Tag Archives: white wine

Ni Dauphinoise, Ni Boulangere

A dish of potatoes gratin. Neither a dauphinoise nor a boulangere, but something in between.

Neither one thing nor the other, but combining something of the best of both.

My love affair with pommes dauphinoise began, romantically enough, with late night assignations in a deserted hotel kitchen. Whilst all around us slept I’d sneak into the darkened larder and by only the light leaking from the fridge door would sate my starchy desires with a mouthful of chef Maggie’s magical combination of potato and cream.

Since the cardiac kerfuffle of a year ago though I’ve done my best to curb my cholesterol and more often opt for a boulangere, where the potatoes and onions cook slowly in stock rather than cream. But then I thought why choose, when you can combine the two without completely clogging your arteries?

  • 2 large potatoes, sliced 1mm thin on a mandolin
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • A glass of wine or vermouth
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • A bruised clove of garlic
  • 2 good tablespoons of half-fat creme fraiche

Add the wine, garlic and rosemary to the stock and reduce by about a third. Layer the potatoes and onion in a gratin dish, seasoning well with salt and pepper between each layer. Whisk the creme fraiche into the hot stock, and strain this over the potatoes. Cover with a cartouche of baking paper or foil and bake at 160°C for an hour and a half, then uncover and cook for a further half hour. Allow to rest for five minutes before eating.

You can of course make a vegetarian version by using vegetable stock, in which case you probably won’t want to eat it with lamb ‘lolipop’ cutlets, with which it eats very well!

Thyme and Tonka Bean Chicken

Tonka Beans, in a square white bowl, with shadow.

Did I mention already that I think the combination of thyme and tonka bean tastes like tarragon? Not exactly like tarragon – if that were the case it would be easier just to use tarragon! – but a grassier, less aniseedy version. They’re beautifully versatile little buggers these tonka beans, with a vanilla-like freshness that works just as well in sweet dishes [like my Christmas Pudding Ice Cream] as it does with chicken and fish. I swear I detected some yesterday too in the Pork Pibil which I had at Wahaca’s Southbank porta-cabin pop-up, though the recipes I’ve found online make no mention.

I’ve used the pairing here to update a recipe which I first shared in My St Margarets Magazine a couple of years ago. And I’ve changed the method too to produce an easy, prepare-ahead dish for summer entertaining, not least because I know the Lakeland Taxi Driver has a lunch party for twelve this Sunday! This version comfortably serves six, I’m sure you can do the maths. A recent road test played to rave reviews in a packed garden, hopefully your guests will feel the same.

For the chicken

  • A 1.5-1.7kg bird, and a lidded pot into which it fits snugly
  • A large bunch of thyme
  • One onion, finely sliced
  • 300ml white wine
  • 1/3 of a tonka bean, grated with a micro-plane or nutmeg grater
  • Sea salt and black pepper

For the mayonnaise*

  • 1 large egg yolk, and 1 large whole egg
  • 350ml groundnut oil
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of Dijon mustard
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsps white wine vinegar

Prepare and cook the chicken as per my recipe for Pot Roast Chicken Veronique [ignore the bit about the Verjuice syrup for this recipe]. Don’t forget to season the bird well, inside and out. Grate the tonka bean over the chicken before you pour over the wine. When the chicken is cooked set it aside to cool. Strain the cooking juices and reduce to one third of their original volume. Let this cool too.

To make the mayonnaise blitz the egg, yolk, salt and mustard in a food processor. Then with the motor running start to add the oil – drop by drop to begin with, then in a thin stream, and then as the sauce emulsifies and begins to bulk up you can increase your rate of pouring. Add the vinegar to the finished mayonnaise with the motor still running. I’ve only just started making mayonnaise and now I can’t stop! It’s proper magical kitchen alchemy, and nowhere near as scary as everyone makes it out to be.

*If you don’t plan to make your own mayonnaise please use a decent ready made one – this really is no time for bog standard factory nonsense!

Roughly tear the flesh from the legs, breasts and back of the bird and scatter into a dish. Take a couple of small ladles of the reduced juices [about 60 ml] and mix into the mayonnaise, and taste. If you feel it needs more, add some. And perhaps add another small shaving of tonka bean, but do it with a light hand, if at all. The flavour could easily dominate, and will build as the dish rests.

