Monday, 1 November 2010


The clocks have gone back, and I drove back from Waitrose in the dusk. I had to remind myself to turn the headlights on as I left the carpark. It was pitch dark outside by house by 5.30pm. The evening air, when I opened the front door to let the cats out, smelt of damp leaves and bonfires.

This recipe, which I will call Coq au Cidre, since it's a take on coq au vin, with the wine replaced with cider, was in an article on slow-cooked food by Nigel Slater in The Observer Food Monthly supplement a couple of weeks back. The apple flavour of the cider gives it a lovely, autumnal flavour. The addition of potatoes and mushrooms make this a one-pot dish, though Nigel suggests steamed brown basmati rice as an accompaniment.

Serves 4

chicken 1, jointed into 8 pieces, or 8 chicken thighs, skin on
butter or olive oil 30g
olive oil 1 tbsp
small chestnut mushrooms 250g
small potatoes 400g
cider 500ml
double cream 150ml
dill a small bunch

Melt the butter in a casserole, add the oil then, when it starts to sizzle, put in the chicken. Season with salt and pepper and fry until the chicken is pale gold on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Cut the mushrooms in half or quarters depending on their size and add to the pan. Let them soften, adding more butter or oil if necessary. Halve or quarter the potatoes. Add them to the pan and leave till lightly coloured, then pour in the cider. Return the chicken to the pan and bring to the boil, lower the temperature and simmer gently.

Leave the chicken to cook, covered with a lid, for 30-45 minutes or until it is cooked right through.

Stir in the cream and chopped dill, wait a moment or two, then serve.

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