Posts Tagged “chicken”

Cured Chicken Leg with Butter Beans This is a great way to cook a chicken leg that gets the best out of the skin by exploiting its crispy crunchy potential. I'm sure most of you will agree when I say the best part of a chicken is the crispy skin! The secret here is to lightly cure the chicken skin by sprinkling rock salt on it and leaving for about 8 hours. This draws moisture out of the skin, meaning that it goes amazingly crispy when you fry it, much the same as a confit duck leg. I make a simple spice rub with some olive oil, garlic and paprika and rub this into the flesh side. The result is amazing! The butter bean stew is rustic and unfussy, reminiscent of a French cassoulet or a Spanish white bean stew. I've finished it with some fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Add a bottle of fresh white wine and you've got a perfect summer's evening meal. You'll need to bone out the chicken leg, ideally with the skin intact, with no holes. It requires a bit of finesse. Alternatively, you could just use thighs instead, which are much easier. --- * 2 large chicken legs, bones removed * 1 tbsp coarse rock salt * 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for frying * 50g pancetta, cut into chunky lardons * 2 medium carrots, diced * 1 small onion, diced * 3 cloves garlic, chopped * 200g dried butter beans * 500ml chicken stock * 2 tsp worcester sauce * 2 tsp smoked paprika * 50g chorizo, diced * 2 tsp balsamic vinegar * 1 bunch basil, leaves picked * sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper * vegetable oil, for frying 1. Take the boned out chicken legs and score the flesh side several times. This will allow the flavour of the spice rub to penetrate effectively. Take one of the cloves of garlic and crush it to a paste. Place in a small bowl with 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika. Mix to a thick paste, then add a generous pinch of sea salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Mix well, then rub into the flesh side of the chicken legs. Place the legs on a plate, flesh side down, then sprinkle the rock salt evenly onto the skin side. Place in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight. Place the butter beans in a bowl and generously cover with cold water. Leave to soak, also for 8 hours or overnight. 2. For the butter bean stew, place a large heavy based pan or casserole dish over a medium/high heat and add a couple of glugs of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the lardons and fry until lightly caramelised, then add the diced carrots along with a pinch of salt. Continue to fry over a medium/high heat until the carrots are beginning to colour. Turn the heat down to low and add the onion and garlic. Cook gently, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. The onion should be nice and soft and starting to turn sweet. Drain the butter beans thoroughly and add to the pot with the vegetables, along with the chicken stock, the remaining 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika and the worcester sauce. Bring to the boil, then turn to a gentle simmer for about 1 hour, or until the beans are tender but not falling apart. They may take longer depending on how dry/old the beans are. 3. For the chicken, it's a good idea to remove it from the fridge to wash the salt off and dry it about 30 minutes before you cook it. This will ensure the skin is really dry and ready to go, and it'll also bring the meat up to temperature a bit, allowing for more even cooking. Wash the salt from the skin side of the chicken under a running tap, being careful not to wash off the paprika on the other side. Take some kitchen paper and pat the skin as dry as you can get it. 4. Get a large heavy based frying pan or skillet and place it over a high heat. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil and when it's hot, add the chicken, skin side down. Don't overcrowd the pan; if it's too small, do it in batches. Press the chicken gently to ensure the skin is lying flat, and cook like this for about 20 seconds. Now turn the heat to medium/low. Cook for about 5 minutes like this, ensuring that the heat isn't too high. You want the skin crispy, but not black! When you can see that the flesh side is about half cooked from beneath, flip the chicken and turn the heat right down. Cook for another 4 or 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. 5. Finish the butter bean stew by adding the balsamic vinegar and diced chorizo and stir through. To serve, put a couple of ladlefuls of the stew into each bowl, then carve the chicken into strips. Divide between the bowls, and garnish with the basil leaves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Roast Chicken Leg with Coriander A few years ago I posted recipe for confit chicken served with lemon dressing and pak choi. It was an adaptation of a home classic my mum makes on a regular basis, and the original dish, or a version close to it, is one of my go-to regular meals. This is a quicker and simpler version using coriander - both seeds and leaves - and it's absolutely tasty. It's ready in less than an hour, so is a pretty good option for a quick weeknight dinner. The process is very simple: one chicken leg per person, fried in a pan until golden, then oven-roasted in the same pan (to retain all the flavour) with coriander, lemon, shallots and a little water. 