The weather in Joburg this past week has been rainy and grey. Real red wine and comfort food weather. To add to our weather woes, hubby has come down with “the man-flu” and in need of a man-sized dose of TLC. The best way to take care of my man-child is to comfort him with some super satisfying food, that doesn’t take me hours to prep. I thought I’d share 2 of his favourite comfort food recipes with you. They are both pretty quick and easy but decidedly moreish. To be enjoyed with a glass of shiraz or pinot noir, our current red wine of choice.
FUSS-FREE COQ A VIN
There really is no fuss in making this classic one-pot French dish which is simply “chicken in wine”. It’s the perfect comfort food that fills the house with the most divine cooking smells. Be sure to use quality ingredients and have an awesome casserole dish, and cooking success is assured. Serve over some creamy mashed potato, roasted cauliflower smothered with butter or organic brown basmati rice.
Ingredients (Serves 6)
250g smoky bacon, diced
250g pearl onions, peeled – I couldn’t find any so used 5-6 shallots which I halved
125g baby carrots – cut into bite sized chunks
250g button mushrooms, halved
800g chicken pieces, on the bone, skin on – I use a combination of breast and thigh because I want more white meat (traditionally this is made with drumsticks and thighs).
1 tablespoon freshly crushed garlic
3-4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon freeze-dried thyme
1 tablespoon freeze-dried oregano
¼ cup brandy
500ml organic chicken stock
650ml red wine
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter (because butter makes everything better!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped to serve
About an hour to prep and cook
Preheat the oven to 175°C, fan on.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the bacon and cook until almost crispy (5-10 minutes). Transfer bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.
Pat the chicken pieces with a paper towel. Add the chicken pieces in batches of two to the bacon fat in the pot, skin side down. Sear for about 5 minutes each side, until skin is rendered, crispy and browned. Transfer the chicken to the plate with the bacon.
Add the onions, carrots, salt, and pepper to the pan and cook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, while stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, thyme and oregano, and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
Pour the Cognac/brandy, wine and chicken stock into the pot, stirring to combine. Then return the bacon and chicken, and any juices leftover from the plate into the pot. Add the bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Cover your pot with a lid or foil and transfer to the oven for 20 minutes.
Remove the pot from the oven and stir in the mushrooms. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
Take your pot out the oven and place it on the stove on a medium heat. Mash the butter with the flour and stir it into your sauce to thicken. Bring the casserole to a simmer and cook for a further 5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat and serve over your side of choice. Finish with a sprinkle of flat leaf parsley.
PASTA WITH TANGY CHICKEN, BLUE CHEESE AND APPLE SAUCE
I discovered this unusual recipe in a magazine many, many moons ago. It has been a firm favourite comfort dish of ours ever since. The addition of the apple cider vinegar and apple juice gives the creamy sauce a tang that helps cut through some of the richness of the blue cheese. It’s basically a very simple 5-ingredient dish. From time-to-time, I make slight variations where I add some briefly steamed, still crunchy broccoli, or some sliced mushrooms flash-fried in some butter at a high heat, or pine-nuts (stirred in at the end).
Ingredients (Serves 4)
500g skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (I like to use the real deal – Bragg apple cider vinegar)
2/3 cup apple juice (I use the Woolies 100% Squeezed & Pressed Pink Lady® Apple Juice)
About 180g good quality blue cheese (the sharp flavour of this Cremezola Semi-Soft Blue Cheese from Woolies is perfect for this recipe), chopped up
400g good quality spaghetti (this Organic Khorasan Kamut Spaghetti is superb) – penne also works really well with this recipe
Sea salt & black pepper
Some Parmesan for serving
30 minutes to marinade and 10-15 minutes to cook
Combine the apple cider vinegar and apple juice in a bowl. Add the chicken and allow to marinade for at least 30 minutes.
Drain the chicken when you’re ready to cook, reserving all the marinade (this is the base of your sauce). Melt the butter in a pan over high heat. Add you chicken pieces and fry quickly until cooked through – it may not necessarily be browned. Be careful not to over-cook the chicken or it will be dry. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Pour the reserved marinade into the pan. Drop the heat and gently bring to a simmer. Add the blue cheese to the simmering apple sauce. Keep stirring while the sauce again comes to a simmer and the blue cheese completely melts.
Once the blue cheese has melted and the sauce is gently simmering, return the chicken to the pan. Add some sea salt to taste and a couple of generous twists of black pepper. Bring to a simmer again and your sauce is ready to be added to your pasta.
While your sauce is simmering, cook and drain your pasta. Return it to the pot. When the sauce is done, pour the sauce over your pasta. Mix carefully, making sure to coat the pasta thoroughly with the delicious sauce. Enjoy immediately.
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(Related post: My favourite all-weather red wine)