It’s a bank holiday in Britain today, which means I have time to cook something a little more complicated. But, although more time-consuming, this is still a relatively fast and easy dish (I’d say two hours from start to finish, and the last 45 minutes of that is the chicken doing its thing without you) and light on the shopping. I’ve had Delia Smith’s Summer Collection on my book shelf for nearly twenty years and in every one of those years, give or take a few, I’ve made this recipe. Chicken with vinegar is a French classic and as soon as the first sunshine arrives and, along with it, the new potatoes I think of this. If you have the energy, buy a whole chicken and joint it: it’s really just five or six sharp cuts through the bird and you’ll have more chicken and less cost. In terms of substitutions, Delia’s recipe includes tarragon and, although it is brilliant with it, it’s equally brilliant without it. Also, if you can’t find sour cream you can use fresh. I serve it with new potatoes and asparagus though Delia recommends peas.
Chicken with Sherry Vinegar (adapted from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection)
Serves about four
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil (about 20g if you haven’t got a tablespoon)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.75kg chicken whole chicken, or four chicken legs
150ml sherry vinegar
425ml medium sherry
12 shallots (if you have nine or ten no one is going to complain)
2 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves plus a few for garnish (optional)
1 heaped tbsp crème fraîche (or sour cream)
Veg to go with it (new pots, couscous, asparagus and fresh peas are all good choices)
1. First joint the chicken.
2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and brown the chicken pieces on all sides until brown. You’ll probably have to do this in stages since it won’t all fit in one frying pan.
3. Once all the chicken is brown (it should take about 20 minutes), remove it from the frying pan (reserving the oil and juices) and place it in a large saucepan or casserole dish big enough for the lot.
4. Now brown the shallots and garlic in the same frying pan for about five minutes.
5. Next, tip the shallots and garlic in the large saucepan with the chicken, add the tarragon (if you’re using it), sherry vinegar and sherry. Put it over a medium heat and bring it up to a simmer then lower the heat slightly (the liquid should be lightly, not ferociously bubbling) and leave it for about twenty minutes.
6. After twenty minutes, move the pieces around so that those that were on the top go to the bottom and vice versa. This ensures that every bit of chicken gets cooked in the lovely sauce, turning the pieces a wonderful colour.
7. After another twenty minutes, take the chicken, shallots and garlic out of the saucepan and put them in a serving bowl/dish then turn the heat up slightly under the sauce and stir in the cream. Season, then pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.