30-40 minutes later and you've got chicken with golden crunchy skin, and a light but powerful sauce that's packed full of flavour. It's wonderful served with wilted greens and boiled new potatoes. I have a cast-iron skillet that's perfect for this. Any oven-safe frying pan will do though, or even a casserole dish. The dish should be big enough to comfortably fit the chicken legs in one layer. --- * 2 chicken legs * 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped * 1 bunch coriander * 1 tsp coriander seeds * 1 lemon * sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper * vegetable oil, for frying 1. Heat the oven to 190C. Ensure you've got a skillet, frying pan or casserole that'll comfortably fit the chicken legs in one layer. Place the pan over a high heat and add about 2 tablespoons of oil. Season the chicken legs all over with salt, and when the oil is hot, add the chicken legs, skin side down. Don't overcrowd the pan; do them one at a time if necessary. Fry until light golden all over. They'll go into the oven later to finish cooking and get really crispy. 2. There should be quite a lot of fat in the pan; don't discard it. Cut the lemon in half and fry it, cut side down, until caramelised. Remove from the pan and set aside. Turn the heat to medium. Cut the bottom 3 inches of stalks from the bunch of coriander and roughly chop them (reserve the leaves for later). Add the chopped stalks to the pan along with the chopped shallot, coriander seeds, a generous pinch of salt and a pinch of cracked black pepper. Cook gently for 5 minutes until soft, then add the chicken legs and caramelised lemon. Everything should be sitting quite snugly in the pan. Now add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the chicken. Place in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the skin is crunchy and golden. 3. Remove the chicken legs from the pan and set aside. Use the back of a spoon to press the lemon halves and squeeze out all of their juice into the pan. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve into a saucepan. You should have a thin, richly flavoured sauce. Skim any fat that's resting on the surface, then add the coriander leaves and stir. 4. If you're serving this with spinach (which I highly recommend), use the pan you cooked the chicken in to cook the spinach, and you'll retain any flavour left in the pan. Serve the chicken legs and pour the sauce over.

Chicken Vindaloo Of all the curries in the world, the Vindaloo is probably the most misunderstood. It’s notorious for being extremely hot and spicy, yet a genuine vindaloo is nothing near as spicy as its reputation would suggest, as I discovered when I visited Goa; the former Portuguese colony in India that is the Vindaloo’s home. I sampled several local versions of the famous curry there, and expecting my head to be blown off with heat and spice, I was actually pleasantly surprised; these Vindaloos were only moderately spicy, but strong with garlic and also had a distinctive vinegary tang. Vinegar is the key ingredient in a Vindaloo, and it’s possibly the cause of the Vindaloo’s fearsome reputation. Accidentally adding too much vinegar, and a little too much cayenne pepper, and you’ll have a concoction so eye-wateringly powerful that it’s probably not very enjoyable to eat. Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe for Vindaloo calls for duck, which is a break from tradition; the classic was typically made with pork. I have opted for chicken, and the result is excellent. This is adapted from Madhur’s recipe, although the underlying technique is hers. Afterall, she is the master of Indian cooking. Personally, I like to enjoy this with nothing more than some plain white basmati rice, although some sautéed green vegetable such as kale or chard, will go alongside nicely. --- * 4 chicken thighs, bones and skins removed * 3 tbsps of high quality rapeseed oil * 80ml white wine vinegar * ½ teaspoon ground turmeric * 1 tbsp ground cumin * 1 tbsp paprika * 1 tbsp ground coriander * 1 tsp cayenne pepper * 1 ½ tsp garam masala * ½ tsp brown mustard seeds * ¼ tsp whole fenugreek seeds * 15 fresh curry leaves * 2 medium onions, finely sliced along the grain * 2 tbsps fresh ginger, finely grated * 10 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and finely grated * 2 medium tomatoes, coarsely grated * 1 handful of baby spinach leaves * 1 tsp sugar * 1 tsp salt 1. Put a large, heavy based pan on a medium-high heat and add the rapeseed oil. Wait for the oil to heat up. Season the chicken thighs generously all over with salt, then fry in the pan, on both sides, until golden. Remove, and set aside. 