First you need a bird! Ideally, if you can buy a cockerel so much the better, but it works well with a capon or an old boiling fowl, if you can still get one. You can cook it with chicken, but as chicken cooks much faster it needs to be removed when cooked (about 45 mins) and kept warm in the oven wrapped in foil while the sauce finishes. Again, it’s one of those dishes best prepared the day before and then reheated when required which does make things so much easier when you are entertaining. So, here goes………
- 2kg cockerel, or capon or chicken cut into large pieces (chicken thighs and legs would work)
- 15-20 small onions peeled but left whole
- 200g lardons or thick cut streaky bacon (diced)
- 1 level tbsp plain flour
- 1 bottle robust red wine (cabernet sauvignon will do. We use burgundy, but of course it’s cheaper here!)
- 1 sprig of thyme
- Salt and pepper
Take a large cast iron casserole and sweat the lardons and onions until the fat runs and they start to take colour. Remove and set to one side. Season the poultry pieces with salt and pepper and seal them all over a few bits at a time in the bacon fat (Add some vegetable oil if needed).
Return all the pieces to the casserole and sprinkle with the flour. Turn the pieces to make sure they are all coated. Pour in the wine, add the sprig of thyme, bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently until cooked. With a cockerel or boiling fowl this can take up to two hours by which time the sauce will have thickened nicely. However, if using chicken which will be cooked in under an hour take it out and continue to simmer the sauce for another 45 mins to an hour until it has reduced and thickened. Check seasoning and serve with a baked potato.
As mentioned above, it’s best turned off, left to cool and then reheated the next day. (If you’ve used chicken put it back into the sauce now).