Chicken is UK’s most popular meat and it’s very easy to prepareand cook. This Coq au Vin takes some slow cooking, but it’s worth the wait. Cook more because it can be frozen.
- 2 tbsp light olive oil
- 200g packet smoked lardons, or chopped streaky bacon
- 400g (14oz) shallots, peeled
- 30g (1oz) butter
- 6-8 chicken portions, or 1 chicken, jointed (see page 36)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 250g (8oz) chestnut mushrooms, halved
- 4 tbsp brandy
- 750ml bottle red wine, preferably Burgundy
- A few sprigs thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- For the thickening:
- 60g (2oz) butter, softened
- 2 level tbsp plain flour
- Salt and ground black pepper
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Set the oven to 180°C or Gas Mark 4. Heat the oil in a large pan, then add the lardons and fry until they start to crisp. Remove and drain on absorbent kitchen paper. Add the shallots to the pan, and cook for 5-8 mins, until they are golden. Remove and set aside.
Add the butter to the pan and heat until foaming. Put the chicken portions in the pan, skin-side down, pressing down and turning to brown both sides. Remove from pan and place in a large ovenproof/flameproof casserole dish.
Add the garlic and mushrooms to the pan and cook them for a few mins, then pour in the brandy and stir to mix in sticky juices at bottom of pan. Cook until almost all the brandy has evaporated. Pour in the red wine and bring the mixture to the boil.
Scatter the lardons and shallots over the chicken in the casserole dish. Place the thyme and bay leaves on top, then pour over the hot wine mixture. Cover the dish, put back in the oven and cook for 1¼-1½ hrs or until the chicken is tender. Set aside the meat.
To thicken the sauce, mix together the butter and flour, then place the casserole dish on the hob, and gradually add the butter mixture, stirring until the sauce has thickened. Season, then return the chicken to the pan. Garnish with parsley.
To freeze: Pack into a suitable freezer container and freeze for up to 1 month. Allow to defrost in the fridge overnight, then transfer to a covered casserole dish and heat thoroughly in a moderate oven before serving.