This classic French chicken casserole has been given a healthy makeover but still has a rich, deep flavour
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- 3 rashers (100g) dry-cured, smoked back bacon, fat trimmed, chopped
- 12 small shallots, peeled
- 2 free-range chicken legs (460g), skin removed
- 4 free-range chicken thighs with bone and skin (650g), skin removed
- 2 free-range, skinless, boneless chicken breasts (280g)
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp brandy or Cognac
- 600ml red wine
- 150ml good-quality chicken stock
- 2 tsp tomato purée
- 3 thyme sprigs, 2 rosemary sprigs and 2 bay leaves, to make a bouquet garni
- small handful chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- 250g chestnut mushroom, halved if large
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1½ tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp softened butter
MethodTip in the bacon and fry until crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Add the shallots to the pan and fry, stirring or shaking the pan often, for 5-8 mins until well browned all over. Remove and set aside with the bacon.
- 750ml bottle full-bodied red wine (needn't be expensive, just gutsy)
- 4 large chicken legs, halved (or 8 thighs), preferably free range
- 3 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
- 25g unsalted butter
- 2 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 25g plain flour
- 1 bouquet garni with 2 bay leaves and 1 large sprig of thyme, optional
- zest of 1 orange removed with a vegetable peeler (so it doesn't dissolve completely)
- 20 very plump prunes, stoned
- cornflour, if needed
- sugar, to taste
- grated zest of half an orange
- handful of parsley, roughly chopped
- Reduce the wine by half over a high heat – this takes 15-20 minutes. Leave to cool a little then pour it over the chicken in a shallow dish and leave to marinate for 10- 15 minutes. This done, drain the chicken and pat it dry. Keep the marinade for the sauce.
- Preheat the oven to 110C/Gas 1⁄4/fan 90C. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole. (If you don’t have one, do this in a large saucepan.) Season the chicken, then fry to colour in the oil for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat, add the butter and caramelise for a further 5-10 minutes, until the chicken is a beautiful dark brown colour.
- Pour off the fat, add the tomatoes and cook over a high heat for 2 minutes so they start to caramelise and get wonderfully roasty toasty. Spoon in the flour, stirring well to make sure you don’t get any lumps. Now gradually pour in the reduced wine, stirring like mad, then just enough water (about 500ml/18fl oz), to cover the chicken. Drop in the bouquet garni, if using, and orange zest.
- Bring the liquid gently to the boil, tip in the prunes and skim the top (if you’ve used a saucepan, tip into a casserole now). Braise in the oven, with the lid slightly ajar, for 2 hours. Make absolutely sure the liquid never boils. Check to see if the chicken is tender enough to eat with a spoon – it should be falling apart – then take out of the oven.
- Lift out the chicken and prunes into a serving dish and keep warm. Reduce the sauce until it is rich in colour and strong in taste, with the thickness of a gravy. If necessary, when it has the strong taste you want but is not thick enough, thicken with a little cornflour dissolved in water. Season with salt, sugar and black pepper, then strain it back over the chicken and prunes. Serve sprinkled with the orange zest and parsley.
- 1 x 1.3kg organic chicken, jointed into 8 (see steps and method)
- 5 tbsp plain flour
- 75ml olive oil
- 250g smoked streaky bacon, cut in pieces
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 leeks, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped
- 250g shallot, peeled, but left whole
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 100ml cognac
- 1 bottle red wine, preferably from Burgundy
- 100ml chicken stock (preferably homemade (see Know-how below)
- 250g fresh cep mushroom or large chestnut mushrooms, trimmed and thickly sliced
- Joint the chicken (for pictures of jointing, click on step by step link above or read the instructions below. Alternatively, ask the butcher to do it for you).
- JOINTING THE CHICKEN: Pull out the wing joints and cut off the wing tip. Using a small knife, cut around the skin and flesh on the lower wing joint through to the bone, then scrape back the flesh. Using a heavier large knife, smash through the bone halfway along and detach. Repeat on the other side.
- Detach the scaly leg bone at the drumstick with a hefty thump of the large knife. Slash through skin where the thigh joins the body and pull leg firmly from socket to dislocate the thigh bone. Press down and pull to expose the 'oyster' muscle underneath the bird. Slice the thigh away from the back of the body.
- Lay the whole leg joint out on the board, find the mid-point socket joint and simply cut straight through it for neat thigh and leg joints. Repeat on the other side.
- Cut through the skin and flesh halfway along to the drumstick and scrape back the flesh, then smash through the bone.
- Using poultry scissors or heavy kitchen scissors, cut away the back half of the breast carcass, to leave a 'crown' of chicken breast and wing joint. Cut through the top of the crown to divide in half for two chicken breasts.
- Lay each breast joint on the board, then cut in half again at right angles so you have one portion with a wing joint and one without. You should now have eight neat, joints of chicken.
- Put the flour into a bowl with some salt and pepper, then toss in the chicken, shaking off the excess. Place the chicken on a plate and season again.
- Heat 4 tbsp of oil in a large shallow pan and brown the chicken joints. (Do this in batches if your pan is not large enough, adding extra oil if necessary.) Tip the bacon into the pan along with the chicken, stirring until lightly browned and crisp. Using tongs, remove the chicken to a plate.
- Add all the vegetables and herbs to the bacon with a splash more oil, if necessary, then cook for about 5 mins, stirring once or twice. Pour in the Cognac and bubble up, scraping the pan to deglaze, for 2-3 mins. Then pour in all the wine and bring to the boil.
- Tip in the chicken joints; press into the pan so they are immersed in liquid and cook, uncovered, for 10 mins, until the wine has reduced by half. Pour in the stock, return to a simmer, season and cook, uncovered, for 1 hr until the liquid has reduced by half and the chicken is tender. Set aside for 10 mins before serving.
- Heat another 4 tbsp oil in a large frying pan and, when hot, fry the mushrooms for about 8 mins, seasoning well and stirring frequently until nicely browned. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Serve the chicken in bowls with vegetables and sauce spooned over, and top with the mushrooms.
- 18 - ounce packagefresh mushrooms, halved (or quartered if large)
- 4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 1/2 cups frozen pearl onions
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 6 chicken thighs, skinned (2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds total)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1cup dry red wine or reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2tablespoons tapioca
- 2tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2tablespoons snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
- 3cups hot cooked whole grain wide noodles
- In a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker combine mushrooms, carrots, and onions. Set aside.
- Lightly coat an unheated large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of chicken thighs with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Add chicken thighs to skillet, meaty sides down. Cook about 6 minutes or until brown, turning once. Add chicken to cooker.
- Add wine to skillet; bring to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer for 2 minutes, using a wooden spoon to scrape up brown bits from bottom and sides of skillet. Remove from heat. Stir in broth, tapioca, vinegar, herbs de Provence, garlic, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour over chicken in cooker.
- Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 5 to 5 1/2 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 hours. To serve, sprinkle with parsley and serve with noodles.