2. While the chicken is browning, measure out the turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne pepper and garam masala and set aside in a bowl. 3. Ideally, your pan will be big enough to cook the rest of the curry in it; if not, transfer all the fat from the pan into a larger one. Set the pan over a medium-high heat and add the mustard and fenugreek seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the onions and curry leaves. Stir and fry until the onions turn a light golden brown. Add the ginger and garlic, and stir until fully mixed. Now add the spice mixture and tomatoes. Turn the heat down and continue to cook for around 5 minutes. 4. Cut the browned chicken pieces into approx. 2cm chunks, and add to the pan along with the salt, sugar, vinegar and 270ml water. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 20 minutes. 5. Taste the curry and add more salt if necessary. Finally, add the baby spinach and stir until gently wilted. Serve with white rice.

Chicken and Coriander Broth I was clearing out my fridge a few weeks ago and came across a selection of root vegetables lurking there, waiting to be turned into something tasty. The first thing that came to my mind was soup, and since we were in the middle of winter I was thinking along the lines of a chunky, meaty broth. I decided on Chicken, which would provide my soup with both the chunky meat component and the stock. A bunch of fresh coriander which also happened to be in my fridge could be involved here in some way, I thought. I remembered a Madhur Jaffrey recipe for coriander chicken curry, involving large quantities of fresh coriander, resulting in a vibrant green curry sauce. It was fantastic, and so I reckoned it could work in my soup too. The earthiness of all those root vegetables would be balanced by the fresh zing of the coriander, perhaps. I prepared the chicken in my usual way; removed the breasts, then cut up the remaining carcass into small pieces and fried until nicely caramelised for the stock. This time I actually chopped up the wings and legs too and added them to the stock for extra flavour. Once the stock was almost ready, after an hour or so, I took some out to gently poach the breast meat in a separate pan. Once perfectly barely cooked, I allowed them to cool before carefully cutting them into dice. All the vegetables and chicken diced to the same size, making for an attractive looking bowl of broth. --- * 1 free range chicken * 1 carrot * 1 onion * 1 stick of celery * 1/2 leek * 2 cloves of garlic * 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, crushed * 5 black peppercorns * 150ml of dry sherry * 150ml of red wine * 75g of unsalted butter * chicken breasts * 150g of carrot * 150g of swede * 150g of celeriac * 1 onion * 2 large cloves of garlic * 1 large bunch of coriander * vegetable oil, for frying 1. Remove the breasts from the chicken and set aside. Chop the remaining carcass, including the legs and wings, into small pieces. Cut all the vegetables into approx. 1cm dice, set aside. Get a large heavy based pan on a high heat and colour the bones in 2 batches until golden and caramelised. Add a knob of butter at the end of each batch and foam for a few minutes, to enrich and brown the bones further, then drain the butter off in a colander. Add the vegetables, the garlic, coriander seeds and peppercorns to the same pan, which should have some dark intense residue stuck to the bottom, and sweat gently for about 15- 20 minutes, until soft and sweet. All the tasty chicken residue should have melted into the vegetables. Put the chicken bones back into the pan, and add the sherry and red wine. Reduce the alcohol until completely dry, then cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, skimming any fat and scum that rises. Simmer gently for 2 hours, skimming frequently. Pass through a fine sieve and set aside. 2. When the stock is almost ready, ladle some out into a small pan and gently poach the chicken breasts, just covered with hot stock but not boiling, turning the breasts every few minutes. Remove when they are just barely cooked, and allow to cool. While the stock is cooking, prepare the vegetables for the broth: cut the carrot, celeriac, swede and onion into 5mm dice, and finely chop the garlic. Sweat the onion and garlic in vegetable oil for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add the carrot and cook for about 5 minutes, add the swede and cook for a further 2 minutes, then finally add the celeriac. Sweat until all the veg is nicely cooked, then remove from the heat. Cut the cooked chicken breast into 5mm dice and set aside. When the stock is ready, season to taste with salt and pour just enough over the diced vegetables, ensuring to leave it nice and thick. You may have some leftover. Add the chicken dice and gently warm through. Finally chop the coriander and stir through at the very end.

