When I embarked on my latest book, Simply Raymond: Recipes from Home, I had no idea of the path that lay ahead. Originally I had set out to write a book that was a tribute to my mum and the food that she prepared, cooked and served chez Blanc.
I wasn’t far into the project when, suddenly, Britain went into lockdown. At home, and away from a professional kitchen, I craved and busily cooked the dishes that whizzed me back to my childhood in Franche-Comté: tartiflette; onion and bacon tart; Maman Blanc’s soups, so easy and rustled up in flash.
Sadly, my mother passed away shortly before the book was completed. Yet many of the recipes seem to reunite me with her. One taste and I smile at the memories.
For this wholesome one-pot chicken dish, you will see that the white wine used in the recipe is first boiled. This isn’t essential, although before cooking with wine – red or white – I boil it for 10-20 seconds, removing most of the alcohol and intensifying the flavours.
When cooking fish, I often use Gewurztraminer as it holds its character and aromas. For this recipe, any dry white wine can be used. However, the Savagnin grape also retains its flavour when cooked, so a white from the Jura, my region of France, is ideal here.
If cooking with reds, I avoid Pinot Noir. It is too elegant for the heat of a pan. Instead I reach for something inexpensive, big, spicy, rich and strong in tannins, such as a red from Languedoc, Rhône or Cahors; or, from further afield, a Syrah. Bon appétit!
Chicken braised with white wine & mustard recipe
This technique of braising or one-pot cooking can be adapted to suit any meat, and has a wonderful sauce that is herby and gently acidic. Any of your favourite herbs and vegetables can be added to the dish. In this one, olives and wild mushrooms are a lovely addition. I use the legs because they are the best cut for braising (the breast will become dry during cooking).
Preparation time 10 mins
Cooking time 1 hour
- 4 chicken thighs and 4 drumsticks
- sea salt and black pepper
- ½ white onion
- 6 garlic cloves
- 3 big, fat ripe tomatoes
- 150ml white wine
- 3 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 4 pinches of sea salt flakes
- 6 whole black peppercorns
- 1 heaped tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 large tarragon sprig
- 5-6 sage leaves
- 100ml water
- To finish: a small handful of chopped curly or flat-leaf parsley or chives
1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/fan 130°C/ gas mark 2.
2.To prepare: season the chicken flesh (not the skin). Chop the onion. Finely slice the peeled garlic. Coarsely chop the tomatoes.
3. In a small saucepan, bring the white wine to the boil and let it boil for 10 seconds before removing from the heat. Reserve.
4. In a large heavy-based casserole dish over a medium heat, heat the oil then sear and lightly colour the chicken pieces for 7-8 minutes. Transfer them to a plate.
5. Add the onion and garlic to the casserole and sweeten them over the heat for 4-5 minutes but do not brown them.
6. Spoon out some of the fat, pour in the vinegar – it might make you cough, but when that aroma has faded, that’s just right, and reduce it to a syrup.
7. Add the salt and peppercorns and the boiled white wine. Whisk in the mustard, add the chopped tomatoes, whole tarragon sprig and sage leaves. Pour in the water and return the chicken to the pan.
8. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid (or foil) and transfer to the oven to cook for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Test the chicken is cooked by taking out a leg and cutting down to the bone to check it’s not pink in the centre. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
9. Garnish with the chopped parsley or chives and serve at the table from the pot.
Chicken with white wine and mustard: Wines to match
Apart from cooking with the wines of the Jura, I often serve them too. The whites are produced predominantly with two grapes – Savagnin and Chardonnay – and are perfectly balanced, floral, crisp and acidic. True, I am biased as they are the wines of my region in eastern France. But try them, please: you will not be disappointed.
You may also wish to serve a light red wine, such as Fleurie, from the hilltop town of the same name in the Beaujolais region. Produced from the Gamay grape, it is a light and relatively delicate wine, though with a bit of resistance. Fleurie will not overpower the flavours on this plate. If you prefer Pinot Noir, open a Santenay or Bourgogne Rouge.
Raymond Blanc OBE is chef-patron of two-star Michelin restaurant-hotel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, which he established in Oxfordshire in the 1980s, and head of the Brasserie Blanc group.