Friday, March 18, 2011
I made chicken chasseur to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day. I know, I know it's a French bistro classic, redolent of the seventies and sleek dinner parties but my recipe comes from Cookery School - the cook book from the Channel 4 series of that name currently running most afternoons. The chef is none other than Richard Corrigan, a proud Irishman and extraordinarily talented chef. The show is great - and fast becoming a secret guilty pleasure.
There is a varied bunch of people who cook with different degrees of talent/competence and he takes them through three recipes each day, basic, intermediate and advanced, focussing on one ingredient. Food writer Gizzi Erskine oversees the process, highlighting techniques and explaining processes while wearing the most fabulous collection of sixties inspired frocks. The contestants watch Corrigan's demonstration, make notes and, after tasting his perfect version, must replicate the dish within a very specific time. As they struggle and panic he visits their cook stations, offering advice, demonstrating techniques and being at times really harsh about the food being produced. This is no mythically cuddly Oirish man but someone intent on raising the skill and realising the talent of his pupils. The whole point of the show is that they must demonstrably learn. Showing off is pointless. And it's that which I find fascinating.
Last night I made my first attempt at one of the recipes from this comprehensive book. Chicken Chasseur was from the advanced section and I suspect chef would be less than pleased with the slight modifications I made which would more realistically place it in the simpler categories. I had chicken in the freezer that the butcher had already jointed for me, but then their skill is so much greater than mine and it would be a shame not to utilise it.
The next alteration was to buy dried tagliatelle rather than make my own. Thing is, I used to own a pasta machine, and it did indeed make spectacularly wonderful pasta. But I was very very very slow, so while dinner is usually lateish round ours, if it was fresh pasta on the menu it was past bedtime before dinner was served. I got better, it's true, but never fast!
The final difference was unintentional and, it turned out, not too serious. I was convinced I had a bottle of Madeira, so sure in fact I didn't bother checking till I was actually cooking. Turned out it was Marsala. Oops. The final dish tasted divine so not a disaster. So good in fact that I have a sneaking suspicion Chef Corrigan would approve.
Not making my own pasta meant this was ready in less than an hour, so definitely one for the midweek repertoire
30g plain flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
20g unsalted butter
2 shallots, peeled and cut into quarters
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
175g chestnut msuhrooms, cut into quarters
3 tablespoons thyme leaves
200ml fresh chicken stock
100ml double cream
4 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon
Place the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper, then roll the chicken pieces in the flour.
Heat a large casserole pot and add half the butter and half the olive oil. Once hot, put in the floured chicken pieces. Cook over a medium to high heat for 4-5 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the chicken and leave to rest.
Put the other tablespoon of olive oil into the pot and add the shallots. Cook for 3 minutes until they begin to go soft. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms and thyme. Cook for a further 2 minutes.
Pour in the Madeira to deglaze the pan. Return the chicken pieces and add the chicken stock and passata. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
Just before serving add the cream and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Serve with tagliatelle, spooning on lots of delicious sauce, and garnish with the chopped tarragon.
Recipe extracted from 'Cookery School', brought to you by Channel 4 with recipes by Richard Corrigan. Published on the 3rd March (Penguin HB, £20)
The show is back next week if you fancy learning a thing or two!