I’ve had this Nigel Slater recipe, courtesy of a blog called Simply Delicious, pinned On Pinterest for almost as long as I’ve had boards there. There’s just something about the blogger’s mouthwatering photo of the dish that made me long to a) make this, and b) in a lovely shallow Le Creuset. As I didn’t have a lovely shallow Le Creuset the recipe went unmade, but I’d look longingly at it on Pinterest every now and then, and then go and check the price of my object of desire in the vain hope there was a sale on. Patience finally paid off on Christmas day when Hubby managed to find one online for almost half price, so we splurged for it (it still wasn’t cheap!) and my beautiful new piece of cookware finally arrived this week. And I knew exactly how to christen it…
I love creamy white wine sauces. Once the alcohol burns off it leaves behind an awesome sweet note that just tastes of indulgence. And if there are mushrooms they always manage to soak that indulgence right up so that you get randomly intense hits of it whenever you bite into one. The chicken itself was perfectly tender and moist, which was a relief as we’d used chicken breasts rather than the acknowledged (and rightly so) more flavoursome thighs or legs.
Which reminds me!
Along with my lovely le crueset, I also got a fantastic Christmas present from an even more fantastic friend of a subscription to Cooks Illustrated – an American foodie mag – that had an article in it recommending that you start chicken and duck breasts skin side down in a cold skillet if you want properly crispy skin. It’s a French technique apparently, and gives the skin time to render its fat before the meat overcooks. I suspect I got impatient and turned my chicken too quickly, but even still the skin was definitely less soggy and sad than some of my previous attempts to brown it.
I’ve adapted the recipe to feed two to four by halving the ingredients in the original, so if you’re looking to make this for a larger group then it should happily scale up. And you don’t need a posh pan to cook it, a large frying pan should do just as well – I think a deeper sided pot like a stockpot, however, might now allow the alcohol to burn off as easily but that might just be me making stuff up (!)
We had this on rice which was absolutely perfect for soaking up all that delicious jup (an awesome Chinese word for sauce), not that my Chinese half is being biased or anything. And whilst January is supposed to be the month for under-indulging after the holidays, it’s miserable enough if you ask me without stinting on comfort food every once in a while.
Hubby had already requested this again before he’d finished his plate so it’s probably safe to assume this was a success! I’m giving at least half the credit for that to my lovely new Le Creuset 😉 If you fancy a look at Le Creuset’s beautiful casserole range, check their website out and prepare yourself for some serious cookware desire!
Coq au Riesling
Chicken and mushrooms in a lush white wine and cream sauce, comfort food in a French stylee.
Pop the butter and oil together in a large shallow pan or frying pan and while it's still cold place the chicken breasts skin side down. Turn the heat on and up to high and brown the chicken on both sides, then remove to a plate.
Turn the heat down to medium and in the same pan add the onions and bacon. Fry until the onions are soft and translucent and the bacon is browning nicely. Add the sliced garlic and fry for another 30-60 seconds before removing it all from the pan, tilting to leave as much as of the cooking fat behind.
Now add the mushrooms to the pan and fry for 5 minutes or so, until they've shrunk and started to brown. Then add the onion, bacon and garlic back into the pan. Season and give everything a good stir before popping the browned chicken on top, skin side up.
Add the wine and turn the heat up until it comes up to a boil. Give it a couple of minutes before turning the heat down so that the liquid is simmering. Cover and leave to bubble gently away for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, take the cover off and turn the heat up. Let it bubble madly for a couple of minutes and then taste. If it's still too boozy then let it bubble for another couple of minutes and taste again. Repeat until the alcohol has burned off (I probably needed 5 minutes or so) and season again if it needs it. Add the cream and cook for another 10 minutes, by which time the sauce should have thickened up a bit - if not, add a wee bit of cornflour mixed with cold water and stir through.
Finally, scatter generously with parsley and dish up.
Following my last post’s unusual tarragon and lamb combo comes a much more traditional one of tarragon and chicken, courtesy of my work chum Laura who tipped me off to this delicious recipe while we were raving about our mutual love of tarragon and James Martin, whose recipe this is. As you might expect from the cuddly host of Saturday Kitchen this dish doesn’t stint on the cream, but it’s absolutely luscious as a result and after one mouthful Hubby was already demanding that I make it again!
