For mains we had:
- Braised Chicken with Sherry and Cream
- Glazed carrots (as per previously)
- Steamed sugar snap peas
- Pommes Boulangere
Here I'm going to cover the potato side dish - Pommes Boulangere, and then the Braised Chicken with Sherry and Cream. Yum. (Note, if you're just here for the chicken, scroll on down..)
Okay, so this dish is a variant of a dish you are probably familiar with - layered baked potatoes cooked with cream. This version has you cooking the potatoes in stock. Let's see how we went...
Firstly, you cooked some white wine. You are supposed to cook it down by a third. You know, it is actually quite difficult to guage a reduction of a third for a small volume of liquid (100ml).
Onions cooking.... and more cooking...
So then it is really just the dance you know.. layer your thinly sliced potato with bits of butter (of course, it's Heston after all) and salt and pepper. Oh and those super-soft onions.
What I learned
- Measure that stock!
- Scary amounts of oil can lead to tasty results
- You need a seriously heavy tray to go on top to squish them nicely down.
VerdictThe flavour was great, without being as rich as the cream version can be from time to time. It's only real downside was that it still had some liquid in it pooling - which was totally my fault for not weighing the volume of liquid to be added. Which means, depending on how accurately you do those reducing stages, may mean you're out quite a bit. I'd certainly make it again though, far from a failure or anything.
Well received (...though general agreement on the 'a bit wet').
Okay.. now for the mains!
Braised Chicken with Sherry and CreamThis was a seriously good dish. And not too difficult or time consuming. It was possibly my favourite Heston dish I've tried to date.
So, let's make it!
Firstly, as an optional step, you can brine your chicken. I did so, but only for about 2 hours (less than than recommended 4 hours). This certainly still helped, making for tasty plump chicken thighs.
Slow cook your onion, leek and garlic.
I'll note that I couldn't find any of the specific sherry Heston suggested you use, and the bottle shop person had no idea what they were. But what I did buy was the best genuine Spanish sherry I could. This was not cheap I think around $25 for the bottle - but I have plenty left over, and its delicious. I never thought of sherry being particularly tasty but now I see why all those grannies are getting tipsy on it! Decent alcohol tastes good, who would have guessed! <insert mock surprise here.> Given it is a big flavour component of the dish, I'd certainly think in this case it's worth the extra. Think of it as the money you saved buying chicken thighs instead of some expensive cut of meat.
Next step, as is often the case, is to strain all that onion and such out from the braising liquid.
I do have to note that the sauce here tastes delicious.
All the onions go side down... so they can brown up nicely. I love this second photo.. looks very magazine-like 'casual'.
Then the mushrooms get much the same treatment... butter.. plus mushrooms, cooked until they were brown and lovely.
Things I learned from this recipe:
- Sherry is surprisingly tasty.
- Not all cream dishes have to be crazily rich (which is good, cos my stomach tends to not appreciate super-rich food).
- Again, straining sauces leads to amazing flavour + smooth richness of mouthfeel (Sorry, I had to go all food critic there for a second.)
VerdictNow, you know I really, really don't think the above image does this dish justice. Because that chicken was wonderful. As in... possibly-the-tastiest-chicken-dish-I've-ever-made wonderful. I was worried it would be too rich what with the sherry and cream, but it was just lovely. Chicken perfectly cooked through, sauce so, so tasty. If the potatoes had been a nice neat stack instead of a tasty mess, then I would have been hard pressed to self-criticise a single element. And that wasn't the fault of the braised chicken, so .. yes. A most excellent dish. I'd make it again.I also liked that it was doable on a single day, without requiring a lot of multiple day preparation which was a nice change too.
There was a fair bit of sauce left over, and I did consider if you could stretch it by adding extra chicken pieces. However, I decided that if you did, you would not have enough sauce for the chicken to sit in and braise properly, so in this case I think Heston got to quantities right. I will admit that the following night I cooked some extra chicken cutlets and we ate the most amazing leftovers using the sauce and potatoes. (And a little dessert left over too...)