Chicken and Pancetta I made this for my dinner a few weeks ago, I didn’t intend for it to be photographed and put up here, but it looked so good that I had to take a few snaps of it. It’s a really nice way to prepare chicken, and pretty easy too. I like chicken legs because they have so much more flavour than the breast meat, and by removing the bones and sinew they become an effortless pleasure to eat. The great thing about this dish is when you slice the chicken leg you see the beautiful glistening cross-section of the muscle, outlined by the crispy pancetta. I served it with sautéed button mushrooms, courgettes and a white wine cream sauce, generously finished with chopped parsley and a handful of baby spinach gently wilted through the sauce at the end. I love cooking vegetables and sauce together like this, in a kind of ragout…I advise a generous heap to present your chicken on, and have it with a salad and some nice white wine. --- * 4 chicken thighs * 12 rashers of thinly sliced pancetta * 400g of button mushrooms * 75g of baby spinach * 2 courgettes * 1 handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped * 3 cloves of garlic * 250 ml of white wine * 300 ml of whipping cream * 2 shallots * 1 sprig of rosemary, leaves picked * vegetable oil, for frying * sea salt and cracked black pepper 1. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs, and carefully remove the bone and gristly bits. Lay out the pancetta 3 rashers at a time on a board, and lay the chicken on top. Season with salt and pepper, then roll them up so the chicken is wrapped in the pancetta. Place in the fridge. 2. Heat the oven to 180C. Quarter the mushrooms, then sauté in in vegetable oil in a hot pan, in small batches, until caramelised and golden. Finely chop the shallots and garlic, and add to the same pan you cooked the mushrooms in. Sweat until soft, about 10 minutes. While the shallots are cooking, get a frying pan (with a metal handle as it is going into the oven) and place it on the heat. When it's nice and hot, fry the wrapped chicken thighs until the pancetta is crispy all around, then place in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. Check by inserting a skewer into the middle and touching it on your lip to see if it's hot. 3. In a small frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and fry the picked rosemary until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside. 4. Add the white wine to the shallots, and reduce until dry. Add the cream and the mushrooms, and reduce gently until the sauce is a nice thick consistency. Cut the courgettes into dice and simmer in the sauce until just cooked, then add the parsley and the spinach. Stir briefly, and serve. Slice each thigh into 3 pieces and serve.

