Earlier this summer we had dinner with friends who had cooked a delicious casserole of chicken in sherry vinegar for us. The recipe comes from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection, a book which was a sensation when it came out – introducing piedmont roast peppers and oven-roast ratatouille to a huge audience, to mention two of the recipes I still use regularly. However, I had never made this dish, possibly deterred by the thought of pouring over half a bottle of amontillado sherry into the pot, though why this should seem any more extravagant than using a similar quantity of any half decent wine I don’t know. Anyway, the results suggest that it is definitely worth it!
Having tasted it, I am now in search of a good opportunity to cook it, and in the meantime used some of its flavourings in this easy supper dish, which took under half an hour from start to finish. I picked up a chicken breast at the butcher on the way home, and had the other ingredients already in the fridge. You could use shallots rather than leeks (which would be closer to Delia’s recipe) and omit the mushrooms. Doing without the tarragon would be a loss, as it is such a distinctive flavour, but it’s not a herb that I always have to hand (and have never managed to grow successfully); I’m sure using parsley instead would result in a perfectly nice supper.
The quantities here are for one, as I cooked it, but could obviously be multiplied, though remember that you only need enough stock to half cover the chicken, so the quantity you need will depend on the size of your pan and how many chicken breasts you are cooking.
1 chicken breast
a good splash of olive oil
4 chestnut mushrooms
50 ml sherry
1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
3 or 4 sprigs of tarragon
1 tbsp crème fraîche
squeeze of lemon juice
Start by putting the chicken breast on a board, cover it with cling film and give it a few bashes with a rolling pin so that it is a fairly even thickness. Slice the leek and mushrooms. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, season the chicken breast with salt and pepper and brown it on each side.
Take the chicken out of the pan and put on one side. Add the leeks to the pan and allow to soften a little. Replace the chicken breast, pour over the sherry and sherry vinegar and let it bubble up for a few minutes. Add half the tarragon and enough stock to half cover the chicken and leeks, bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
Take the lid off, turn the chicken over, add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until the chicken and mushrooms are cooked through. Chop the remaining tarragon leaves.
Remove the chicken and vegetables to the plate. If necessary, turn the heat up to reduce the amount of liquid to about a teacup-full, then stir in the crème fraîche and let it bubble for a few moments. Check the seasoning, adding a squeeze of lemon juice if needed. Pour the sauce over the chicken and scatter with the chopped tarragon leaves. I served this with rice, but new potatoes and some beans or peas would also be delicious alongside it.