Green Fricassee of Chicken
1 kg / 2 lb leaf spinach (before cooking)
100 g / 3 oz butter
A jointed roasting chicken weighing 1½ kg / 3 lb
¾ bottle dry Rhine wine
125 ml / ¼ pint double cream
2 tbsp freshly picked and finely chopped parsley
¼ tsp nutmeg or powdered mace
I think this is one of the most delicious and most unusual dishes to come out of the English repertoire. The sauce is beautifully rich and the wine-flavoured chicken is perfect with its partner of green leaf spinach.
Put a little water in a pan and press in all the spinach, salt it lightly, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain well and run plenty of cold water through it. Leave the spinach in a sieve with a plate over it and a weight on top to press out any surplus liquid.
When the spinach has completely drained, arrange it in a moulded bed at the bottom of a serving dish large enough to take the chicken pieces. Dot with 1 ounce of the butter, cover with foil and put into the refrigerator until needed. (This operation can be done a day in advance.)
Put the serving-sized chicken pieces into a large plastic bag with the seasoned flour and shake well until each piece is completely coated. Melt at least 2 ounces of butter in a heavy-bottomed frying pan until it foams and carefully fry the chicken joints until they are golden brown on all sides. Cover the pieces with the wine, put a lid on the pan and gently simmer the chicken until it is tender.
Re-cover the dish with foil and put it to warm through for 20 minutes in an oven pre-heating to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Strain the wine stock, which will be slightly thickened from the flour on the chicken pieces, into another smaller pan and bring to the boil just before you are ready to serve the dish.
Beat the egg-yolks and add the cream. Remove the pan from the heart and whisk in this liaison of cream and yolks. If the sauce does not thicken immediately, return the pan to a very low heat and whisk gently until it is the consistency of a real custard sauce. Add the parsley and check the seasoning.
Sprinkle a little mace or nutmeg over the waiting chicken pieces and then coat with the bright green-yellow sauce. Serve with buttered green pasta.
Copyright © Michael Smith, 2007