Chicken Confit with Lemon Dressing Confit is one of my favourite ways of cooking meat; with something like a duck leg the meat will be amazingly tender and succulent, and the crisp crunchy skin giving a lovely texture contrast. It’s hard not to adore this. Chicken confit is not often heard of, but it's a great way to elevate the humble chicken leg to new tasty new heights. Lemon chicken was something my mum often made when we were young. Simply place some chicken legs in a roasting tray with olive oil, lemons and seasoning and roast in a hot oven until golden and crisp. You get a load of amazingly tasty juices in the tray which are spooned over potatoes or mopped up with crusty bread. One of my favourite ever meals! So this is a new version of that dish; the confit chicken has a superior texture, and the lemon and olive oil dressing is enriched with the jus from the confit and loaded with chopped fresh herbs. For this one, I served it with some sautéed pak choi and buttered new potatoes. --- * 4 chicken legs, or thighs * 600g of duck or goose fat * 2 tablespoons of coarse sea salt * 2 lemons * 5 tablespoons of olive oil * 1 small handful of chives * 1 small handful of parsley * 1 small handful of tarragon * a few drops of white wine vinegar * sea salt and cracked black pepper 1. Firstly, cure the chicken legs by placing them in a tray and rubbing in a couple of handfuls of the coarse sea salt. Cover, and leave in the fridge for 6-8 hours. 2. Set the oven to 140C. Wash off the salt from the chicken legs, then place in a pot and add enough duck fat to just cover them. Bring up to temperature on the stove to melt the fat, then cover and place in the oven for about 1 hour, or until the meat is just tender and almost falling off the bone. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the fat. If you wish you can store the chicken legs like this in the fridge for several weeks. 3. Remove the chicken legs from the fat. There will be a layer of chicken jus settled in the bottom of the pot; take this and reserve it for the dressing, it's delicious! Get a pan hot on the stove, and fry the legs in a few tablespoons of vegetable oil until the skin is golden and very crisp. While the chicken legs are cooking, make the dressing. Mix the chicken jus with the juice of two lemons, and whisk in the olive oil gradually. Finally add the herbs, and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and a few drops of white wine vinegar.

Barley Risotto with Chicken Years ago my friend Cecily showed me how to make risotto, she was so enthusiastic about the merits of this dish and was amazed that I’d never made it before! It was the start of a beautiful relationship with this Italian classic; now a staple in my repertoire, I must have made hundreds of risottos, including a few variations…barley is a nice alternative to rice and perfect to serve with chicken. We feed barley to the hens on the farm, so this seems like an apt combination for a dish. A benefit of using barley instead of rice is that it’s considerably more difficult to overcook. Also the grains give a lovely bursting sensation when you chew them which is fantastic. Firstly, I like to caramelise some finely diced pancetta or home-cured bacon to release some vital fat and get an amazing flavour base before adding finely chopped onion to sweat down slowly and gently. I will sweat the onion for a good fifteen minutes before adding anything else, making sure they become soft and sweet. To add some extra flavour and a nice touch of colour, I cooked some carrot dice and some baby button mushrooms in a separate pan to be stirred into the risotto at the very end, along with a generous handful of chopped herbs. --- * 400g of pearl barley * 2 onions * 3 cloves of garlic * 75g of streaky bacon * 250ml of dry white wine * 1 1/2litres of chicken stock * 125g of baby button mushrooms * 2 carrots * 1 handful of chives, finely chopped * 1 handful of parsley, finely chopped * 80g of parmesan * 150g of unsalted butter * vegetable oil, for frying * olive oil * sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper * 8 chicken thighs or drumsticks 1. Heat the oven to 180C, toss the chicken drumsticks in olive oil and roast for about 30 minutes, until golden and crisp. 2. Cut the pancetta into small dice and fry in a little oil until nicely coloured. Finely chop the onion and add to the pan, turning the heat down. Gently sweat for at least 15minutes until the onions have turned soft and sweet. Finely chop the garlic and add to the pan. 3. Rinse the barley for a few minutes under cold water, then add to the pan. Turn the heat up and stir for a minute, then add the white wine. Stir until the alcohol has boiled off, then turn the heat to medium and add your chicken stock, one ladle at a time, stirring frequently. 4. Cut the carrot into approx. 5mm dice and fry in some vegetable oil a separate pan until slightly caramelised and just cooked. Drain on kitchen paper. Quarter the mushrooms and do the same with them.

