Now I’m not trying go all Heston and I did wonder if I’d lost the plot when I first conceived of cooking with gin? After some research, I found cooking with gin as an ingredient had been done and with some great success. So I thought why the hell not?
My Gin Chicken is cooked in one pot and does not taste of gin per se. The alcohol is burnt off through the cooking process and it’s a grain and gluten-free dish. I can also assure all gin lovers that it is not a waste of gin, anything but.
The wonderful aromatic flavours of the gin infuse the chicken, cannellini beans and green olives with juniper and other botanicals that blend beautifully with the lemon, thyme, garlic and lime zest. Served with some green beans or salad and you have a somewhat exotic main course perfect to share with friends.
I am partial to a generous gin and tonic. A fondness I inherited from my late (Paternal) Granny, who poured the kind of G&T that left you holding on to the arm of your chair to steady yourself as you got up. You only ever needed the one.
My Granny was one of those people with a real twinkle in her eye. I learnt a lot from watching how my Granny lived her life. She was a fabulous generous host, and knew how to enjoy the good things in life, but most of all she always impressed on me the importance of kindness.
Thinking about this reminded me of the epic Catlin Moran’s ‘posthumous letter to her daughter’. Here are a few of my favourite extracts. In this first one she refers to being kind.
“The main thing is just to try to be nice. You already are – so lovely I burst, darling – and so I want you to hang on to that and never let it go. Keep slowly turning it up, like a dimmer switch, whenever you can. Just resolve to shine, constantly and steadily, like a warm lamp in the corner, and people will want to move towards you in order to feel happy, and to read things more clearly. You will be bright and constant in a world of dark and flux, and this will save you the anxiety of other, ultimately less satisfying things like ‘being cool’, ‘being more successful than everyone else’ and ‘being very thin’.
This next piece of advice I think should be imprinted on every teenage girls mirror. It’s also something I can need reminding of.
Four: choose your friends because you feel most like yourself around them, because the jokes are easy and you feel like you’re in your best outfit when you’re with them, even though you’re just in a T-shirt. Never love someone whom you think you need to mend – or who makes you feel like you should be mended. There are boys out there who look for shining girls; they will stand next to you and say quiet things in your ear that only you can hear and that will slowly drain the joy out of your heart. The books about vampires are true, baby. Drive a stake through their hearts and run away.
And finally I just love this. I think it says it all.
“Babyiest, see as many sunrises and sunsets as you can. Run across roads to smell fat roses. Always believe you can change the world – even if it’s only a tiny bit, because every tiny bit needed someone who changed it. Think of yourself as a silver rocket – use loud music as your fuel; books like maps and co-ordinates for how to get there. Host extravagantly, love constantly, dance in comfortable shoes..“
You can read the full beautiful creation (letter) here but beware you might be in need of gin by the end of it.
Most of all I highly recommend going to your kitchen, turning up your rocket fuel of choice and giving my gin chicken a try. Enjoy.
Update: I asked Nigella on twitter if she’d ever cooked with gin? Here’s her reply:
Braised Chicken with Cannellini Beans and Green Olives
Serves 4 as a main meal
- 2 x tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1kg chicken thighs (ideally organic with the bone in)
- 200ml of best quality gin (or 1 cup)
- 200ml of chicken or vegetable stock (gluten-free and ideally organic)
- 1 x juice of a lemon
- 2 peeled garlic cloves peeled
- leaves from 2 x sprigs of thyme
- 1 x peel from a lime
- Salt and Pepper
- 2 x tablespoons of chopped flat parsley
- 20 or so pitted green olives (ideally organic)
- 2 x 400g cans of cannellini beans (ideally organic)
Put the oven on to warm at gas mark 4, 180c, 350f
- heat the olive oil in a large oven proof pan (that has a lid) and brown the chicken on all sides (approx. 5 mins)
- take the chicken out of the pan. bash the garlic cloves with the handle of a knife or other heavy bunt instrument. Add the gin and garlic to the pan and bring to the boil scrapping off any chicken bits stuck on the bottom of the pan.
- Turn the heat off and add the lemon juice, thyme, lime peel, cannelloni beans and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Place the chicken on top and gently bring to the boil, then take off the heat, put the lid on and place the dish in the oven and cook for 40 mins or 20 if you are using boneless chicken thighs.
- Take out of the oven and mix in the parsley and serve and enjoy with green beans or salad.
This dish will keep well covered in the fridge for up to 2 days or will also freeze well for up to 2 months.