Time to share my favourite ever recipe. I’ve made this for family, a dozen friends at a time or just for tea midweek and it was the first meal I ever cooked for my better half.
It takes a little while in the cooking, but it’s so easy to prepare and the end result – rich, wine-infused chicken casserole – is the sort of dish that reminds you that the humble chicken really can be amazing. I’m also lucky that I get easy access to such good free range chicken at my local market in Roath which makes a big difference to the end result.
If you’re doing it midweek, you need to get home on time as it’s a two hour cooking time – it’s do-able but much easier for a weekend treat.
Either joint a chicken or buy a mix of thighs and legs – this is usually the best option as everyone gets the same then and you also get much better flavour from meat on the bone.
Put the chicken pieces into a bowl and cover with about half a bottle of red wine to marinate with a bay leaf, peppercorns and few cloves of garlic in the fridge. I try and remember to do this in the morning if I’m cooking it in the evening but the recipe works if you forget this stage and start with the cooking.
In a casserole over a medium heat, brown the chicken in batches of three or four pieces at a time and set aside. In the fat that’s left, fry some lardons (cubed pancetta, streaky bacon or I even used a slice of leftover gammon last week) until the fat has turned nice and crispy. Remove to a dish.
Now fry some peeled whole shallots in the bacon/chicken fat until brown. All of this is building up lovely layers of flavour for the finished dish. Once starting to brown, add some button mushrooms and a chopped clove of garlic and fry for a few more minutes.
The kitchen should now smell pretty awesome.
Add the chicken and bacon back to the pot and pour in the strained wine marinade. Once this has got up to the boil add about a pint of chicken stock.
If you have some herbs to hand, tie up some thyme, parsley and bay and add them to the liquid before popping the pot in the oven at about 170degC for at least an hour – probably and hour and a half.
The sauce will reduce to a rich, winey gravy that takes on all the flavours of the sweet shallots, bacon and chicken.