Chicken Bouillabaisse — The Weekender

By: Marisa McClellan

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, there’s no way to deny it: The holiday season is here. I, for one, welcome the onslaught of parties, cookie exchanges and evenings spent shopping and wrapping gifts. There’s something so joyful and cozy about the many moments of celebration that will be folded into the next four weeks.

With so much packed into so little time, there’s never been a better time for project cooking. It’s just good sense to invest a few minutes over the weekend in a pot of something filling that can be quickly reheated for dinner one night and lunch the next day.

What’s more, in this season of entertaining, having a recipe tucked in your repertoire that is simple enough to prepare but sufficiently elegant to add to the buffet at your holiday open house is a very good thing.

Right now, I’ve found that the recipe that checks all these boxes is Ina Garten’s Chicken Bouillabaisse. It comes together in just a few steps, and dirties just a plate, a Dutch oven and a food processor or blender. The bulk of the time the recipe demands is hands off. You can relax (or prep that next batch of cookie dough) while the oven does the work and fills your home with warming scents. All this and more is what makes it perfect for The Weekender.

Before you start browning your chicken, here are a few things you should know:

  • The recipe calls for a 4-5 pound chicken, cut into 10 pieces. I find that you can sub the chicken parts your family likes the best in similar quantities. In my household, this means the legs and breasts.
  • Bouillabaisse traditionally calls for saffron and Ina includes it here. It’s a notoriously pricey ingredient. If your budget doesn’t run to such things, you can omit it.
  • This dish is served with a condiment called rouille — it’s essentially a highly spiced, homemade mayonnaise. If you feel that making your own is out of your reach, stir lemon juice, crushed garlic and red pepper flakes into a cup of the store-bought stuff. It will suffice.

Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars . Her first cookbook, also called Food in Jars , will be published by Running Press in spring 2012.

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