Like most French recipes most people think this will be difficult to make, horrifically expensive and very fiddly to make, but trust me ” mon petit choux” this is simplicity itself, even my half witted assistant “Mr Pickles” (see below for a photograph of my little furry friend!) with no culinary skills whatsoever can make this and, of course, producing a true French meal will improve your social standing, win friends and influence people and increase your legendary status to almost mythical proportions!
Ok maybe I exaggerate slightly, but I can guarantee that you will impress everyone who tries this dish.
If you are happy with jointing a chicken, then fine, otherwise buy ready jointed, either way buy the best you can afford.
Cooking time: 30 minutes to prepare, cooking 45 to 60 minutes
Serves: 2 -4 people
- 4 large chicken portions or a medium sized chicken, jointed into 8 pieces
- 55g / 2oz butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 115g 4oz smoked bacon pieces or lardons (try asking your local deli if they have any end pieces of Serrano or Parma ham)
- 115g / 4oz baby onions or 1 large onion cut into eight portions through the root (holds the onion together whilst cooking)
- 115g chestnut or button mushrooms
- 2 large garlic cloves – roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp plain / all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp brandy
- 225ml / 8 fl oz red wine (a nice Burgundy is perfect for this dish)
- 300ml / 10 fl oz chicken stock
- 1 bouquet garni*
- salt and pepper
- Bay leaves
- Parsley – curly or flat leaf whichever you prefer
First, as always get yourself prepared:
Put a damp cloth under a chopping board
Get yourself a bowl for the discarded vegetable and meat scraps and place it next to the chopping board (saves trying to work wrist deep in rubbish and a lot easier to clean up!)
Place everything you need in easy reach, much easier than rummaging around in the middle of cooking
- Heat up a frying pan and when it becomes hot (not too hot and not before!) add the olive oil and half the butter, this should bubble nicely, so add the chicken portions skin side down and allow to brown well on both sides. Don’t try to cram all the chicken portions into the pan at once as they won’t brown well, if necessary do them in two goes. Put them into the casserole.
2. Brown the onions (adding more oil if necessary). If you have chopped up a large onion into sections, then brown on one side and carefully turn over and brown the other side. Add to the casserole dish.
3. Add the carrots, bacon pieces / lardons, mushrooms and garlic to the pan and brown all over. When this is done pour in the brandy and set it alight – be careful, singed eyebrows dropping into the pan are not part of the recipe!
4. Stir in the flour and a drop of the stock (to stop the flour sticking to the pan and burning) and stir well, add more stock if you need to ie. if the sauce thickens too much and stir carefully for 5 minutes to allow the flour to cook.
5. Stir in the rest of the stock, wine, bouquet garni, bay leaves, parsley stalks (save the leaves for later) and salt and pepper to taste
6. Put the lid on the casserole dish and simmer gently for around 45 minutes while you have a well earned taste of the red wine (go on treat yourself, you didn’t use all of the bottle did you?)
7. When the chicken is cooked, hopefully the sauce will be thick enough, if not remove the chicken pieces and keep warm, then turn the heat up slightly and reduce the liquid until you are happy with the consistency. Now stir in the rest of the butter to give the sauce a glossy finish.
8. Sprinkle with the chopped parsleyServe with mashed potato and green beans