Saturday 3 August 2013

She Is Clothed With Strength and Dignity

My Mother's Praised Chicken is Nigella's mum's dish. She cooked this for the family when they were young.. It is one dish which Nigella cooks most often than anything else. She calls it praised chicken because it is a cross between poached and braised.

'This may well be - indeed is - the smell, the taste, and the dish that says "family" to me and my siblings, and brings our long-absent mother back to the kitchen and the table with us. But the fact that I've cooked it more often and over more years than I've cooked anything else doesn't make writing a recipe for it any easier. If anything, it makes it harder, much harder.'  Nigella Lawson

I thought this is very touching and it moves me to make this dish to savour Nigella's childhood comfort food. It is basically a very flavourful one pot chicken soup. Good for days when your want something nourishing and light. This soup is not a dish my children would sing praises to me because they dislike soup, especially soup over rice. Hmm...I wonder which home cooked dish my children would shout praises in remembrance of me?

I made fresh bouquet garni with parsley, thymes and dry bay leaves, and bind a bundle of parsley stalks for the soup.

My Mother's Praised Chicken
Adapted from Nigella Kitchen


1 large chicken (small, 1 kg)
2 teaspoons garlic infused olive oil (3 cloves of garlic infused in heated olive oil)
100ml white wine
2-3 leeks (cleaned,trimmed and cut into 7cm logs)
2-3 carrots (peeled and cut into batons)
1-2 sticks celery sliced
approximately 2 litres cold water(about 1.5 litres)
1 bouquet garni or 1 teaspoon dried herbs
1 small bunch fresh parsley
2 teaspoons sea salt(adjust to taste)
2 teaspoons red peppercorns (black peppercorns)
English mustard
chopped fresh dill


  • Get out a large,flame-safe cooking pot with a lid in which the chicken can fit snugly
  • On a washable board, un-truss the chicken, put it breast side down and press down until you hear the breastbone crack. Then press down again, so that the chicken is flattened slightly. Now cut off the ankle joints below the drumstick (but keep them);
  • Put the oil in the pan to heat, then brown the chicken for a few minutes breast-side down, and turn up the heat and turn over the chicken, tossing in the feet as you do so. Still over a vigorous heat add the wine or vermouth to the pan and let it bubble down a little before adding the leeks, carrots and celery.
  • Pour in enough cold water to cover the chicken, though the very top of it may poke out, then pop in the bouquet garni or your herbs of choice, and the parsley stalks or sprigs.
  • The chicken should be almost completely submerged by now and if not, do add some more cold water, You want it just about covered.Bring to a bubble, clamp on the lid, turn the heat to very low and leave to cook for 11/2 - 2 hours. Leave it to stand with the heat off, but the lid still on, for the remaining 20-30 minutes.
  • Serve the chicken and accompanying vegetables with brown basmatic rice, adding a ladleful or two of liquid over each shallow bowl, as you go, and putting fresh dill and mustard on the table for the eater to add as they wish. (served with white rice and parsley)
Note: My chicken is small about 1kg. I cooked it for 1hr and 15 mins and left pot overnight in the fridge. The next day, I removed the hardened fats before heating. The chicken meat is very tender and falling off the bones. I used black peppercorns. Red peppercorns is quite expensive here $14.50 for 1oz and I couldn't find green peppercorns which is a more suitable substitute.

This post is linked to Cook Like A Star 'Nigella Lawson' organised by Anuja from Simple Baking,  Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids and Joyce from Kitchen Flavours.

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25


  1. Hi Lian,
    This is a lovely bowl of soup. Yes, it is rather touching, what she wrote.
    The soup must be very fragrant and peppery, just as I love my soups, peppery!
    Thanks for linking, hope you have a wonderful delicious Sunday!

    1. Hi Joyce, actually there is no hint of pepper in this soup.

  2. Thanks for making this and giving it a special place in our kitchens too.... bookmarked!

    1. Hi Emily, this is good for the family, young and old.

  3. Lian, this will be my one pot meal and is indeed healthy and yummy :)

    1. Hi Ivy, you will like this healthy soup. Good to make for everyone especially those who are convalescing.

  4. Usually I associate the Brits with roast chicken (that's what I always see them eat), but this praised chicken of yours look beautiful. An extra bonus with the flavorful broth.

    1. I am surprised too. This soup tastes a little like Chinese chicken soup despite the herbs. Maybe if I eat with dill and English mustard, taste will be different

  5. This looks like a wholesome, healthy, family meal ! Perfect for rainy Sundays :). Thank you for linking!

    1. That will be nice and cosy. Love a bowl of hot soup on rainy days

  6. hi lian, when i was small i usually like to have soup over my rice..dont know why..maybe it makes the rice easier to swallow..hehe..this sounds like a great chicken soup dish..i wonder how red peppercorn taste like.. :)

    1. Do you still like soup over rice? I usually have it this way when I am in a hurry or want to catch my favourite show on Telly:D

  7. Hi Lian,

    This is the kind of chicken soup that "heals" everything... Must be so comforting to enjoy these wonderful flavours.


  8. Hi Zoe, yea, good for the mind and soul.

  9. this soup is definitely so comforting
    thks for sharing :)


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