Monday 11 January 2021

A culinary triumph!

It has been a long time since I did any cooking. The odd dabble perhaps, but since the La Fée Magique left for pastures new some years ago my time in front of the stove has been extremely limited. Les résidents du Chateau L believe that they are in the current situation for the long haul. Mid February may have been toted by our glorious leaders but we're thinking longer than that, so in the absence of going anywhere and doing anything we're trying to think of ways to mix it up a bit. As with many households meal times are one of the core familial events, and one idea we had was to take it turns to try and produce something special at weekends. This Sunday I went first, or as Mrs L would describe it, 845,489,271st.

So on Saturday afternoon I dusted off and donned my ceremonial apron. But wait I hear you exclaim! Saturday? I thought you said Sunday? Indeed dear reader you did, but Coq-au-vin is so much better if prepared the day before. So says Delia, and so that's what I did. Now I have probably posted the odd photo of food here before, I recall a post about various vegetarian triumphs last year or the year before that, but I don't think I have ever done a post about cooking a meal, or at least not for many many years. Back when I was a fully enlisted Domestic Goddess I suppose that something like this could have featured, but that is now a decade ago and largely forgotten. The children all survived, that is what matters.

So here goes. Also, to the reader who felt sufficiently moved to complain that my post about the US Capitol Riots strayed too far from the expected bird content, this contains chicken. Ca va? Anyway, apron on and sleeves rolled up. I couldn't find my tiara. Au boulot! By the way the recipe is from Delia's Complete Cookery Course, the one with a photo of her in a red top smiling radiantly on the front cover, before she started wearing yellow and became a football hooligan.


You basically need chicken bits, bacon, onions, garlic, mushrooms, butter,  herbs and WINE!

This is it towards the end of day one. The chicken and bacon has been browned off, and the onions are doing the same next door. (NB ideally you should use small button onions of the sort that Mrs L allegedly told me were in the freezer but I allegedly wasn't paying attention). Soon I will add them to the main dish and poor in an entire bottle of cheap red plonk. The white bits are two whole cloves of garlic chopped up and sprinkled into the pan. Delia said to crush it but I couldn't be bothered.

Liberally seasoned with pepper and salt, and with both thyme sprigs and bay leaves added, the next step is to leave it to simmer for half an hour. After that turn the bits of chicken over, let the whole dish cool, and whack it in the fridge overnight.


About an hour and a half before the meal haul it out of the fridge and slowly bring the pot back to the boil. After a further fifteen minutes of simmering add all the mushrooms. Again ideally these should be the small button mushrooms on the left, but as we did not have much chicken I elected to bulk it out with the extra ones on the right.

Let it simmer for a further half hour or so. You want those mushrooms to really absorb a lot of the flavour and liquid.

Mmmmm mmmmmmm

Yuck! This is some butter and flour that I had to hand knead into a paste. Unpleasant, but such is the life of a Domestic Goddess. Once this is ready, sieve out all the chicken, bacon, onion and mushroom until all you have is the liquid. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaves at this point. Then put this grotesque lump in the liquid and stir it a lot until the sauce thickens.

This is parsley and adds nothing whatsoever to the dish.

When your sauce is nice and thick recombine everything into a suitable serving dish, sprinkle the parsley on the top to make it look posh, and serve to the famished masses. Time how long they take to eat it versus how long it took you to cook it and complain vociferously about the mismatch.

Et voilà! This step requires cutlery and another bottle of wine. Traditionalists would probably say that rice has no place on the table with a dish of this calibre, and that potatoes and only potatoes should be served. And on plates! They are probably right, but in Chateau L we have only ever served this with rice and in bowls and I would urge you not to knock it until you have tried it.

So there you have it. Many compliments were paid to the chef. Children kept appearing in the kitchen on both Saturday and Sunday, attracted by the frankly divine aromas permeating throughout the entire house. Sunday morning appeared to be actual torture for at least one of them, but by about 1pm the five of us were sat down and tucking in. My eldest daughter thanked me profusely for once again eschewing potatoes, and we all wondered aloud why it was that we hadn't had this dish for years and years? A roaring success, and a major contributor to a Sunday afternoon spent doing very little indeed.


  1. Bravo, mon Chef! Do you really have cheap plonk in your'Chateau'? The Beaune looks good though, apparently a difficult year.
    Rice may be a step too far for me.
    You do realise that this success can only lead to more requests -----. Je te lève un verre.

    1. I used a bottle of Western Cape Shiraz that was delivered by mistake instead of what I ordered. I drank one bottle just to see if I was missing out, decided I wasn't, and put the other aside for cooking.

  2. Never mind Delia, there's a damned fine reason why all the best male chefs in the world are, er male - because we don't follow the rules! We gladly add a bit here, we merrily skip a bit there, we gleefully adapt, we tactfully invent, we carefully consider. Trust me bro, I add Branston pickle and salad cream to my pot noodles, I know exactly what I'm on about. S'okay, you can have that for free. (Oh shoot, probably need to follow up with some clever French phrase. No worries, I got this) - ooooo ehh la gare, petit pois. Bonjour!

    1. It is essential to liberally sprinkle culinary marathons with french phrases. Far more useful than parsley.

  3. Food photography's a thing, I think. You can add providing the pics to recipe books and newspaper and journal articles about food to your bird portfolio and pack in the City whenever you want, I reckon.

    1. How I wish! Right now though a stable job (in so far as it is ever stable) is a godsend.

  4. Looks lovely, properly done husband does this with quorn...I'm sure many people will say that's not as good but I like it

    1. I have to say I am not a fan of meat substitutes at all. If you are going to go veggie just eat vegetables, don't try and pretend. That said I have only eaten it once I think, maybe time to try again.