ROASTED CHICKEN & TARRAGON PAPPARDELLE INSPIRED BY DOLLY ALDERTON
In a tradition echoed in many households throughout the world, Dolly talked about how her mum would cook her roast chicken every Sunday, making it a brilliant choice for a Desert Island Dish. At the time a tradition like this just becomes part of your life and you may never stop to think about it too much, but it really is these things that you look back on and remember.
These sorts of traditions are the kind that makes food so much more than just food. Yes, of course the roast chicken Dolly's mum cooked her was delicious; she would roast it with lemon, garlic and rosemary which just sounds heavenly. But more than that, it meant so much more because it was the ritual cooking of a delicious roast chicken feast every Sunday evening by a mother who knew her daughter was dreading going to school the next morning. In the absence of being able to stop time this small act of kindness and love was one way she could help. Sunday night blues and that sinking back-to-school feeling is something we've all experienced at some point. A delicious home cooked supper of roast chicken is, I think, the perfect antidote to Sunday night blues.
The fact that Dolly is now a vegetarian but still chose this as one of her Desert Island Dishes goes to show how these memories evoked by the food become more meaningful than the food itself. Such is the power of a great roast chicken I suppose. And the extra power of one cooked by someone you love.
Dolly went on to describe how her mum would sometimes pull apart the chicken and would tip the torn chicken along with all the roasted chicken cooking juices into a bowl of tagliatelle along with peas, rosemary and butter. Ever since I met with Dolly I have had this running through my head on a loop. On repeat. Constantly. Wherever I am.
Dolly mentioned this was a take on an old Nigella recipe and so of course, I had to look it up. Nigella does indeed do something similar although it was hard to track it down and it's only really similar in idea, not in the execution. Nigella adds pine nuts and lots of raisins to her version. Whilst I do not believe Nigella could ever put a foot wrong, I am one of the odd humans who finds raisins in savoury dishes just plain wrong. Rather like finding a paperclip in your food, they just have no place there. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of places I welcome a raisin. I love them in carrot cake, in scones and in my porridge. But in my pasta? No siree.
I have come up with my own version of this dish and I have made it about 8 times in the last 5 days. Not in a trying to perfect the recipe kind of way, just in a gluttonous piglet kind of way. And yes, sometimes there is a difference.
4 large chicken thighs, skin on (of course you could also use left over roast chicken)
350g (12oz) pappardelle
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup double cream
1/3 cup parmesan
2 sprigs of fresh tarragon leaves only
1 tsp dried tarragon
salt and pepper
good glug of olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 200c (380F)
Pop your chicken thighs in a roasting tin and drizzle with olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper and then sprinkle with the dried tarragon.
Roast in the hot oven for a good 35 - 40 minutes. The skin should be beautifully crispy and should come away from the chicken when you try to lift it.
Gently fry the red onion in a little olive oil until lovely and soft. Add the white wine, and turn the heat up. Allow about 3/4 of the wine to disappear. Add the cream to the pan and allow to bubble deliciously.
Cook the pasta according to the instructions.
Tear the chicken thighs up and add to the cream with a squeeze of lemon juice. Tip in all the delicious roasted chicken juices from the pan. Yum.
Add the pasta, the fresh tarragon and a sprinkling of grated parmesan.