I’m giving you a little recipe for Poulet Yassa, a Sengalese slow cooked chicken that is a super rewarding dish that can be easily prepared over a camp fire. It’s all the right savoury, tart, and (naturally) sweet from the onions and olives that star in the show, while the chicken never fails to satisfy. It’s super tender, and maintains its flavour with its nicely browned skin. Whether you’re at home using granny’s casserole dish that you almost accidentally gave away once, or camping out in the woods with some just-picked wild blackberries for dessert, this dish is much delicious …no matter what.
Camp Fire Poulet Yassa (Sengalese Yassa Chicken, serves 6)
You will need:
the juice of 2 large lemons
4 brown onions, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
1 fresh birds eye chilli or 1/4 habanero chilli, chopped finely
1 whole habanero chilli, pricked with a fork
rice bran oil for frying
1 whole chicken, cut into large pieces like you would for a casserole
1/2 cup of green olives with their pits in
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup water
2 handfuls of small sized new potatoes
For the rice:
3 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter (grass fed if you can get your hands on it)
Put together your chicken marinade by combining the lemon juice, onion, chilli, and 4 tbsp of the oil in a large bowl or pan (big enough to fit your chicken). Season with salt and pepper to taste, then place your chicken pieces into the marinade. You might find it easiest to cut your chicken up with a good pair of meat scissors. Cover with cling film or a lid and leave it in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight if you can.
Take your chicken out of the fridge to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, heat some oil over a high heat in a large casserole dish or in my case, a cast iron campfire crockpot. Brown your chicken on each side, and leave the browned pieces on a plate. Take the onions out of your marinade and sweat them over a low heat with some more oil in the pan. Slowly pan fry the onions until they soften and become translucent. Be patient, you don’t want crispy burnt onions changing the flavour of your chicken. Add the carrots as soon as you see the onions becoming translucent to sweat.
Once the onions and carrots are soft and tender, pour all of the marinade into the pan, and bring to a simmer before returning the chicken into the pot. Add your olives, potatoes, whole chilli, mustard, and water before bringing to the boil. When it is bubbling, lower your heat to low, cover with a lid, and leave to slowly cook for about 45 mins until your chicken is falling off the bone. Check half way through to make sure your liquid isn’t drying up and the bottom of the pan isn’t burning. On a camp fire this is a little harder to control, but that is the beauty of cooking this way.
To cook the rice, bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer over a low heat for 20 mins. Once your time is up, take the pan off the heat and leave to steam with the lid on for 5 mins, before fluffing up with a spatula.
Season your chicken with salt to taste before serving over the rice with lots of sauce, onions, potatoes and olives over the top.