Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Roast chicken with braised lettuce and peas and Napa Valley Chardonnay

It's funny what can happen when you use Twitter. I've been in touch with a range of people I simply would not come across in my normal day-to-day life.

I've been in touch with a guy who makes handmade pasta in Shepton Mallet, the chef at my favourite local restaurant, a blogger who lives in Australia and Al. Al runs www.winechateau.com, a wine merchants in New Jersey.

I'd been tweeting about my latest cooking and eating experiences, posting links to my blog, and Al got in touch to say he liked it. We exchanged a few tweets and then conversation (is it conversation on Twitter?) turned to a subject close to both our hearts - food and wine.

Most of the time my posts are just about food, either what I've cooked or what I've eaten out somewhere. Rarely do I blog about food and wine together, which seems odd when I often make a point of seeking out a nice bottle to go with what I'm cooking.

This seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. Surely Al could give me some guidance on what wine to put with food. Thankfully he obliged.

His first suggestion was for roast chicken with a Napa Valley Chardonnay - like this one (available from www.winechateau.com). So that's what we tried.

For 2 people we used the following:

4 chicken thighs
1 lemon, chopped into wedges
4 cloves of garlic
splash of olive oil
salt and pepper

2 little gem lettuce cut into quarters
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 good handfuls of peas
1 small onion, or large shallot, finely chopped
200ml good chicken stock
4 tablespoons creme fraiche
1 small knob of butter
splash of olive oil

Put the chicken thighs in a roasting pan, drizzle over some olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place around them the wedges of lemon and cloves of garlic. Roast in the oven at 180c for about 30 minutes or until the juices run clear when you skewer the chicken.

Whilst the chicken is roasting, get going with the lettuce. Put a small knob of butter in a pan with a splash of olive oil and soften the chopped onion or shallot over a medium heat. Then put the lettuce quarters on top, cut side down, and cook for a couple of minutes. Then, pour over the stock, put the lid on the pan and lightly simmer for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes lift out the lettuce quarters with a slotted spoon, leave to stand whilst you reduce the cooking liquor over a high heat. When it's reduced by half, add the creme fraiche, mustard and peas. Turn the heat down and warm the peas for a minute or 2.

Plate the lettuce and chicken and spoon the pea, cream and mustard sauce around them.

The wine, of course, is a great match. The maturation in oak means it's full-bodied, which compliments the meat and the rich sauce. The natural chardonnay flavours of citrus and crisp apple work nicely with the lemon the chicken has been roasted with. And there's a  minerality which goes well with the lettuce.

So, thanks Al. Just goes to show what Twitter can do.

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