When I think of Autumn, I think of mushrooms and unsurprisingly they are in all of the Riverford boxes this week.
This is a recipe I came up with for the family I cook for every week. When I was working as a chef in French restaurants, sauces could take literally hours to prepare, from the stocks, to the demi-glace, to the reductions. I don’t have time for that sort of cooking anymore, but I have discovered that sherry is a great way of cheating. You need an Amontillado or a medium dry one. I don’t know how, but it replicates the taste of a really well reduced stock with a wine reduction and when combined with umami rich ingredients such as chicken and mushrooms it transforms them into something really special. In short, they taste like a dish in a super expensive restaurant, which is always a treat, especially when it is really quick and easy.
I did a little bit of research and was very disappointed to discover that Heston Blumenthal had also worked this out and written whole essays on the subject but this is meant to be a time saving recipe so I won’t go into any more detail other than to say – it works!
Roast Chicken Breast with Mushroom, Thyme and Cream Sauce
I love this with just some Tagliatelle and French beans but the kids prefer sautéed potatoes. Serves 2
2 large chicken breasts, skin on
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Large knob of butter
10g dried porcini
1-2 cloves garlic, finely grated
Sprig of thyme, leaves only
150mls medium dry sherry
150mls double cream
Pre-heat the oven to 180 C. Place a heavy bottomed frying-pan (one that can go in the oven) on a medium heat. Add a glug of olive oil. Season the skin side of the chicken with salt and place skin side down on the pan. Season the flesh side with salt and pepper. The pan should not be too hot, as this give the chicken skin time to really crisp up. When deep golden brown and crispy, flip the chicken over and put in the oven. Cook for 10 minutes or so until firm and juices run clear.
Meanwhile, boil the kettle and cover the porcini in boiling water. Thinly slice the mushrooms. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the oven and put the chicken and any juices to one side to rest. Cover to keep warm. In the same pan, fry the mushrooms in the butter. Be careful as the frying pan handle will still be hot. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper and cook down until all the juices have cooked away the mushrooms start frying. Add a little oil if necessary. Cook until golden brown. Add the garlic and thyme leaves and fry for a minute more. Remove the porcini from their soaking liquid, making sure to keep it and finely chop. Add the porcini to the mushrooms and fry for a minute more. Add the sherry and the porcini liquid and reduce until syrupy. Add any juices from the resting chicken and reduce once more. Add the cream and bring back to the boil. Reduce until you have the consistency of single cream. You don’t want the sauce to be gloopy. Adjust seasoning. Return the chicken to the pan and serve.