This classic French recipe is a terrific dish for a dinner party. The French would always use a local wine to make it—I’d suggest a good Côtes du Rhône-Villages, a Gigondas or Lirac.
300 g (10½ oz.) shallots
3 tablespoons plain/all-purpose flour
6 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons olive oil
125 g (4 ½ oz.) chopped streaky/fatty bacon or pancetta cubes
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
50 ml (3½ tablespoons) brandy
3 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 750 ml (3 ¼ cups) bottle dry fruity red wine (see recipe introduction)
250 g (3 ½ cups) small button mush- rooms
15 g (1 tablespoon) butter, softened (optional)
3 tablespoons freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Creamy mashed potatoes or tagliatelle, to serve
Cut the shallots into even-sized pieces, leaving the small ones whole and halving or quartering the others.
Put 2 tablespoons of flour in a shallow dish and season it with salt and pepper. Dip the chicken breasts in the fl our and coat both sides. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large lidded frying pan/skillet or deep flameproof casserole, add the chicken breasts and fry for 2–3 minutes on each side until lightly browned – you may have to do this in two batches.
Remove the chicken from the pan, discard the oil and wipe the pan with kitchen paper. Return the pan to the heat and pour in the remaining oil. Add the chopped bacon or pancetta cubes and the shallots and fry until lightly browned. Stir in the garlic, then return the chicken to the pan. Put the brandy in a small saucepan and heat it until almost boiling. Set it alight with a long cook’s match or taper and carefully pour it over the chicken. Let the flames die down, then add the thyme and bay leaf and pour in enough wine to just cover the chicken. Bring back to simmering point, then reduce the heat, half-cover the pan and simmer very gently for 45 minutes. (If you’re making this dish ahead of time, take the pan off the heat after 30 minutes, let cool and refrigerate overnight.) Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for another 10–15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan, set aside and keep it warm. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the shallots, bacon pieces or pancetta cubes and mushrooms out of the pan and keep them warm. Increase the heat under the pan and let the sauce simmer until it has reduced by half. If the sauce needs thickening, mash the remaining soft butter with 1 tablespoon flour to give a smooth paste, then add it bit by bit to the sauce, whisking well after each addition, until the sauce is smooth and glossy.
Return the shallots, pancetta and mushrooms to the pan. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper, to taste. Cut each chicken breast into four slices and arrange them on warm serving plates. Spoon a generous amount of sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes or tagliatelle.
Pairing: Drink a similar wine to that you’ve used to make the dish. Say, a Côtes du Rhone-Villages or a Gigondas.
Excerpted from Wine Lover’s Kitchen by Fiona Beckett, published by Ryland Peters & Small, $37.50. Copyright © 2017. Photography by Mowie Kay. Used with permission by the publisher.
This original food article first appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.