Chicken is probably my most favourite main dish and while there's a thousand ways to make it, this quintessential French recipe is the absolute best way to do it. This version is courtesy of Manu Fiedel, and has always left my dinner guests wanting more.
Serves 4 – 6
1.5 litres red wine
1 stalk celery
3 cloves garlic
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
6 chicken marylands (leg and thigh)
40 ml olive oil
40 g butter
12 pearl onions
200 g speck or bacon, cut into 1 cm lardons
500 g button mushrooms
100 ml brandy or cognac
2 Tbsp (15 g) plain flour
3 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
fresh parsley, chopped
Roughly chop carrot, celery and onion, bruise garlic cloves. Place aromatics in a large bowl with the bay leaf, thyme and chicken marylands, and cover with the wine. Refrigerate 4 hours, or preferably overnight, to marinate.
Next, drain the chicken, reserving wine, and discard vegetables. Pat chicken dry with paper towel.
Add oil and butter to a large heavy-based pot over medium heat. Add onions and bacon and cook for a few minutes to caramelise. Add mushrooms and cook for another 3 – 4 minutes until mushrooms start to turn golden. Spoon onions, mushrooms and spec into a separate bowl, leaving the oil in the pot.
Now, add marinated chicken to pan, skin-side down and leave for 3 – 4 minutes until it turns a dark golden colour. Return onions, mushrooms and spec to the pan with the chicken and add bay leaves and sprigs of fresh thyme. Sprinkle over flour and stir gently.
Next, add cognac and light to flambe, then add in the reserved wine from the marinade and cover with a paper lid to keep chicken submerged. Bring to the boil, then reduce to low and simmer for 1½ – 2 hours, until sauce has thickened and chicken is falling off the bone.
Serve chicken over mashed potato, with a generous ladle of onions, mushrooms, bacon and sauce. Top with parsley.