Some things in miniature can be very cute – children, dungarees, canapes. Others can be extremely frustrating – children, cakes, onions. Yes, mini onions, or shallots as they’re often known, are one of my pet hates to prepare. If you need to keep them whole, and you want, say, 12 like I did for this recipe, you’ll need to add an extra 15 minutes to your prep time. But this tip might just save some time. I did a very scientific, controlled experiment with a sample size of 1, and I’m pleased to say it more or less works!
Coq au vin
(based on Lorraine Pascale’s recipe in Home Cooking Made Easy) serves 6
About 12 shallots, whole, peeled in advance
20g dried porcini mushrooms
Olive oil for cooking
Plain flour for dusting, plus another 2 tbsp
About 12 chicken thighs
Some sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary, or substitute 1 tsp of each dried
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, squashed and peeled
200g chestnut mushrooms, washed and sliced
750ml red wine
450ml chicken stock
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
Fresh parsley, chopped, to garnish
Peel the shallots (they’ll be ok in the fridge overnight in a sealed container). Cover the dried porcini mushrooms with hot water and soak for 20 minutes. Squeeze them out and keep the water. Chop the porcini mushrooms.
Coat the chicken pieces in flour and season with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large casserole dish (you could use a frying pan for all this, and stick it in a casserole later). Brown the chicken in batches, and set aside. Fry the lardons and set aside. Fry the shallots for a few minutes, then add the thyme and rosemary, bay leaf, garlic and chestnut mushrooms for a few minutes more. Stir in the 2 tbsp flour and let it coat everything. Then add the wine and stock bit by bit, mixing well. Now add the chicken, lardons and porcini mushrooms. Bring it to a simmer.
Now you can cook it in a low oven in the casserole dish with a lid on (150’C) for as long as you want. 40 minutes is probably the minimum, but longer would be better. I went for 5 hours. Just keep checking on the liquid level especially if your casserole dish isn’t well sealed! 20 minutes before you want to serve it, add the carrot pieces.
Serve it sprinkled with parsley. Creamy mash is a great accompaniment, or tagliatelle is apparently quite authentic. If you’re feeling lazy after all that shallot peeling, just serve with chunky bread and butter.
p.s. I was horrified to find on youtube a video of an American saying SHALLot, rather than shalLOT. The sound of it was offensive. Can you imagine the Lady of SHALLott?
Throwback: Churros from November 2014. Because I’m missing Tenerife!