The only change I’ve made to Mr Martin’s original recipe was to halve the amount of chicken used so that we could have all that lovely sauce over rice for two 🙂 Hubby and I are a pair of ‘jup’ monsters after all…
It’s possibly one of a handful of supper recipes that doesn’t use onion and/or garlic which I have to admit gave me a wee cause for concern, but the wine base and the tarragon are so full of flavour that I didn’t miss the otherwise ubiquitous bulbs a bit. The lack of the usual vegetable prep work also makes this a really quick and easy supper to rustle up which, given how damn tasty it is, only makes this recipe better still!
Getting the chicken skin crispy on the hob is essential, not quite duck skin crispy but make sure it’s browning up nicely before it goes in the oven. The honey will do the rest of the work, not to mention adding a lovely sweet note to the dish without overpowering it.
Thanks again Laura, this one’s definitely a keeper 🙂
Chicken with a Tarragon Cream Sauce
Chicken in a too-easy-to-be-so-tasty tarragon cream sauce.
Get the oven on and preheat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
Place a roasting tin or shallow casserole over a high heat and brown the chicken breasts in a little oil, making sure the skin side starts to crisp. Season, turn skin side up, and pour over the honey.
Pop in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Turn the oven off, and then remove the chicken breasts to a plate and cover with foil before popping back into the now turned off oven to keep warm while you make the sauce.
Pour off any excess fat from the roasting tin (or shallow casserole) before placing on a high heat again. Add the wine, scraping the pan to make you sure you get all the lovely juices from the chicken, and bring to the boil. Reduce until the alcohol has all burned off and there’s only a couple of tablespoons of liquid left in the pan.
Add the stock and two sprigs of tarragon and bring to the boil again, until the stock has reduced by a third. Next, stir in the cream and bring to the boil again, allowing it to reduce a little before removing the sprigs of tarragon.
Finally, add the freshly chopped tarragon to the sauce and check the seasoning, adjusting if required, and then serve over the chicken.
I used to dislike mac and cheese with an unholy passion. It was at the top of my “things you couldn’t pay me to eat” list, together with fish pie and recognisable offal *boke!* To be fair, I’m not a cheese fan at the best of times (and yet the stinky cheese board always ends up next to me at dinner parties >.<) but I blame my almost obsessive contempt for the cheesy pasta on school dinners whose mac and cheese was utter utter utter foulness! It must have been made from a powder mix because it was always oddly gritty and a little watery. I don’t think I ever touched it again after leaving school, not even in a poshed up Italian restaurant “four cheese pasta” style. But you can’t be married to an American and avoid the stuff forever… So it was with huge trepidation that I agreed to let Hubby reintroduce me to this dish last year, and thank God I did because it is, quite honestly, one of my favourite things that he cooks for me now, much to his disbelief and amusement.
He also can’t leave well enough alone so it’s gone through several iterations, from a roux based sauce to a now wine based one (Hubby says – Thanks Heston!). Not that it tastes remotely boozy, the alcohol is well cooked off to leave just the delicious flavour of the wine behind which sets the mixture of cheeses up perfectly. Try it this way and I promise you’ll never do this with a roux again 🙂
"Boozy" Mac & Cheese
A classic American dish, updated with a wine based cheese sauce.
160g block of strong/sharp cheddar (Isle of Mull extra mature is our current fave)
60-100g block of Taleggio (or any full fat semi hard non-cheddar cheese, emmental or brie would also work)
100g Philadelphia cream cheese, full fat
250-350g fusilli or penne
500ml white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio work well)
500ml hot chicken stock
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tbsp corn flour (1.5 tbsp at a push)
1. Pour the white wine into the medium saucepan and place over a medium to high heat for about 10-15 minutes, until the wine has reduced right down to approx 50ml/quarter cup.
2. While the wine is reducing, roughly grate your blocks of cheese into a mixing bowl – if the non-cheddar is a softish cheese it might be easier to just tear it into small pieces. (Hubby says – This really can’t be too cheesey so don’t be stingy with the cheese, and if you have leftover bits of different cheddars taking up space in the fridge then mix them all in too). Sprinkle the corn flour over the grated cheeses and mix with your fingers until it’s thoroughly coated the cheese
3. Fill the large saucepan with water and place over a high heat until its boiling. Salt liberally before adding the pasta – you want to time this with When the wine looks to have reduced right down. Cook the pasta for 10 mins, or according to the packet instructions.
