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Back to today's recipe and a little something for Bastille Day...
Everyone has a topic or something that sets them off. For me, one dynamite topic is related to my past life in advertising. It is being treated like the assistant or secretary just because I am female. People used to assume that my male junior was the boss and treat me like a secretary. So when we were making social plans and my friend Nick asked me to send around an invite to everyone with a dismissive hand wave, I'm afraid I went rather apoplectic at him.
"I'm not your secretary!" I said indignantly. "Put in your own damn appointments!" I answered dredging up memories of being asked to calendar things. Nick quickly put his hands up in a surrender gesture. He's not entirely innocent of course and has been known to say some rather dodgy and sexist things that Belinda and I are trying to beat out of him (not physically but emotionally in the way that sisters do).
The topic turned to his own assistant. He explained how well he treated her buying her bottles of Southern Comfort and chocolates. He leaned in and said winking, "You know before I hand the chocolates to her, I give them a spray of after shave." Honestly, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
"I'm sure she loves the fact that when she opens up her Roses chocolates that she thinks of dodgy guys at clubs!" I said unimpressed. He was shocked that I didn't like the idea whereas I couldn't think of a better way to ruin a box of chocolates than with a spritz of Drakkor Noir. Perhaps my vehement reaction was due to the memory of my old boss who used to spray Drakkor Noir in the same fashion as you would apply bug repellent in the tropics.
Anyway, allow me to offer you a nicer aroma and a better way to win the hearts of both genders. This pie.
Coq au vin is a classic French dish and it is chicken cooked in wine with bacon or lardons, mushrooms, onion, garlic and seasonings. It's smells wonderful while the chicken is simmering away and there is the added bonus of the puff pastry pie on top that also smells buttery and alluringly good when baking.
The stovetop and oven do most of the work - sure there is a bit of dicing but I put all of these things in the chopper and just over an hour later you might find yourself pulling out a golden pie from the oven, the rich wine sauce bubbling through the holes. The carrots are just a last minute addition and you can take or leave them but I promise that you will never want to leave the pie behind. Unlike after shave soaked chocolates ;)
So tell me Dear Reader, is there a topic or person that makes your blood boil or sets you off? And would you notice something like after shave on a box chocolates? Do you have a favourite scent? Mine is browned butter!
Coq au Vin Pie
An Original Recipe by Not Quite Nigella
Serves 4 with a side of vegetables
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 55 minutes
- Oil for frying
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 stick celery, diced
- 2 rashers bacon (about 125g/4ozs), diced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
- 150g/5ozs mushrooms sliced
- 500g/1lb. chicken fillets (I used a mix of thighs and breast) cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons plain all purpose flour
- 1 cup red wine (Burgundy is traditional)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Salt and pepper
- Butter for greasing tray
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 4 Dutch carrots, trimmed
- 1 egg yolk mixed with a teaspoon of milk
Step 1 - Heat the oil in a large pot and add the onion, carrot and celery and cook for a few minutes until softened. Add the bacon and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add the mushrooms and some oil and cook until mushrooms are starting to cook through. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Step 2- Deglaze the pan by adding the red wine and then scraping any stuck bits at the bottom. Then add the flour and stir and press to remove any lumps. Add the chicken pieces coasting them well (at this stage, it will not look appealing at all). Then add the chicken stock, mushroom mixture, bay leaf, thyme and sugar and place the lid on to bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. If you want less sauce, simmer with the lid off, otherwise you can simmer with the lid on if you want your pie to be saucier. Season with salt and pepper once it is cooked.
Step 3 - Meanwhile preheat oven to 220C/440F and grease the pie dish with butter. Thaw a sheet of puff pastry and cut it out to fit a pie dish. Crimp the sides and cut out four holes with a small round cutter (I used an apple corer). When the filling has finished cooking, cool it a little and remove the thyme and bay leaf. Pour the filling into the pie dish and then top with the crimped pastry. Brush with the egg yolk and stick the carrots in the holes. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Or just wear this as a Jason Friday the 13th mask for Halloween!