A: So they wouldn’t be late for dinner. My dinner!
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Once upon a time, in a faraway land, a local newspaper invited me to nominate my ‘signature dish’, explain my choice and give them the recipe. It was 2003, and I had just become Chairperson of a community organisation that promoted the food and wine industries of the Great Southern, a leading agricultural region of Western Australia.
The dish I nominated was Coq au vin. I chose it because it was my go-to dish when hosting a dinner party and because I could obtain most of the ingredients fresh and directly from local producers, including premium cool-climate red wine and the first brand of free-range chicken produced in sizeable quantities in Western Australia.
I’ve never put that recipe on this blog, but only because, by the time I was writing posts about cooking, I had discovered the joys of making coq au vin with rooster rather than chicken. The story of that dish is here.
Now, jump to late 2016, when I shared the story of how Maggie and I had prepared a ‘deconstructed’ version of coq au vin using a whole spatchcock. We have used that method once or twice each year thereafter. But this winter has brought another change. We are very much in ‘streamlining’ mode, as we count down the months – 15 to 20 of them – before we move from our modest home to an apartment in a low-level complex being constructed not far from where we live now.
In the chicken department, ‘streamlining’ means that all of our cold-weather meals of chicken are being prepared using the ‘Maryland’ cut, ie the leg, or thigh-plus-drumstick. As well as being economical and flavoursome, Marylands are versatile; they can be roasted or they can be jointed into two pieces and braised or pot-roasted.
Our varieties of braised chicken Maryland dishes have include another simplified version of coq au vin. However, unlike our so-called ‘deconstructed’ version, this time we have taken pains to record quantities of ingredients as we go, to establish a recipe which will produce a consistently delicious meal.
Here is how we plate it up, followed by the recipe, which produces enough for two generous dinner servings.
1 tbsp brandy
125ml red wine
125ml chicken stock
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf (small if fresh)
1 sprig parsley
generous grind of black pepper
2 or 3 trimmed chicken Maryland pieces (recipe assumes a total weight of about 600g after obvious fat has been trimmed)
40g trimmed bacon, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
white part of a leek, halved lengthways then finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
60g button mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper
- Place brandy, wine, stock, herbs and black pepper in a small saucepan, cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Separate drumsticks and thighs and lightly brown the chicken pieces in the olive oil in a heavy-based oven-proof pan; set aside and season lightly.
- Add bacon to the pan, sauté for 5 minutes and drain on some paper towel. Wipe out the pan.
- Heat oven to 150C.
- Melt butter in the pan, add leek and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté for a further 5 minutes.
- Add bacon to the pan. Strain the contents of the small saucepan and add to the pan. Add the chicken pieces, bring dish to the boil, turn chicken pieces, cover with a lid and transfer to the oven.
- Bake for 40 minutes, turning chicken once or twice and adjusting seasoning after 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the oven off and place the chicken on an oven-proof dish.
- Place the chicken in the cooling oven. Simmer the sauce over medium heat, allow it to reduce a little. Lightly thicken the sauce to your own taste.
- Serve chicken pieces and spoon over with sauce.
Cheers for now!