This is a dish that has appeared in a number of my posts, and seems to be reasonably well liked judging by reaction, so I thought I’d put it up as a recipe.
I find there are quite a few good things about it:
- It’s very tasty, and looks great when you present it.
- It’s a relatively quick way to cook a whole chicken. It’s faster than roasting, doesn’t need 45 minutes resting time once it’s out of the oven, and doesn’t leave your oven covered in splatters of cooking fat.
- It can easily be varied - the principle behind the cooking remains the same, but you can change the ingredients to suit availability and need.
- It keeps the breast meat moist while cooking through the leg. This is particularly important if you substitute a guinea fowl for the chicken - guinea fowl has a great flavour, but goes dry and tough all too easily if you’re not careful.
- It’s remarkable easy.
(The slighly odd-looking breast is not due to the cooking. We bought the chicken at a French market, and they made a bit of a meal of removing the head…)
- A large, flameproof casserole with a tight fitting lid. It will have to take the whole chicken.
- 1 free range chicken, 1.5-2kg. It’s simply cooked, so get the best quality you can.
- 1 medium onion, chopped.
- 15g dried mushrooms, soaked, drained, and retaining the soaking water. I like to use morels, but they can be expensive; other types are fine.
- 1 dessert spoon plain flour.
- 0.5 bottle dry white wine. I always use riesling.
- 150ml double cream.
- Salt and pepper.
- A little vegetable oil.
- Preheat the oven to 150C, gas mark 2.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in the casserole over a medium heat, and brown the chicken on all sides, making sure to get some colour on the thighs and the breast.
- Remove the chicken, turn the temperature down, and soften the onion and mushrooms for a few minutes. Add the flour, and stir to incorporate it with the fat.
- Add the white wine and mushroom water, and bring to the boil. Put the chicken back in the pot, breast side up, cover with the lid, and place in the oven.
- Cook for around 1 hour - a little longer for a big chicken, a little shorter for a small one. Check a couple of times during cooking - the liquid should be gently bubbling. Add a little more water or wine if it appears to be getting dry.
- Remove from the oven, remove the chicken from the pot, and put on a preheated serving dish. Put the pot back on the heat, and reduce the liquid a bit if necessary - it should be just a nice sauce consistency. Add the cream and stir to incorporate, correct the seasoning if necessary, and bring back to the boil.
- Pour some of the sauce over and around the chicken, and decorate with a few mushrooms. Serve the rest of the sauce and mushrooms separately.
- Bacon and fresh mushrooms. Don’t use the dried mushrooms. Rather than use vegetable oil, start by frying cubes of bacon/pancetta, remove them, and use their fat to brown the chicken. Put them back in the pot to cook with the chicken. Separately, slice and sauté some fresh mushrooms, and add them to the sauce at the end.
- Baby onions. Rather than chopped onions, use whole peeled baby onions/shallots.
- Guinea fowl. This is a great way to cook a guinea fowl, which always has a great taste.
- Vin jaune. If you’re feeling like a luxury version, use vin jaune for your wine. Pour a splash of wine over each serving as you put it on your guests’ plates (it really transforms it!)