Chicken Caesar Salad Jack, John and myself often used to make this in our flat in Sheffield. It’s easy to rustle up pretty quickly, and if you make your own authentic caesar dressing as we did, it’s proper and delicious too. The dressing is key to this dish; it’s a super-enriched mayonnaise, packed with powerful savoriness from garlic, parmesan, anchovies and olive oil. The richness is balanced by a vital squeeze of lemon juice. We always used chicken breast, gently baked in the oven until just cooked, but I’ve switched to using leg now as the darker flakey meat has more flavour and a more pleasing rustic feel that is nicely suited to this dish. This salad provides a fantastic interplay of textures; balancing juicy shredded chicken with crunchy fresh leaves of lettuce and crisp bacon, all bound happily together by the glossy rich dressing. Extra crunch is given by lovely golden croutons. --- * 2 chicken legs * 2 baby gem lettuce * 4 rashers of dry-cured streaky bacon * 2 slices of thick white bread * 100ml of olive oil, plus a little extra for cooking * 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese, grated * 1 anchovy * 1 lemon * 1 egg yolk * 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped * sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper 1. Heat the oven to 180C. Rub the chicken legs with olive oil, season generously with sea salt and place in a roasting tin, then roast in the oven until the skin is crisp and golden and the meat falling off the bone. Remove from the oven, leave to cool slightly then pick the meat off the bone, shredding it to medium sized pieces. Keep the roasting juices from the tray, skimming and discarding any fat from the surface. 2. While the chicken is cooking, fry the bacon in olive oil until crisp, then cut into chunky lardons. Cut the bread into dice, then fry in olive oil, stirring constantly until light golden. Transfer to a tray lined with kitchen paper immediately to drain. Set aside. 3. Now for the dressing; finely grate the parmesan and place in a bowl with the egg yolk, anchovy, garlic and chicken roasting juices. Whisk (or use a blender) until all incorporated and smooth, then begin to add the olive oil, very gradually, until it is emulsified and you have a thick mayonnaise. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to taste, and a couple of tablespoons of water until you have a sauce-like consistency. Season with salt, if needed. Pick and wash the lettuce leaves, and to finish the salad, simply toss everything together with the dressing and throw in a bowl.

Chicken and Smoked Ham Pie Winter is coming and the time for hearty and warming stews topped with delicious golden crisp pastry is near. Pies! My mouth is watering at just the thought. I already wrote about pies when I did a series of posts on classic home cooking, namely my delicious steak pie and shepherd’s pie but I really felt that chicken pie needed to be added to the collection since this meat is so popular. I was thrifty with this dish, wasting nothing, as one always should when eating meat. I took one small bird and got maximum use from it, roasting the meat on the bone then using the carcass to make some stock. I then reduced this down to intensify the flavour and enriched it with sherry and a little beurre manié to make the gravy for the pie. This dish will take most of the day to cook, but I make no apologies for this. I hate to compromise flavour for the sake of saving time. In any case, there are few things that I enjoy more than spending all afternoon in the kitchen creating something delicious. I served it with some leeks sautéed in butter, and it was fantastic. --- * 1 free range chicken * 200g of smoked ham, cut into chunks * 50g of unsalted butter * 500g of puff pastry * some beurre manie * 2 handfuls of flat leaf parsley * 1 bunch of basil leaves * 1 sprig of thyme, leaves picked * 1/2 onion * 1 stick of celery * 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped * 100ml of dry sherry 1. Heat the oven to 180C. Soften the butter and using your fingers rub all over the chicken and in between the skin and breast meat. Roughly chop the basil and half of the parsley and also stuff this under the skin of the breast. Season liberally with sea salt and place the chicken in a roasting dish into the oven for about 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the meat is just cooked, tender and juicy basting with the juices and butter every 20 minutes. 