“I love poaching chicken as it keeps it moist and succulent, while roasting it afterwards crisps up the skin for ultimate flavour. Lentils à la Française is one of my favourites – lentils can be tasteless, but this method allows the lentils to take on the flavour of the bouillon and all the aromatic herbs. The red wine sauce gives it a lovely acidity, depth and richness,” says Michael Caines.

Ingredients:

For the lentils

  • 200g puy lentils
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 small shallot, peeled
  • 4 slices of smoked bacon
  • 1 carrot, small, peeled and halved
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 knob butter

For the red wine sauce

  • 100g red wine
  • 300g veal jus

For the celeriac purée

  • 1 large celeriac
  • 300g semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 knob butter

For the chicken and vegetables

  • 4 free-range chicken breasts, skin on
  • 4 baby parsnips, halved lengthways, or 2 large parsnips cut into large dice
  • 1 knob butter
  • 12 baby leeks, optional
  • 250g baby onions, peeled
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into a large dice
  • Olive oil

Method:

  1. Place the lentils in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Bring to the boil then pass through a colander, before refreshing in cold water.
  2. Place the lentils back in the saucepan and add 700ml water, the garlic, shallot, bacon, carrot and bouillon. Bring to the boil and reduce to a slow simmer for 10-15 minutes. The lentils should be tender with no bite, but still holding their shape.
  3. Once the lentils are cooked, allow to cool. Remove the other ingredients (reserve the bacon, finely dice and stir through) and store the lentils in their cooking juices until later.
  4. Gently simmer the wine in a small saucepan until reduced by half. Add the veal jus, bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Season to taste and set aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Remove the chicken from the fridge and season the skin with salt.
  6. Peel the celeriac and create a large cube by trimming the sides. Cut the cube into large dice. Combine the celeriac trimmings and half the dice, 300g water and the milk in a saucepan and simmer until the celeriac is soft. Strain, reserving the liquid, and place the celeriac in a blender. Blitz with a little cooking liquid and the butter until smooth and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Season the parsnip and remaining celeriac and pan-roast in a little vegetable oil with the butter for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Place in the oven for 5 minutes until tender, then remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 180°C/gas mark 4.
  8. Cook the baby leeks and onions in a pan of boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes until tender, then strain and refresh in cold water. Cut the baby onions in half and sear cut-side down in a hot non-stick pan.
  9. Heat an ovenproof frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add a dash of oil and, once hot, place the chicken breasts skin-side down. Cook until the skin is golden in colour, then season the flesh and turn each breast over. Transfer the chicken to the oven and cook for 8 minutes before removing and allowing to rest for 10 minutes.
  10. Gently warm the lentils in a saucepan and once hot, remove from the heat and stir in the butter and parsley. Season to taste.
  11. Warm the purée and add a spoonful to the centre of the plate, followed by the lentils and the chicken breast. Arrange the winter vegetables around the chicken and finish with a drizzle of red wine sauce.

Recipe courtesy of greatbritishchefs.com

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