On a cold winter’s evening, I’m generally only interested in three things – a warm meal, a glass of vino, and my passion-killer pink bunny slippers. Since I haven’t yet let my standards drop to the extent where I’ll go out in public in my slippers, I naturally think twice when an invite for an evening ‘do’ lands in my inbox in winter. Fortunately, my love of good food and wine trumps my fondness for my bunny slippers.
So last Thursday, appropriately shod, I drove into town to Kyoto Garden Sushi in Lower Kloofnek Road for an evening with the lovely people from KWV. Fresh from cleaning up at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show with their flagship The Mentors wines and a few others, there were broad smiles all around. But I wasn’t there to taste The Mentors, I was there to get acquainted with their Classic Collection range. Say KWV, and many immediately think brandy (I’m rather partial to a snifter of their 10-year old myself). But of course KWV is about way more than brandy, so I was looking forward to rubbing shoulders with their Classic Collection.
Yellowtail ceviche with Sauvignon Blanc. King crab paired with Chenin. Melt-in-the-mouth Wagyu beef with Shiraz… You get the idea. I was in foodie heaven. (Thanks Kyoto Garden Sushi!) More importantly, I was in wine heaven because this range is right up my street – cheap enough for an everyday tipple and good enough to open for your misguided wine snob mates. I liked the lot, but my favourite of the evening was their Chenin. Retailing shy of R45, it’s full of fruit (as indeed is the entire range), but not in that cloying the-winemaker-could-not-be-bothered kind of way.
At these prices they’re perfect not just for drinking, but for cooking with too, so off I went at the end of a fabulous evening, determined to whip up something with wine. Being as I’m quite a classy sort, Boeuf Bourguinon and Coq Au Vin naturally came to mind. They’re basically the same thing, except for the ‘chicken or beef’ bit. Think thyme, garlic, pearl onions, bacon, button mushrooms and a bottle of red. Pure 70s retro. I went for chicken and used a bottle of KWV Shiraz. It was awesome BUT… white meat cooked in red wine = purple-blue food. About as attractive as a beer-bellied bloke in a Speedo. Not exactly the kind of thing I want to photograph. So I threw tradition out the window and made it again – with white wine. And because I’d already broken the rules, I added a dollop of crème fraîche too.
All you need is…
Pack of 8 chicken thighs and legs
12 small pickling onions, peeled and left whole if they’re small enough, or cut in half
150-200g mushrooms (I used an ‘Exotic’ mushroom mix from Woolworths, but ordinary button mushrooms are just fine.)
1 small onion, very finely chooped
100g bacon, finely chopped
1 fat clove of garlic, finely chopped
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
500ml dry white wine (I used KWV’s Classic Collection Chenin Blanc)
200g carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
chicken stock (Now normally I would say an ordinary stock cube is fine, but this dish deserves special treatment. I used one sachet of Ina Paarman’s Concentrated Liquid Real Chicken Stock. It’s worth it.)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 heaped tablespoons of crème fraîche
2 tbs flat leaf parsley, chopped
olive oil and butter for frying
Pat the chicken dry with some kitchen towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and fry in 3 tbs of oil until golden. Remove and set aside. Fry the small pickling onions in the same pan until they get some colour, then remove and set aside.
Fry the finely chopped onion and bacon in the same pan until the onions are cooked through and golden. (Take care that you do not burn them.) Add the garlic and mushrooms and fry for two minutes. (If you are using button mushrooms, you can throw it all in now. With my exotic mushroom mix, I sliced and added the meatier ones like shiitake at this stage. The dainty shimeji mushrooms I kept aside and fried briefly in butter at the end before scattering them over the dish with some parsley.)
Add the wine and cook over high heat for two minutes. Now add the stock, thyme, chicken (along with any juices that it released as it stood), the small onions and the carrots. Put the lid on and cook over very low heat until cooked through and tender. Stir in the crème fraîche and cook for two minutes. Add the parsley. Taste for salt (it will probably need some) and give it another grinding of black pepper.
If you’re doing the banting ‘carbs-are-the-root-of-all-evil’ thing, serve this just as is. I enjoy this with a crisp baguette. And of course a glass of wine.