes your flat smell heavenly – like you’re a bona fide cook. Even if it’s the simplest meal ever.
Chicken Legs Braised with Tomatoes, Onions and Garlic
Season, the day before if possible:
4 chicken legs
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Heat a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add:
2 tablespoons olive oil
Place the chicken legs into the pan skin side down and cook until crisp and brown, about 12 minutes. Turn and cook for another 4 minutes. Remove the chicken and add:
2 onions, slicked thick (or diced large)
Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add and cook for 2 minutes:
4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 bay leaf
1 small rosemary sprig
Add and cook for 5 minutes, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan:
4 tomatoes, diced coarse, or 1 small (12-ounce) can organic whole tomatoes, diced (including juice)
Arrange the chicken in the pain, skin side up, and pour in any juices that have collected. Pour in:
1 cup chicken broth
The liquid should reach halfway up the chicken; add more if needed. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Cover and cook at a bare simmer or in a 325F oven for 45 minutes.
Now, the end of the recipe is: When done, pour the braising liquid into a small bowl, skim the fat. Discard the bay leaf and rosemary. Taste for salt and adjust as needed. Return to the pan and serve. but that’s not what I do.
I put a little more chicken stock in so it ends up being like a soup. I take the chicken out, remove the meat from the bones, put into a bowl and then scoop the liquid into the bowl, add some salt and pepper and voila, perfect chicken winter soup.