Coat your chicken with the enriched mayonnaise, stir well, cover and refrigerate overnight. To serve give it half an hour or so out of the fridge, and decorate with some chopped parsley, a grind or two of black pepper, and some lemon slices – or some watercress, or perhaps pea shoots. It will need a little garnish as although it’s delicious it can look a tad monotone without. This deserves to take centre stage, so make sure it’s dressed to impress!

Risotto of Peas, Mint and Paski Sir [with or without leftover lamb!]

Another risotto, but a traditionally made one this time – albeit with a less than traditional ingredient in the form of Paški Sir, of which more later. For a vegetarian version omit the lamb and use vegetable stock.

 Paski Sir, a Croatian ewe's milk cheese

Since my old friend Geoff first taught me to make a proper risotto in his tiny Battersea kitchen some twenty odd years ago I’ve always found it a really gratifying way to spend twenty odd minutes of my time. It does demand your 100% attention for a while but your efforts are repaid many-fold, and the constant, controlled stirring and the slow addition of stock have a meditative rhythm all of their own.

Paški Sir is a hard ewe’s milk cheese from Croatian island of Pag, and we think it’s quite a discovery. The cheese has the sweetness of sheep’s milk, hints of the herby meadows where the sheep graze, and gains further complexity by being rubbed with olive and ash before maturing. Last time I checked yellowwedge cheese was one of only two UK stockists but after its recent success at the World Cheese Awards [winning the Barber’s Trophy for Best New Cheese] I’m pretty sure that there will soon be plenty of others.

Use a good flavourful stock for this dish, perhaps reduce one you already have until further intensified. I had a bulb of roasted garlic to hand and added this to my stock for its sweetness and depth of flavour.

The leftover lamb is not essential, and if making a vegetarian version clearly you’ll want to leave it out, but I had some leftover shank from an earlier braise and the other ingredients – peas, garlic, mint for heaven’s sake – seemed to be crying out for it. And as I had hoped it worked well with the Paški Sir, but then ewe’s milk cheeses do have an almost incestuous affinity with lamb. If you don’t believe me trying following your next roast lamb dinner with a cheese board of Wigmore, Beenleigh Blue and Paški Sir [or Manchego if you can’t get hold of any]. If you are using it tear and / or chop the lamb into small slivers and nuggets. Be sure to do this and all the other prep before you start.

The shopkeeper has a deep seated aversion to re-heated lamb [I have not been able to cook proper shepherd’s pie at home for over 15 years!] and there was much grumbling and muttering about potential take-aways during the preparation, but in the end the entire bowlful disappeared without complaint. It may even have been enjoyed.

Easily feeds two, especially when one of them doesn’t want any in the first place

  • 175g risotto rice
  • 60g butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, or a couple of skinny ones, crushed
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1.5 tsps mint sauce
  • 200g frozen peas, defrosted
  • 750ml of good chicken or vegetable stock [see above]
  • 75ml vermouth or white wine
  • 120g leftover lamb [optional]
  • 120g Paški Sir, two thirds finely grated and one third coarsely grated or shaved into ribbons

Melt the butter and add the onions, some salt and about a teaspoonful of the mint, the rest of which will be added towards the end. Sauté over a low to medium heat for 10 minutes until softened, adding the garlic for the last two minutes. Meanwhile heat the stock in another pan and hold at a barely trembling simmer. Add the rice to the softened onions, stir well to coat with the buttery juices and give it minute or two more.

Turn up the heat under the risotto pan and add the vermouth. Stir constantly, around and in a figure of eight, exposing the hot base of the pan where the returning liquids will turn to steam and cook the rice. Once the liquid has all but disappeared add a ladleful of hot stock and repeat. Continue in this manner for around 15 minutes.

Test a grain or two of rice between your teeth, it should be almost cooked with a bit of crunch still at the core. If not continue as above, testing after each ladleful of stock has been absorbed. Now add the lamb, and a ladle or two more of stock. With the last addition of stock add the mint, parsley, peas, mint sauce and finely grated Paški Sir.

