Chicken Forestiere is your new favourite dinner party dish. The French pronunciation makes you sound elegant and cultured, and the rich, indulgent flavours make you look like you know how to work a kitchen – but you won’t even break a sweat.
This is a slightly tweaked Viner version – technically Chicken Forestiere is cooked in a big pot with chicken thighs, but this recipe involves separately cooking Chicken Supremes, which are more succulent and special occasion. The Chicken Supremes that I use are from Springfield Chicken Farm – a wonderful organic, free range farm that I grew up down the road from in Herefordshire.
Without getting all preachy, I’d like to stress the importance of buying and eating free range / organic meats. ‘Why does it matter – it’s only a STUPID chicken!’ you might be thinking. Maybe, but just think about how much you’d like to be stuffed into a tiny box all day with a single light bulb and forced to push eggs out of your bum.
A farm like Springfield ensures the best quality product as all of their chickens are reared to Soil Association Organic standards. This means they live in smaller flocks with the freedom to roam, a natural diet where they forage and graze on Organic pastures and no growth – increasing hormones. Basically the happiest life a chicken can have, producing the best quality meat that you can eat. For a few extra pounds, it’s a no brainer.
20g dried wild mushrooms
salt and pepper
6 chicken supremes
2 small onions, diced
75 mls Madeira or sherry
3 small carrots, peeled and cut into batons
200 ml chicken stock
150 ml double cream
150g mixed mushrooms (Morrisons do a good mixed pack)
A Pack of lardons
Large handful chopped parsley
Begin by heating your oven to 180 degrees.
Put the wild mushrooms in a bowl, then cover with boiling hot water and leave to soak.
Heat some oil in a pan until it’s nice and hot, then season and sear the Supremes on both sides until they’re crispy and golden. Pour out the oil from the pan, saving some of the juices in a bowl.
Put your chicken in the oven for 25 minutes – this timing is KEY to ensuring your meat is juicy and tender. Dry chicken will only end in dry conversation around the table, so don’t risk it.
Whack up the heat, add a spoonful of butter and sauté the onion until they start to sizzle. Turn the heat down and let the onions soften and go pale and caramelised. Patience is key with cooking onions the right way…you want them to collapse together to be extra soft and sweet.
Deglaze the pan with the Madeira / sherry and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to free all the oniony, juicy goodness. Add the carrots and the stock, followed by the wild mushrooms with their soaking water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 mins. Next stir in your cream and let it bubble for 10 minutes with the lid off, or until it thickens up.
In a separate pan, heat around a table spoon of the reserved chicken juice and sauté the mixed mushrooms until they’re cooked through and dark – keep cooking until the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated. Toss these in with the sauce, then use the same pan to quickly fry up your lardons until they’re nice and crispy (bacon is also non-conventional in a Chicken Forestiere recipe, but my mum does it this way and who doesn’t love a lardon). Add these to the pan (sieve out the fat by spooning them out) and stir so everything combines – the sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Add a good grind of salt and pepper, then taste and add a bit more if needed.
I served mine with buttery mash potato and peas. I make my (EPIC) mash by boiling potatoes, then ricing them into a big bowl whilst hot and mixing with plenty of butter, milk, salt and pepper. If you haven’t got a potato ricer then please drop everything and buy one NOW – your mash (and your life) will never be the same again. Serve by placing a piece of chicken on a plate, then covering with a generous ladle of sauce, and topping off with a big spoonful of creamy mash and peas. Obviously you can add more veg if you want – roasted carrots or sautéed cabbage would be nice – but this is definitely a ‘less is more’ kind of dish. A simple and delicious crowd pleaser.
You can buy Springfield Chicken on their website and have it delivered, but they also stock their products in London butchers (see below). We get our Christmas Turkey from Springfield every year and you can get one of these online too.
Walters Butchers – Barons Court, Monday to Saturday
Grahams Butchers – Finchley East end road, 7 days a week
Boucherie Gerard – Mill Hill, 7 days a week
Jago’s Butchers – Chelsea Market, Monday to Saturday
Stanton Butchers – Hammersmith, Tuesday to Saturday
Highland Foods – Mill Hill, Tuesday to Saturday