The French Themed Feast continues…
Wine Harvester’s Chicken is an amazing dinner party meal. Crispy golden chicken, succulent melt in your mouth chicken, and full flavoured wine sauce. Best part – super easy and mostly done ahead of time, so you can sit and enjoy the company of your guests rather than be in the kitchen.
Now I am more a wine drinker than a harvester, but my parents used to travel to Stanthorpe with Vic Daneluz to pick grapes and then assist Vic in the process of making wine. A light fruity red that packed a punch but was kind to your head as it was preservative free. So surely being the daughter of a wine harvester counts for something right? When I first saw this recipe pop in David Lebovitz’s Instagram feed, I knew I was going to make it and love it. (If you don’t follow David, go and have a look – he posts the most wonderful images of real food without pretension or fuss.) I first made for a Tuesday night dinner, hunting down pimento berries (which of course now seem to pop up everywhere) and made some notes about what I would do differently. You know I can’t just leave it alone right? Well, for a start, I am feeding 10 rather than 4. So adjustments needed to be made. And I’m figuring that if you are having people over you will be dealing with similar numbers.
Start with chicken thigh cutlets – bone in and skin on. I have also used these with a chicken leg combo. I find the Maryland section too large for a single portion. Whilst David salts his chicken overnight, I did not. Honestly – I’m just not that organised. I did however, salt for a few hours. The next deviation is cooking the chicken. No oil! When you place the chicken skin side down in the heated pan, LOADS of fat comes out. Chicken flavoured goodness. I browned the thighs in batches and placed in two large baking trays, skin side down. You want enough room for air to circulate to ensure that crispy golden skin.
As always, I bake on paper as I don’t want loads of cleaning up. Place the browned chicken skin side down in two large baking trays. Continue cooking in batches until all chicken is browned. If there is oodles of fat in the pan, drain some off leaving you with about 1- 1 1/2 tablespoons.
Fry thick strips of bacon or speck* and give it a stir until almost cooked. (* I couldn’t find speck or thick cut bacon so used Kaiser fleisch instead. I am lucky to have the help of Jess [who still remembers the fairy plate I painted for her 5th birthday] when I shop at Coles) Add in the eschalots and garlic and stir until translucent. Add the wine stock and vinegar to the pot, bring to the boil and then add in loads of black pepper. Take off the heat and add in thyme, allspice berries and orange peel and then pour over the chicken.
Cover with foil. This is the dinner party beauty right here – you can end at this step, have your oven preheated, then just go and get gorgeous. Pop the chicken in when your guests arrive and let it bubble away for 30 minutes while you have a few sherbets and some nibbles. When the timer goes off, take off the foil and turn chicken skin side up, toss in the grapes and cook a further 30-35 minutes until golden and crisp skinned.
This would be ideal served with mashed potato, but I cannot bear that pressure when guests are over, so serve with baked polenta and crusty bread. Trust me, you are going to need something to mop up the sauce! A green bean salad rounds out the meal.
- 12-15 chicken thigh cutlets, bone in skin on
- 1 cup bacon or speck, cut into batons
- 3 eschalots, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups white wine
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4 strips of orange zest, about 3cm long and with as much pith removed as possible
- 12-14 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 12-14 allspice berries, lightly crushed
- 3 cups of red grapes, preferably seedless and what is in season and tasty
- Preheat oven to moderate 180°C. Line two large baking trays with baking paper.
- Heat a large frypan over medium heat. Without oil, add chicken, skin side down and brown for about 5 minutes. Turn and brown other side then remove to baking tray, placing skin side down. Repeat with remaining chicken.
- Add bacon to pan and stir until almost cooked. Add eschalot and garlic and cook until translucent. Add stock, wine and vinegar, bring to the boil. *Remove from heat and add pepper and allspice berries.
- Divide thyme and orange zest between baking trays and pour stock mixture evenly over chicken. Cover trays with foil and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
- Remove foil and turn chicken skin side up. Scatter grapes over the chicken and return to oven to bake a further 30-40 minutes until chicken skin is golden and crispy and the sauce has reduced slightly.
- Serve with mashed potato or baked polenta with crusty bread and a green salad.
- NB - This has been adapted from a David Lebovitz recipe