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Fine English Cookery

Green Fricassee of Chicken

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Green Fricassee of Chicken

1 kg / 2 lb leaf spinach (before cooking)
100 g / 3 oz butter
A jointed roasting chicken weighing 1 kg / 3 lb
Seasoned flour
bottle dry Rhine wine
3 egg-yolks
125 ml / pint double cream
2 tbsp freshly picked and finely chopped parsley
tsp nutmeg or powdered mace
Salt

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 170C/325F/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

 
Chilled Almond Soup

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Chilled Almond Soup

1 litre / 2 pints chicken stock
175 g / 6 oz flaked almonds
60 ml / 2 fl oz nut oil
30 g / 1 oz plain flour
175 ml / 1/3 pint single cream
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Flaked almonds for garnish

Simmer the almonds and stock together for 20 minutes. Squeeze them hard through a clean, unstarched linen towel.

Heat the oil over a very low heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Stir in the flour away from the heat. Gradually add the strained almond stock and bring to the boil, stirring continuously to avoid lumping. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for a further 10 minutes over a low heat.

Strain again through a fine sieve and put aside to cool in a bowl. Cover with an oiled paper cut to fit the surface area of the soup. (If you use a buttered paper, the butter will harden when the soup is cold.) When cold, transfer to the refrigerator and chill well.

Before serving, whip the cream until the whisk leaves an obvious trail which takes a few seconds to subside. Fold the cream into the soup. Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh flaked almonds.

An alternative and equally good way of making this soup is to put the stock and almonds through the blender. This will give you a slightly thicker soup than the original recipe, so have a little more clear chicken stock chilled and at the ready to thin it down if you so wish. The finished soup should well coat the back of a dessert spoon — not a wooden spoon, as liquid clings too readily to the wood and is not a good indication of consistency.

Copyright © Michael Smith, 2007

 
Gooseberry and Rosemary Ice-Cream

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Gooseberry and Rosemary Ice-Cream

500 g / 1 lb green gooseberries
3 tbsps cold water
4 tbsps castor sugar
Rind of half a lemon
1 level tsp powdered rosemary
litre / pint double cream

Top and tail the gooseberries and put them into a pan with all the other ingredients except the cream. Simmer over a low heat, tossing the pan occasionally until all the fruit has fallen to a pulp but is not over-cooked and discoloured.

Cool the fruit and put first through a blender or Mouli and then press the purée through a hair sieve. Cool the purée completely before folding in the cream. Place in a suitable container in the ice-making compartment of your refrigerator or in the deep-freeze.

Copyright © Michael Smith, 2007

 
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