“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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Remove the chicken from the fridge and season the skin with salt.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Gently warm the lentils in a saucepan and once hot, remove from the heat and stir in the butter and parsley. Season to taste.
- 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