This is a variation of an old South African recipe my son – the musician, CW Stoneking – brought back from the dark continent after his legendary shipwreck several years ago. He claims that they used a local brew rather than the sherry that is here given, but assures those who have not had it in its native environment that the sherry – so long as it is a good one – will prove a satifyung subsititute. There have also been rumours that he wants me to go on the road with him, doing songs and poems – a warm-up act that keeps it all in the family, though I suspect he is probably more interested in travelling with his own personal cook.
For those of you that might wondering what a good meal in the hinterland of the Cape Country might taste like, I heartily suggest this recipe with a heaping helping of music from CW Stoneking’s Jungle Blues album. Check it out via YouTube.com if you havent actually already bought yourself a copy. Good eating!
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon organic, unsalted butter
- 2 large shalots, minced
- 6 tablespoons organic spelt flour
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- 3 3/4 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
- Sizeable clump of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more, to taste
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
- 4 cups 1-inch cubed poached chicken, recipe follows
- 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
- Serving suggestions: Buttered noodles, toast points, biscuits, or crepes.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup of the butter, and saute the shallots until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour, and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Whisk in the sherryand broth and bring to a boil while stirring. Add the parsley and thyme sprigs, lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook the sauce for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the mushrooms until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Strain the sauce into mushrooms and season with the salt, pepper, cayenne, and nutmeg. Whisk in the creme fraiche.
Add the minced parsley, chicken, and chivesto the sauce, and bring to a simmer. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately over noodles, toast points, split baking powder biscuits or wrapped in crepes.
- POACHED CHICKEN
- 10 sprigs parsley
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 small onion, halved
- 1 small carrot, halved
- 1 stalk celery, halved
- 3 pounds chicken breasts halves, on the bone and fat trimmed
- 5 to 6 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
Put the parsley, thyme, onion, carrot, celery, and chicken breastsin a medium saucepan. Cover with the broth, and bring just to a boil. Lower the heat to very low and cover. Poach the chicken for 20 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove the pan from the heat, uncover, and cool the chicken in the liquid for 30 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and reserve the liquid. Bone and skin the chicken and cut the meat into cubes. Discard the bones and skin.
Strain the broth and store, covered, in the refrigerator for 3 days or freeze for later use. Remove any fat from the surface of the broth before using.
SERVES 4 to 6