4. While the pasta is cooking, add the chicken stock to the wine reduction. Whisk gently and return to the boil. Once it’s bubbling away, add the grated cheese and cornflour to the wine/stock mix and stir slowly with the whisk until the cheese has melted right in. Add the Cayenne pepper too. Leave on a low heat while the pasta cooks.
5. Just before the pasta is ready, add the cream cheese to the wine/stock/cheese mixture and gently mix with the whisk until it’s all incorporated and looking like a happy cheese sauce. If the sauce doesn’t look thick enough at this point, mix a bit of cornflour with water and add to the cheese mix. A minute or two cooking should thicken the sauce nicely. Remove from heat.
6. When the pasta is ready (you’re aiming for al dente), drain, and then return the pasta to the saucepan it was cooked in. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta and mix well (if a film has appeared on the cheese mix while it was off the heat just whisk it back into the sauce first). Season with black pepper and mix again, and then transfer it all to your baking dish.
7. Cover the pasta with a bit more shredded cheese and put in the oven under the grill until the cheese is melted and nicely gratinated.
Also nice with a bit of shredded ham hock stirred through it if you don’t want something meatless.
Well, as fifi mentioned in her last post, Autumn is right upon our doorstep, and with it comes crisp air, the rich, musty scent of Autumn leaves, and warming food that sticks to your ribs. Count me in!
Being an American, cold-weather food for me will always have to include casseroles, and this is just one of many that I like to foist upon Fi. This one’s a bit different though; a result of a lot of tinkering with combinations, that owes a lot of its influences to Asian flavours, and on paper, doesn’t look like it should work. Trust me, it totally does, and you won’t be sorry to try it. Other Americans may be tempted to cover this with cheese (let’s be honest, it’s the go-to topper for casseroles) but, while tasty, it doesn’t need it at all. This manages to be tasty and fulfilling without needing a lot of heavy cream and the like. Give it a try, and let me know what you think!
Without further ado, then… time to get cooking!
Chicken, Mushroom & Broccoli Rice Bake
A delicious rice bake that is perfect for when the weather starts to turn.
2 medium leeks (one large white/yellow onion works too)
4-5 large portobello mushrooms
2 chicken breasts or 4-6 thighs (boneless and skinless all around)
1 small bottle (20 cl/1 cup) white wine – Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc both really suit this dish.
150 ml double (heavy) cream
1/2-1 tsp ketjap manis (or use dark soy sauce and add 1/2 tsp molasses or treacle, and mix well)
1/2-3/4 tsp Knorr chicken powder (optional, you can crush and fluff a chicken stock cube if you can’t find Chicken Powder)
couple of dashes of Maggi liquid seasoning (optional)
1 tsp Thai fish sauce
salt and pepper to season
1/2-1 tsp Tarragon (dry or fresh, but remember that fresh will be much more strongly flavoured)
oil or butter for cooking
1.5 cups of uncooked rice (long grain or Thai jasmine rice both work well, 2:1 ratio water:rice when cooking)
Other stuff you’ll need…
Wok or large frying pan
Shallow casserole dish or high sided baking tray
Rice cooker (Cooks rice perfect every time. If you don’t have one, you can cook it in a covered saucepan on stove top).
First things first, get your rice on. It’ll take about 45 minutes to cook through, in the measures given, which gives you plenty of time to get the prep done.
Pop the broccoli florets into a saucepan, and set them aside for now.
Next, finely slice your leeks (or onion), peel your mushrooms of their thick outer skin and remove the stems before cutting into slices, and cut your chicken into bite sized pieces.
On a medium flame, heat a wok or large frying pan before adding oil/butter (or drizzle a little oil over the butter, which will give you the best flavour while preventing the butter from burning). Now add the leeks/onions and season with salt (this, again, helps to stop them burning) before frying gently for 4-5 minutes, or until tender.
When the leeks/onions are cooked, add a bit more butter, and then add the sliced mushrooms. Season these with a little more salt (this helps to get the moisture out) and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
In the meantime, put the kettle on and preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
Retrieve your saucepan of broccoli florets and sprinkle on 1/2-3/4 tsp chicken powder (optional), 1tsp fishsauce and a splash of dark soy. From the kettle, add just less than 1/3 cup of hot water (the water doesn’t need to have just boiled). Cover, and steam, covered, on high heat for approximately 5 minutes.
While the broccoli is cooking, go back to the leek and mushroom mixture and add the wine to it before turning the heat up to medium/high. Reduce the liquid right down, until its about a quarter of the original volume. Stir now and again while it’s reducing down.
