Sunday, 17 October 2010
I have posted the starter for my Peter's birthday party. Now let's move on to the main course. I've learned this recipe a long time ago, from an Irish friend called Caroline and reinvented it over the years. This is the latest version, but still bearing her name.
Ingredients for the meaty bits
2 or 3 pieces of chicken per person (breast or thigh off the bone, depending on personal preferences. I'm a thigh enthusiast and don't do breast)
1 or 2 rashers of smoked bacon per portion of chicken
Finely chopped garlic. (A little or a lot, depending on how much you like it)
A good sprinkling of dried oregano and parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
Ingredients for sauce
3/4 of a pint of milk (adjust depending on number of guests. You want a decent amount of sauce)
Generous amounts of grated cheese. I used Emmenthal, Comté and Parmesan, but it also works with Cheddar instead of the first two.
Dry white wine - 1 or 2 glasses, you decide
3 heaped teaspoons of cornflour (known in the US as cornstarch - it's the fine white stuff, not the gritty, yellow stuff used to make tortillas)
A knob of butter.
Salt and white pepper to taste (bear in mind that the cheeses and the bacon are already salty, so keep tasting and adjusting it as you go)
Season the chicken pieces with the garlic, herbs, salt (not too much, remember the bacon!) and pepper, drizzle with some olive oil, then massage all the pieces really well and leave to stand for a while (15 minutes or a bit longer will do). Shape the pieces into neat roundish shapes, arranging them artistically in an ovenproof dish, then wrap each piece with the bacon. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 180C/350F for approximately 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked and bacon is crispy. Transfer the pieces of chicken to another ovenproof dish (why did I bother to do it artistically the first time?) and return to the oven. Skim the oil from the resulting juices and proceed to make the sauce.
To make the sauce, dissolve the cornstarch with some of the milk, add the rest of the milk, the knob of butter, wine, the skimmed juices from above and the cheeses. Cook it gently stirring the sauce all the time. If too thin add more dissolved cornstarch, if too thick, add more milk or wine. Taste, adjust seasoning and pour over the chicken. Leave it in the oven for a few more minutes, sprinkle with some chopped parsley or chives (for colour) and serve.
I served this dish with roast potatoes, Julienne carrots and garlic mushrooms (sliced and gently fried in butter with lashings of finely chopped garlic and fresh parsley).
Whilst I enjoy cooking, I'm not a purist and cut corners by using cornstarch instead of making a proper roux with proper flour for sauces. If you're less lazy and more of a foodie, do it that way and you'll be happier with the results...
You will notice that all quantities are approximate. I have great difficulty following recipes and tend to cook by ear - whatever looks, tastes and feels right as I go along is just fine! Do experiment and adjust here and there until you're happy.
Our friends loved it and talked about it for days, so I'm not as chaotic as it seems...
The next installment will bring you the dessert, a cheat's version of Crème Caramel.
I cooked Caroline's Chicken tonight and took a photo: