Monday, February 6

Chicken braised with Dijon, Fennel and Tarragon

This is my take on a French brasserie classic, 'lapin a la moutarde' or 'rabbit with mustard' for the hard of French. I have added fennel and tarragon to the mix as they work extremely well with chicken and used together accentuate their natural aniseed flavour. Buy a small whole chicken and joint into 8 pieces (breasts in half, drumsticks separated from thighs - all on the bone). You can ask your butcher to do this for you - ask him to portion the chicken for fricassee.  Serves four:

1 free range chicken - 1.8kg, portioned on the bone for fricassee, skin on
White wine vinegar - 150ml
Fennel - 1 bulb, finely sliced
Garlic - 3 fat cloves, peeled and crushed
Bay leaves - 2
Tarragon - 1 small supermarket pack, leaves picked and roughly chopped
Dijon - 4 tbsp
Paprika - 1 tsp
Double cream - 100ml
Chicken stock - 500ml
Salt and crushed black pepper

Hard fry any chicken skin trimmings to render out the chicken fat. Remove the skin and then season and fry the chicken pieces skin side down until deeply golden. Remove the chicken pieces and place in an oven proof bowl or casserole dish. Tip most of the chicken fat out of the frying pan and deglaze with the vinegar, reducing until almost evaporated. Add the remainder of the ingredients and bring to the boil. Tip one the chicken, cover and simmer in a low oven (140c) or slow cooker for 2.5 to 3 hours. The chicken should be falling off the bone when cooked.

Carefully remove the chicken pieces and keep warm. Transfer the sauce to a large pan and reduce by half to make a thick sauce. Check the seasoning and correct if necessary - I found none was required as the mustard was highly seasoned. Serve the chicken up with buttery mash, greens and nap over the sauce Finish with plenty of chopped tarragon.

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