Friday, 15 March 2013

Three cheers for my Chardonnay chicken!

Today I give you another fantastically tasty (and of course easy) dish which is one of my favourite chicken recipes of all times: coq au vin blanc. It gives maximum flavour with minimum effort - and cost: because it tastes so luxurious and velvety-rich (but without the "too-heavyness" of its red wine counterpart), I somehow never focused on the fact that it is extremely economical: it costs just under €8.50 for the main ingredients - that's €2 per head ONLY! Fine dining surely doesn't get any cheaper (OR BETTER!) than that - so bon app├ętit tout le monde!

1 1.5kg chicken, jointed into 8/10 pieces*
16 shallots, peeled**
100g bacon or pancetta bits
250g mushrooms, halved/quartered
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 bay leaves
a sprig of fresh thyme or 1/2 ts of dried thyme
2 tbsp seasoned flour
250 ml white wine
250 ml chicken stock (from a cube is fine)
2 tbsp medium dry sherry
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°/160° fan oven.
Put the seasoned flour and the chicken pieces into a large ziplock bag. Close and shake until well coated.
Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large pan, add the bacon and fry until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and put into a large casserole.
Add another tbsp of oil and the butter to the pan, then add the shallots and mushrooms and fry until golden, adding the garlic after a few minutes. Add to the casserole, tuck in the bay leaves and add the thyme.
Heat the remaining oil and fry the chicken pieces until dark golden (you may have to do this in two batches). Put in the casserole and then flash the pan with the stock and wine. Pour over the chicken and vegetables, add the sherry and seasoning. Then cover with the lid and bring to the boil.
Put in the oven and cook for ca 90 mins until the chicken is done (insert a metal skewer into the thickest part of a thigh - the juices should run clear). If not, cook for another ten mins or so.
Serves 4 with boiled potatoes or mash.

* You can, of course, buy already jointed chicken pieces, but I always joint a whole chicken myself - it's so much cheaper and not difficult at all: And I always include the back chopped in half in casseroles as well - my cook's treat...
** If a skinned shallot separates into two, then these count as two.

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