The risotto is ready when the rice is just al dente and the consistency is creamy and moist, usually after around twenty minutes. If necessary add a final dose of stock, turn off the heat and allow to rest, covered with a clean tea towel. Check the seasoning, you’ll want plenty of black pepper, top with the rest of the Paški Sir, and serve.

Peas and Mint

Chicken Stock

Chicken Stock

There is no more heinous waste-crime in my book [and it’s quite a thick book, but this one is written in red, and underlined] than to throw away the remains of a roasted bird before they have visited the stockpot. I once went for Sunday lunch with a large group of friends to a pub which served whole roast chickens to share, and insisted that the resulting five carcasses be wrapped and bagged for me to take home – there was chicken stock in the freezer for weeks! Age of austerity or not, there’s no way you should just bin those bones.

  • The carcass, skin and any juices / jelly / trimmings from your roast bird
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • A glug of white wine / vermouth / brandy / dry sherry
  • Salt
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • Bay leaves
  • Any other herbs of your choosing

Firstly place your carcass etc. in the pan and turn up the heat for a while before adding any of the other ingredients. The skin and bones will start to sizzle and spit and release their aroma and flavour. Now throw in your choice of booze and allow this to quickly bubble away. Vermouth and wine [the end of last night’s bottle is fine] work well, brandy gives good depth of flavour to the finished stock, or chose something else if you have a specific job in mind for the stock. For instance when making the chicken, garlic and brie pie posted here I used a fino sherry which on its own partners very well with brie, and I wanted to see if they got along just as well here[*].

Throw in the holy trinity of aromatic veg, the onion, carrot and celery, and give all a good stir. The choice of herbs is also dependant on what you want to do with the finished article but I always add a bay leaf or two and some parsley stalks if I have them lying around, which of course you do if you’re using the leaves elsewhere! Again when making the pie I knew there’d be thyme involved some added some to the stock too. There’s no need to spend time making neat little bouquets garnis with the herbs, you’ll be straining everything through a sieve so just plonk everything in the pot. Pop in the peppercorns and a generous helping of sea salt then add enough boiling water to submerge the contents of the pan and return to the boil. Skim off any scum which floats to the surface and having reduced the heat allow this to simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour.

Taste your stock as you go and don’t be scared to up the seasoning until the flavour is as you want it; if you’ve ever been disappointed by the flavour of a homemade stock the most likely cause is excessive caution with the salt. After an hour the solids will have done their work and you can strain off the liquid and discard them, but for additional richness and intensity you can continue to reduce the stock if you wish. And there you have it – the starter for soups, risottos, sauces and so on – for not much more than an hour of your time, the price of a few vegetables, and some leftovers which would otherwise be wasted. And you won’t have me turning on your doorstep and waving that book!

[*] They did!

Chicken, Garlic and Brie Pie

A whole Brie in its box

Does this sound just a tad odd to you? It did to me too when I first purchased it from one of my favourite pie makers, but it works like a dream [if you dream of succulent savoury pies that is – and who doesn’t?]. So I’ve pinched the idea from them but in the absence of a detailed recipe on the label have had to construct my own. The original was a full short-crust pie affair but I bought a packet of ready-made puff and lazily draped it over the top. I make no apologies, that’s my kind of pie. And this is one of those great ways to use up your leftover roast chicken, in fact it’s a good excuse to cook more than you need in the first place!

For two or three – depending on how hungry you are:

  • ½ a small leftover roast chicken [my original bird weighed around 1.4kg], meat roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 140g Brie de Meaux
  • 1 dessert spoon plain flour
  • 170g standard closed cup mushrooms, cut into 1/2 cm dice
  • 350ml chicken stock made from the carcass of the bird – see separate post
  • 4 tblsp double cream
  • 1 good glug of pale sherry, white wine or vermouth [this may depend on what went with on with the stock (see above) but feel free to go where your heart takes you], plus a good glass of wine for the chef
  • A small sprig of thyme
  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 egg

