Friday, 16 January 2015

Chicken and bacon pasta

This sounds boring, but the sauce turned out really well, so... It's a grown-up pasta bake in a cheesy, herby, winey sauce topped with parmesan and crumbled crispy chicken skin.

Serves 2

Three chicken thighs, skin on.
A good handful of diced bacon
Four handfuls of fusilli (or whatever you like)
A small shallot
A clove of garlic
A stick of celery
Dried fines herbes or tarragon
A third of a bottle of dry white wine (NOT oaked)
A quarter of a litre of chicken stock
A hundred millilitres of double cream (possibly more)
A good handful of grated gruyere
A tablespoon of plain flour
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Grated parmesan for sprinkling

Heat the stock if using fresh.

Fry the bacon slowly in a non-stick frying pan till crispy. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

Mince the shallot and the garlic and finely chop the celery.

Cook the pasta, refresh in cold water and drain.

Remove the skin from the chicken and fry it (the skin) slowly in the bacon fat till golden brown, pressing down to get it nice and crispy. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

De-bone the chicken if necessary, trim any sinew and excess fat and slice the meat into thickish strips. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan and stir-fry the chicken strips on a medium-to-high heat for three to four minutes, till nearly cooked. Remove from the pan and turn the heat down to medium-low.

Add the shallot to the saucepan and fry gently for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Finally add the celery and cook for another minute or two.

Turn the heat up high and pour in the wine. Add a teaspoon of whatever dried herbs you're using. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer till reduced by at least half.

Pour in half the hot chicken stock, bring to the boil and sieve in the flour, whisking as you go. Simmer for five minutes, then stir in the double cream. Simmer for five to ten minutes till thickening well, then stir in the gruyere on a very low heat till melted. Season to taste, remembering that salty bacon is going to be added.

Add the almost-cooked chicken and the bacon and stir, then put the lid on and leave for another five or ten minutes till the chicken is fully cooked.

Heat the oven to 180C.

Break the crispy chicken skin into crumbs. Mix the pasta with the sauce, adding a dash of cream if needed, and transfer to an oven dish. Sprinkle over some more dried herbs, then the grated parmesan.

Place the dish in the oven for ten minutes, then sprinkle over the chicken skin crumbs and bake for another five to ten minutes, till the sauce is bubbling and the top is beginning to brown.

Serve with crusty bread.

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