Chicken Bonne Femme
(Serves 4, ready in one hour and 25 minutes)
- 1x size 12 free-range corn-fed chicken
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp brandy
- 350g shallots, peeled
- 12 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- 150g thickly sliced bacon, chopped into strips
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp chopped thyme
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Beurre manie:
- 2 tsp soft butter blended with slightly less than 2 tsp of plain flour
1 Rinse chicken thoroughly, including inside cavity, drain, then pat dry with paper towels. Season inside chicken cavity with salt. Tie chicken legs together with string and loop the string around the parson's nose, so that the cavity is closed, then take it round the back of the chicken, then bring it back to the parson's nose and tie it in a tight bow. Heat a heavy based casserole over a lowish heat and add the oil and butter. When the butter has melted, put in the chicken, breast down. Brown gently for 10 minutes, turn it over and brown the underside, then brown both the sides.
2 Gently warm brandy in a small pan, ignite it and pour it flaming over the chicken. Gently shake casserole once or twice until the flames subside. Transfer chicken to a plate.
3 Increase heat under casserole, add shallots and garlic and brown well. Transfer these to a second plate. Add bacon to casserole and cook until crisp, stirring often.
4 Return chicken to casserole, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt, grind over plenty of black pepper and add the bay leaves, thyme and wine. Bubble up then cover casserole with a lid and transfer to an oven preheated to 190°C (regular bake).
Cook for 45 minutes then add shallots and garlic. Cook for 15 minutes more then remove casserole form oven.
5 Transfer chicken to a carving board and set casserole over a medium heat. Whisk beurre manie a little at a time into the bubbling juices in the casserole. Continue stirring for 1 minute as it thickens the juices. Taste for seasoning and turn off the heat. Carve chicken into joints and arrange on a heated serving plate. Spoon gravy over the chicken arranging shallots and garlic around the sides. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Take time browning the chicken - slowly does it - to develop wonderful nutty buttery flavours without burning the butter (allow about 15 minutes). If the juices have evaporated after cooking, add a little chicken stock, or if they are too thick after whisking in the beurre manie, thin them with a little chicken stock or hot water; adjust the seasoning.