Monday, 5 September 2011

How I Improved On Delia!

I made a chicken casserole, and Bob said how splendid it was. I said it was a Delia Recipe which I had tweaked a bit. “You should blog it, entitled ‘How I improved On Delia’” he said. It feels somewhat heretical to suggest one can improve on Ms Smith, but here goes…

Unfortunately I’ve only a picture of Bob’s empty plate to show you!*


The ‘original’ is Chicken in The Pot, from her cookery course. I used my 1979 Cookery Course Book 2, but found I just found it online here.

It is interesting to notice that she has changed her original recipe slightly too.

Delia says the famous ‘poule au pot’ was  associated with Henri IV of France, whose ambition was that every family in his kingdom might be able to afford to eat this dish every Sunday.

I made it using what I had to hand, and for just two of us

  • 2 chicken joints
  • 35g Sainsbury's diced chorizo [¼pack]
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 3 medium sized carrots, peeled, cut into 1” chunks
  • 1 medium potato peeled, cut into 1” chunks
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 300ml of chicken stock
  • 50ml wine vinegar
  • 2 small onions, peeled and sliced
  • 5 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp cornflour

Preheat the oven to 200ºC [fan 180ºC] In a small frying pan, heat the oil, and soften the onions. Transfer to a 2pint / 1.5 litre casserole dish which can go in oven and on the hob. Now brown the chicken pieces in the oil, transfer them to the casserole. Fry off the carrots, potato, garlic and celery. Put everything in the casserole along with the chorizo and the thyme leaves [strip them from their woody stalks] Pour in stock and vinegar and add salt and pepper. Bring to the boil. Place lid on casserole, cook for 30 minutes in the oven. Stir in the mushrooms. Cook for a further 30 minutes.

Mix the cornflour with a little water. Remove casserole from oven, and lift out meat and veg with a slotted spoon, transfer to warmed dish. Bring liquid to boil, stir in cornflour and keep stirring till thickened. Replace meat and veg, stir into the sauce, and carry casserole dish to dining table, where it will be greeted with great enthusiasm and eaten surprisingly quickly.

deliasDelia’s dish involves a whole chicken, and looks like this – although her final instructions say “discard the herbs, carve and serve the chicken and vegetables with the sauce poured over them.” But a whole, golden chicken is probably more photogenic than a sliced one, lying under a blanket of sauce.

Delia’s original recipe used streaky bacon – the new online version uses pancetta or lardons [did we have them back in the 70’s?] We felt that the chorizo really added extra flavour.

*having ‘finished’ Bob then found a slice of soda bread and mopped up the remaining sauce. I think this recipe was a definite winner!


  1. The empty plate says it all......a complete success story!!

    Sue xx

  2. sounds completely yummy! Blessings!


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