So, back to basics and ready for the winter. I’ve been having some fun with stranger recipes lately, and yet there are still so many classics I haven’t created. This is one. I haven’t had it for about 2 years, and when I did, I used to make it from a Schwartz ready made packet. I can feel the judgement seeping through my screen…
Anyway, this recipe is from Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cuisine. It was between this and Julia Child, and while less authentic, this recipe is achievable in an evening after work.
And let’s not mess around, it’s tasty as all hell. Almost worth making for the day after, as like most stews, the flavour gets better overnight.
3/4 bottle of reliable red wine. I went with Pinot Noir
150ml chicken stock
A healthy glass of brandy
1-1.5kg chicken thighs or quarters
110g unsmoked bacon, diced
1 red and one white onion, diced
150g mushrooms, chopped
At least 2 cloves garlic
A bouquet garni, or a couple of sprigs thyme, rosemary and bay leaves, and the means to fish them out again!
In a large cooking pot, pour in the wine and stock, plus a little thyme, a crushed clove of garlic and a bay leaf, and simmer until reduced by about half, about 20 minutes. Add the mushrooms for the last 5 minutes.
When reduced, pour through a seive into a large bowl or container and set aside, then add the mushrooms to a separate bowl.
Rinse and dry the pan, and set over a medium heat. Add a little butter, a little oil and the bacon until it starts to release it’s fat. Then throw in the onions, reduce the heat, and sweat them until translucent and a little golden.
Add the chicken, skin side down and cook until the skin turns golden brown, then flip them and cook for another few minutes, then flip them again.
Heat the brandy in a smaller pan (or the microwave, it is the 21st century) then pour over the chicken. Elizabeth David says to light it first, and she’s probably right, but I have issues with burning good alcohol.
Add the wine, more garlic to your preference, and the bouquet garni, reduce the heat to a bare simmer, put a lid on it- I go tight on, as the sauce should be plentiful. You now have 40 minutes to spare.
During the 40 minutes, beat together 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp flour to make a sort of dry roux. Roll this into hazelnut sized balls ready for the final stage, rinse your bowls, and preheat your oven to about 100c.
40 minutes up, add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes uncovered. Using a slotted spoon, remove all the solid food to a large ovenproof bowl, leaving just the wine. Keep the chicken, mushrooms and all warm in the oven. Increase to a slightly fiercer simmer, and throw in the butter and flour balls. Stir these using a fork till they’re fully melted, and the sauce is thick. Put the chicken, mushroom and onion in a bowl, and pour over the delicious rich sauce.
Serve with a few chunks of torn up bread to mop up at the end.
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