2. When the chicken has cooled slightly, take all of the meat off the carcass and roughly chop. Set aside. To make the stock: Now break the carcass up into small pieces using a meat hammer or cleaver. Set a deep, thick bottomed pan over a high heat and pour in a couple of glugs of vegetable oil or rapeseed oil. Fry the chicken bones, turning occasionally, until they are uniformly golden brown. Add 1 carrot, the onion, celery and garlic and fry for a couple of minutes. Pour in enough cold water to just cover the bones and bring to the boil, skimming any froth or fat that rises to the surface. Simmer gently for 4 hours. 3. Strain the stock into a separate pan, add a glassful of dry cooking sherry and boil until reduced by 1/3. Take the 2 remaining carrots and cut into chunky dice. Cook these until tender in the stock while it is reducing, removing them with a slotted spoon once done. Whisk in a few pieces of beurre manié into the reduced stock until a nice gravy consistency is achieved. Stir in the remaining parsley and the thyme, roughly chopped, and add the carrots, chicken meat and smoked ham. Season carefully with salt and pepper, then leave to cool completely. 4. Now to build the pie: roll out the puff pastry to about 5mm thick. Pour the chicken mixture into a pie dish and drape the pastry over, pushing the edges down with a fork. Use the trimmings to decorate the top. Make two slits for steam to escape, then brush liberally with egg wash. Place in the oven at 180C until the pastry is nice and golden.

Coq au Vin I’ve been meaning to make a coq au vin for a while now. It’s a rustic French classic that is hard to beat as a crowd pleaser; a perfect marriage of ingredients that seem destined to accompany one another. Who could fail to adore this? Although these days it’s usually made with chicken (as I did), a traditional coq au vin is made with a mature cockerel. The meat from such a bird will be dark and rich in flavour compared to a young hen, but correspondingly tough as a result, meaning that it needs to be braised gently for a long time to make it tender. So I was looking forward to some tasty chicken slowly cooked in red wine… and to complete this classic dish, simply add small button mushrooms, baby pearl onions and some chunky dice of pancetta. Mmmm. --- * 4 free range chicken legs, separated into drumsticks and thighs * 850ml of red wine * 1 sprig of thyme * 1 bay leaf * 1 stick of celery * 1/2 leek * 2 carrots * 1 onion * 2 cloves of garlic * 20 buttom mushrooms * 100g of pancetta, cut into 1cm cubes * 12 baby pearl onions * some beurre manie * vegetable oil, for frying * sea salt and cracked black pepper 1. Separate the thighs from the drumsticks and place in a suitably sized tub or ziplock bag. Crush the garlic, then chop the carrot, celery, onion, and leek into rough 1cm dice and add everything to the chicken along with the wine, thyme and bay leaf. Leave in the fridge to marinate for 1 day. Put the chicken breasts aside for another recipe. Make a simple stock with carcass; crush slightly and snugly fit it into a medium-small pot. Cover with cold water and slowly bring to the boil, skimming any scum that rises. Simmer gently for 3 hours, then strain and discard the bones. Reduce the stock by half, and place in the fridge until needed. 2. Heat the oven to 180C. Transfer the chicken and it's marinade to a roasting tray, then bring to the boil on the stove top and simmer for 3 minutes to remove the alcohol. Place in the oven for about 45minutes, or until the meat is tender. 3. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan and cook the pancetta, onions and mushrooms over a high flame until nice and golden. Add the chicken stock to de-glaze, then simmer until the mushrooms and onions are just tender. Set aside. 4. When the chicken is cooked, remove from the tray and pat the skin dry with kitchen towel. Strain the braising liquid into a saucepan, and add the chicken stock poured off the from the mushrooms and shallots pan. Bring to the boil and reduce by about two thirds, until it is dark and rich. Season to taste, and thicken with a little beurre manié. While the sauce is reducing, crisp the chicken skin; in a frying pan heat some oil over a medium-low flame and brown the chicken, being careful not to burn it. The skin should be dark and caramelised. Serve with the mushrooms, shallots, pancetta and sauce poured over. Excellent with mashed potato or boiled new potatoes