When the wine has reduced down, lower your heat to medium and add the chicken to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink.
By this time, the broccoli should have cooked for approximately 5 minutes, in which case turn the heat off but leave the lid on to steam cook the last of the hardcore crunch out.
Back to the wok, and season the chicken, leek/onion, mushroom and wine mixture with black pepper and approximately 1/2-1 tsp of tarragon, or to taste. Then add the double cream and stir everything in. Cook for an additional 2 minutes on a low heat before tipping in the broccoli, liquid and all. Add about 1/2-1 tsp of ketjup manis and a few dashes of maggi seasoning (optional) and stir the lot gently before turning the heat off completely.
Now add the cooked rice to the wok, and stir until the rice is evenly coated with everything. Ideally, you want the rice to be a bit wet with the sauce rather than bone dry, so you may not need to use all of the cooked rice.
At this point, transfer the rice mixture into a shallow casserole dish or a high side baking tray and use the back of a wooden spoon to spread it out to an even thickness. Cover the pan with tin foil and bake for 12-14 minutes. I find that covering the dish with foil helps to prevent it from drying out, and cooks it through more quickly.
This is a favourite mid week/Friday night supper dish, perfect for when you’re tired and want something quick and fairly easy to rustle up that doesn’t skimp on flavour or comfort 🙂 I think it must have started off as a Carbonara, but time (and bad influences!) have morphed it into the boozy creamy pasta it is today that probably shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as carbonara for fear of offending any passing Italians… But what this dish does have in common with Carbonara is that the sauce should coat the spaghetti and no more, rather than be something the pasta is swimming in.
What I really love about the sauce is how the wine gives it a slightly zingy note that really compliments the slight tang in the creme fraiche. For all that I call this a “boozy” sauce, it should be the flavour you taste rather than the alcohol.
And if you’re feeling particularly lazy (and who doesn’t mid week) you can sub cubed pancetta for strips, but I do think the strips work better. Streaky bacon also works if you can’t get pancetta strips, or if you just prefer bacon.
Spaghetti in a Boozy, Creamy, Pancetta & Mushroom Sauce
Wine, creme fraiche, pancetta - what more incentive do you need?
1/2 pack of mushrooms, diced (I prefer chestnut, and sometimes use the entire pack rather than just half...)
1 packet of pancetta strips
Small glass or miniature bottle (18.75cl) white wine (or buy a normal bottle of white wine, and drink the rest!)
2 generous tablespoons of half fat creme fraiche
Olive oil for cooking
1/2 pack of spaghetti
Salt and pepper to season
Parsley for garnish (optional)
Heat some oil in the frying pan and cook off the onions and garlic on a medium heat until the onions start to look transparent.
Add the mushrooms (you might need to add a little more oil if it starts to get a bit dry) and once they’ve cooked down too, remove the lot to a bowl.
In the same pan, add a little more olive oil and turn the heat up to high. Once the oil is heated up, throw in the pancetta. I don’t like my pancetta crispy for this dish but that’s a personal thing, so cook your pancetta to suit and once it’s how you like it add the onion, garlic and mushrooms back into the pan, season with salt and pepper, and then give it all a good stir.
Now add the wine. Once it starts to bubble, turn the heat down to medium and leave it to simmer for five minutes.
In the meantime, bring a large saucepan of salted water up to boil and once the five minutes is up drop your spaghetti in and cook per the packet instructions. This should give the wine in your sauce another ten minutes to reduce right down – you really don’t want there to be much wine/liquid left, just the lovely lovely flavour of it.
That said, don’t reduce it away completely! If after ten minutes there’s still a lot of liquid, turn the heat up and until there’s around 2 tablespoons worth of liquid in the pan.
This is when I usually grate up (or should that be grate down?) a very very generous amount of parmesan. It really is a component of the dish rather than a garnish, so don’t be shy. And I’d rather have too much of it than too little.
Just before your spaghetti is ready, stir the creme freche into the pancetta, mushroom and onions and warm through.
When your spaghetti is ready, drain, reserving a cup of the cooking water just in case, before adding it to the frying pan along with the grated parmesan.
Toss everything in the pan so that the spaghetti is coated with the sauce and melting parmesan. If it all gets a little claggy, add some of the reserved cooking water which should sort that right out.
Grind some black pepper over it, garnish with a little chopped parsley if you have any to hand, and dish up!
Delicious with a little home made garlic bread on the side 🙂 NOM!