Sauté the onion in a little olive oil until softening nicely. Add the garlic, mushrooms and thyme, and cook for a few minutes more. You can pick the leaves from the thyme if you have time [do you see what I did there?], or you can tie it with string, bruise the bunch between your palms and toss it in the pot for later retrieval, which is easier. Add the flour and stir for a few minutes more without allowing it to catch. Now’s the time to add the sherry / wine / vermouth and, after a brief bubble and stir, the stock.  Return to a simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, and allow to thicken slightly before introducing the chopped chicken to warm through thoroughly, and then the cream. You may find that the large surface area of the multitudinous chicken pieces causes the sauce to become thicker than you’d thought – if so just add a little more stock but remember that you will want the base to have some body, so don’t overdo it. Having removed the thyme bouquet [if using] tip all the rest into a suitably sized pie dish, and as it cools slice your Brie into chunky slivers and distribute them evenly, tucking them into your saucy base. Now is the time to  take your chef’s glass of wine and relax somewhere for 10 minutes whilst your pie filling does the same – you’ve been working hard, you deserve it…

Back in the kitchen? Top your pie dish with the pastry and use any trimmings to make leaves [classically], diamonds [very 70’s revival], hearts [if, and only if, you’re about to propose] or whatever shapes your imagination suggests, place these on top, and brush with the beaten egg. There may be some slight spillage around the edges so sit the pie dish on a tray and place into the middle of a preheated 220˚C oven for 25 minutes. Please resist the temptation to peek for at least the first 20 minutes, which will be more difficult than it sounds, but a puff pastry can easily sulk if it isn’t given enough privacy in the early stages of its development.

I first served this with cauliflower cheese [another leftover from the day before] which turned out to be a mistake – too rich and too many competing flavours. I would recommend some simply mashed potatoes [butter, milk, a pinch of nutmeg] and some peas or other greens. The pie should have the space to sing with just a competent supporting cast who don’t attempt to grab the limelight.

Brie de Meaux

Pot Roast Chicken Veronique

Pot Roast Chicken

A new twist on an old French classic. Ever since I found my first and very versatile recipe for pot-roasting chicken it has become my absolute method of choice for cooking a whole bird. You end up with meat as moist as if it were poached but with the full roast flavour, and a quantity of delicious chickeny flavoursome juices to use as they are or to treat to some onward embellishment – as here. I’ll be serving just the breasts of the chicken tonight with the velvety cream and grape sauce, so there will be plenty of luscious leg meat and a carcass to play with tomorrow.

  • 1 x 1.6kg chicken
  • 1 onion very finely sliced
  • A couple of peeled and bruised garlic cloves
  • 1 small bunch of thyme
  • 300ml white wine
  • As many white grapes as you fancy in your sauce, I went for 20 [c.100g]
  • 150ml single cream

Preheat your oven to 190˚C. Lay a single thin layer of sliced onion over the base of a heavy lidded pot which will comfortably accommodate your chicken.  Season the chicken cavity and then cram in  the bunch of thyme. This is another benefit of pot roasting; both bird and juices can be imbued with the flavour of your chosen herbs with no tiresome picking or chopping [perhaps a little bruising] by simply shoving a bunch of whatever it is up the poor beast’s bottom.

Sit the chicken on its scant mattress of onion, push the rest of the sliced allium and the bruised garlic around the sides, pour over the wine and season with salt and pepper. Place the pot on the hob and heat until simmering, then place the tight fitting lid on top and give it 45 minutes covered in the oven.  After the first ¾ of an hour take off the lid and return uncovered to the oven for a further 45 minutes. With 10 minutes of cooking time to go I brushed the exposed surfaces of tonight’s bird with some caramelised Verjuice syrup to give additional flavour and golden brown lustre to the skin. These timings have never failed me for a foul of this size but you can use the usual ‘juices running clear from the thickest part of the thigh’ test to be sure.

Carefully remove the chicken [the cavity will be full of liquid and the tender wings will likely fall away] and allow it to rest, covered loosely with foil. As it rests reduce the cooking liquor by a third to a half, then add the cream and allow this to bubble and thicken slightly. However intense the cooking juices seemed this will have been mollified considerably by the cream so check and adjust the seasoning. A splash of white Verjuice around now wouldn’t go amiss either [sadly my bottle was empty]. Finally add the grapes and allow them to heat through.

The pot-roasted bird will be very moist so carve on something which can catch the juices, serve your choice of cuts and pour over the sauce.  This is relatively rich so keep the accompaniments simple. We had steamed green beans and some minted new potatoes with a knob of mint butter, which you can gently crush into the creamy, grapey sauce on your plate.