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Fried, Roasted or Stewed

The title of this post combines two of my great favourites: chicken and musicals. I do love a good song about food and "Food Glorious Food" from "Oliver!" is enough to make even the fullest of people salivate (or wish they were listening to something else).

My love of musicals, much like my cooking skills, comes from my mother. I don't know why, it could be the worst musical in the world, but if it's on tv, my mum is captivated right through until it ends. I remember channel surfing years ago and "The Slipper and the Rose" was on, so of course we had to watch it. It may only be two hours long but it felt like an eternity. I love a good princess story but I would not force anyone to watch that.

There are some great musicals that talk about food though. Have you ever had schnitzel with noodles, for example? Interestingly, I have. Technically speaking it's schnitzel and spaetzle, which doesn't rhyme with the rest of the verse so Rodgers and Hammerstein made it work another way. Spaetzle is a pasta-like accompaniment to meals in the south of Germany, Austria and the surrounding region. It's really soft and good for soaking up sauce the way potatoes are.

I feel like some European foods are really exotic. How often will someone you know make a big pot of goulash to feed a crowd in the winter? Or, how excited do you get when you find fresh pierogi on a menu or in a supermarket. I may be alone here but considering how adventurous Britons have become in the styles of food they make, it tends to be cultures further away that they tap into. Have you ever had a Swedish meatball outside of Ikea?

One thing my mum used to make relatively often when we were growing up was coq au vin. She liked the comfort of it (it's basically a chicken stew) and we never complained, particularly when it was done with roast potatoes. Living in Abu Dhabi, some of the ingredients were harder to come by - wine and bacon for example - but now they are pretty much accessible anywhere if you know where to go.

Mum claims that I stole her roast potato recipe (I didn't, Mum, you stole mine) so this recipe is being credited as hers.

Lorna's Coq au Vin

  • 8 chicken thighs, skinned (you can leave it with or without bones)

  • 100g butter

  • 1tbsp olive oil

  • 200g lardons

  • 2 large onions, diced finely

  • 300g mushrooms, sliced

  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 2 tbsp flour

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 tbsp dried thyme or 3 fresh thyme sprigs

  • 2 sprigs sage, leave chopped, stalks discarded

  • 1 1/2 cups red wine

  • 2 cups chicken stock

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Heat 50g of the butter in a casserole dish until it's just starting to brown and add the olive oil. When the oil has heated, add the chicken in batches and brown it on both sides. When all the chicken is done, set it aside on a plate and add the onion and garlic to the casserole dish.

When the onions are starting to soften, add the lardons and cook them until they're well done and most of the fat has been rendered out. Then remove everything from the dish and put it back on the heat.

Add the rest of the butter to the pot along with the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms well until they are a nice golden colour. Add more fat if you feel you need to. When the mushrooms are done, add the onion mix back to the dish and stir in the flour. Add the wine, stirring to get rid of any lumps of flour, then add the stock.

Return the chicken to the pot. Add the herbs, carrots and seasoning to the pot and bring it to the boil. Cover the pot with a lid and place it in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Serve your coq au vin with roast potatoes and green veg or rice and drizzled with salsa verde. I guess you could try it with spaetzle too.


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