Pot roast chicken in vermouth

This is comfort food. Perfect for stormy weather.

2 chicken thighs

1 stick of celery

1/2 fennel bulb

4 banana shallots (or baby leeks)

4 medium potatoes

lemon thyme

100 ml vermouth

100 ml stock (veal, chicken or veg)

a handfull of almonds

salt, pepper, olive oil

You will need an oven-proof casserole for this – preferably one of the le Creusset ones. It should be just big enough to take everything – you do not want the chicken to touch the liquid.

Finely dice the celery. Slice the fennel finely, and peel the potatoes and cut into thin coins.

Brown the chicken thighs on all sides in a little olive oil. Remove from the pot and set aside.

Turn down the heat. Sweat the celery and fennel in the chicken fat left in the casserole. Add a glug of oil if there is not enough. After 5 minutes or so, add a few sprigs of lemon thyme, the vermouth and stock. Season w salt and pepper, and leave to simmer for some 5 minutes.

Layer the potato coins neatly on top of the celery/fennel mix. Season again, then place the chicken thighs on top, and tuck in the shallots. Season once more, and let the dish simmer (lid on, but ever so slightly ajar) at the lowest possible heat for 30 minutes. Set the oven to 175 C (fan).

Transfer the dish to the hot oven, lid removed. Leave to roast for approximately 20 minutes. It may need 5 minutes less, or 5 minutes more. Just keep an eye on it.

While the chicken casserole is roasting in the oven, gently toast the almonds (preferably blanched) until nicely golden brown. Set aside.

Remove the casserole from the oven. Plate up and sprinkle over the toasted almonds and some of the juices.

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