On the changing of seasons


Our lime tree reminds me that we’ve been in the house for almost a year.

Meanwhile, it’s still cold and wet enough for Coq au Vin. My recipe is loosely based on Nigel Slater… loosely. But read what he has to say, it’s gospel.

I use drumsticks and thighs. A big pack, four drumsticks, four thighs, for four people.

For starters, peel about two dozen little onions (pickle onions, or whatever they’re sold as). Stick them on end in a black pot, with a bit of oil, and slowly caramelise. Turn them around, do the other side, etc. Remove to a plate.

Then the mushrooms — fry a punnet of white button or portbellinis in a bit of butter, remove to a plate.

Then fry bacon of some type. I use the thick rashers, cut into thin strips. Remove to a plate.

Now fry the chicken, in batches. I normally pull the skin off the thighs once it’s fried up enough to come loose easily. Remove to a plate.

Meanwhile you had a chance to chop up  a large onion, three or four carrots, and a stick of celery. And don’t forget the garlic. Stick that all in the pot for a while.

By now you’ll have a lot of gunk on the bottom of the pot, so open that bottle of red and deglaze. I like to use a cheap fruity red from the Worcester area — something that would never win awards but goes down well.

Put the chicken back in the pot, pour the rest of the wine in, add whatever herbs you fancy (a bouquet garni is a good idea). I generally find there’s no room for stock in the pot, but I guess you can toss in a stock cube if you want to (this is how I do it, please don’t blame Nigel Slater). Also add the onions and bacon back in at this stage.

When it starts looking almost done, put the mushrooms in.

Serve with mash. Lots of mash.