The longer you leave chicken to cook, the deeper and more intense its flavor will be.I can almost see readers eyebrows raising whenever I suggest leaving a pot on the stove to cook slowly for an hour or two. I think Im expected to justify the time involved, even though I’m not asking anyone actually to do anything in the kitchen while its bubbling away. Much of the work is done for you while it cooks, leaving you free to get on with something else.
The advantages of slow cooking aren’t merely functional. The longer and slower you cook something, the more tender and concentrated in flavor the end result will be. This is heightened when there’s a minimal amount of liquid in the pan, because that means the meat braises and steams in its own juices, rather than dispersing the flavor in an ocean of sauce or gravy; this also helps facilitate an exchange of flavor between the contents of the pan, which generally features a mixture of meat and starch
Chicken, with its mild flavor and soft, yielding texture, benefits from this method in particular. One of the best examples I know is the Jewish Sephardi dish of sofrito, in which chicken is cooked for many hours on a very low heat, leaving it melting and falling apart; I’ve even seen recipes that call for it to be left to cook from Friday afternoon right through to Saturday evening.
I’ve used the sofrito approach in two of today’s recipes, pairing chicken with pasta and with celeriac, and it would also work with other starchy vegetables, such as potato or carrot. For me, this is the ultimate family friendly way to cook: a hearty one-pot dish packed with intense flavor and made in such a way that everyone has the chance to hang out and play, including the cook.
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