My wonderful friend Helen bought this book for me when I left England to live in France.. she always picks out gifts that I totally love. It matches my Nigella Lawson kitchen bits and bobs so I had visions of it sitting elegantly on my chic kitchen shelf, just a reach away for when I had the urge to create a French culinary masterpiece....
...fast forward to real time and this little treasure has been packed away in storage for the last few years. The house took longer than planned to renovate and said chic kitchen went through various stages of not looking very chic at all. In its finished state it is rather gorgeous but the shelf I dreamed of is not quite big enough to house cookery books & instead boasts a couple of Alessi coffee makers and vintage tins
Finally I found the perfect excuse to pull out the book yesterday as we have friends staying for a few days. They had taken a couple of days to drive out from England and so I decided that a hearty but simple French meal was in order for their arrival. Something that would improve the longer it sat on the stove and that could be mopped up with hunks of fresh bread. I decided to serve up artichokes with lashings of butter & cracked pepper, followed by Coq au Vin
I've always had a 'thing' about the beauty of books and so I didn't have it in me to open the book wide and crease the spine; instead I delicately peeked inside and extracted the recipe bit by bit. Its a surprisingly easy dish to make... one that makes it look as though you've put alot more effort in that you actually did. Plus, it tastes delicious!
Coq au Vin for 4 people
- 1kg of free range chicken, in large chunks or jointed
- 100g of streaky bacon, diced
- 500g shallots, peeled but whole
- 250g button or chestnut mushrooms
- 2 tbsp brandy
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped or crushed
- 1 bottle of robust French red wine
- small bunch of thyme, parsley and bay leaves
- 1tbsp of unsalted butter
2 In the remaining butter, fry the chicken until they take a little colour, then sprinkle on the brandy and set alight to burn off the alcohol
3 Add the cooked bacon, shallots and mushrooms along with the garlic, wine and herbs. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 - 1.5 hours
4 Mix a small amount of butter and flour to make a paste, then slowly add to the sauce to thicken it slightly. Bubble up the sauce until slightly glossy
5 Serve with green beans, boiled potatoes and hunks of fresh bread to mop up the juices!
The book is sprinkled with sweet illustrations throughout.. perhaps I'll share them with you another time
p.s the other great thing about having guests.... is that the house is remarkably tidy!