Monthly Archives: September 2012

Coq au Vin – with a vegetarian option

This weekend I’ve made Coq au Vin for 6. 1 portion for dinner tonight and 5 portions for the freezer. As winters creeping in and its getting cooler I like to freeze delicious meals for ease during the working week. Todays work will give me a night off cooking for the next 5 weeks. Growing up when I had this it was from Delia Smiths recipe. I’ve tried Lorraine Pascale’s recipe this time, she uses dried mushrooms, which add more flavour, she also suggests using thigh and legs, I’ve gone for breasts for pure ease.
  • 15g dried porcini mushrooms
  • Oil, for cooking
  • Plain flour, for dusting
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 chicken breasts
  • 140g pancetta pieces
  • 8-10 small shallots
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Few sprigs of fresh
  • rosemary, woody stem removed and leaves finely
  • chopped 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove of garlic, squashed
  • 150g chestnut mushrooms, wiped and finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 550ml good red wine
  • 400ml chicken stock or vegetable stock (vegetarian option)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped into sticks
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

How to cook:

I found that the best way to take on this recipe is to sort out your measurements first.


First soak the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl of hot water, leave for 20-30 mins. You’ll need to then drain the mushrooms, saving the liquid for later, just in case it’s needed. Roughly chop the mushrooms, then set aside.

Heat some oil in a sauté pan or frying pan until it is nice and hot.

Season the flour well with salt and pepper. Toss the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour and put half of them in the pan, make sure your pan is big enough, and brown all over. Once the chicken pieces are nicely browned, transfer them to a plate and repeat with the rest of the chicken, then set them aside.

Put the pancetta pieces in the same pan and fry until they are beginning to crisp, then tip them onto the plate with the chicken.


In another pan added a glug of oil and heat. Then add the shallots and fry for a minute or so, add the thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, garlic and the chestnut mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms begin to soften, adding more oil if needed. Add the flour and stir to mix everything together. Continue to stir, then gradually add the wine together with the stock.

Once all the liquid has been added, return all the chicken pieces and pancetta to the pan along with the reserved porcini mushrooms and cook for 20-25 minutes (40 if they are large pieces), or until the juices of the chicken run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the meat, and the meat is cooked. Ten minutes before the chicken is ready, add the carrots.

If the stew is too runny, put a sieve over a bowl, tip the chicken into it, and put the bowl with the liquid in back over the heat (and a plate under the chicken to catch the juices!). Boil like mad to reduce. If there is not enough sauce, add a bit of the reserved porcini soaking liquid and/or some stock and heat through. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.

NB. If you are vegetarian, like myself, take another pan and ladle a portion of the liquid in to the new pan, at the end of step 5. Then add your vegetarian substitute, I added veggie sausages, and cook for about 20mins.


Home Cooking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale is published by HarperCollins, priced £20. Images (C) Myles New, 2011


Spinach and Lentil Soup

I find that lentils are great at this time of year, the temperature is dropping as the summer goes into hiding for another 6 months and lentils in soup can provide a healthy hearty meal for lunch or dinner. They are certainly heavily used in many vegetarian dishes in winter, but they do have a meaty texture which can appeal to the meat eaters diet too. I’m likely to cover a few lentil dishes which are family favourites over the next few months.  

2 Carrots
2 sticks Celery
2 Med Onions
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
Thumb sized piece of root ginger
1/2 – 1 fresh red chilli (to your taste)
10 cherry tomatoes
2 chicken or veg stock cubes
300g red lentils
200g spinach
sea salt & ground black pepper
200g natural yoghurt.

Food preparation: Peel and chop carrots, Slice celery, Roughly chop onions, Peel and slice garlic.

Take a large pan and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add chopped and sliced ingredients and mix with wooden spoon. Cook for 10 minutes with the pan lid askew untill carrots have softened and the onions golden.

Meanwhile: peel and finely slice the ginger, de-seed the chilli and finely slice, slice your tomatoes in half. Now add your stock cubes to bowl and add 1.8 litres of boiling water stir till dissolved, then add to the pan along with the lentils ginger chilli and tomatoes.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 mins with the lid on or until lentils are cooked.

Add Spinach and continue to cook for 30 SECONDS. Season and serve as it is or blend in liquidiser.  Warning this will be green.

 To serve top with a splodge of yoghurt, low fat or otherwise. If you have a microwave at work this will be perfect.