Recipes | Chicken with Morels & Vin Jaune


Chicken with Morels & Vin Jaune

This is the kind of cooking that reminds me how wonderful French food still is. It comes from Alex Jackson's lovely book Frontières which has recipes from all the regions of France that border other countries or, in the case of the south, North Africa.

Although it includes hard-to-find vin jaune it does make the dish. I suspect you could use fino sherry but it wouldn't taste the same.

If you can't face making it yourself it's often on the menu at Noble Rot, Soho where Alex is head chef.

Alex writes: "A classic dish from the Jura, where the chicken would traditionally have been the most expensive part of the meal – the morels foraged for free in spring and the vin jaune (yellow wine) an affordable local wine.

Nowadays the opposite is true, unless you happen to have a patch of morels in your garden. Vin jaune is a rather special thing; a slightly oxidized wine made from the Savagnin grape, with a flavour not unlike dry sherry – well worth tracking down if you have a pretty penny to spare.

When this is served in the Jura the chicken comes swimming in a vat of cream sauce: c’est correct, as the French say. This will feel luxurious, although it is really a very simple dish: use the best ingredients you can get your hands on and it’s sure to be a winner.

A little trick to boost the vin jaune flavour in the sauce is to splash in a little extra wine at the end, along with some butter and perhaps a squeeze of lemon.

This is traditionally, and best, served with a simple rice pilaf. At the restaurant where I work we add a few crispy curry leaves to the top of the rice – most untraditional, of course, but something that pairs nicely with your glass of vin jaune on the side."

Chicken with Morels and Vin Jaune

Serves 4

For the stock:

500g/ 1lb 2oz chicken wings

An uncooked chicken carcass

½ shallot

½ celery stick

1 bay leaf

1 sprig of thyme

A few black peppercorns

1.5kg/ 3lb 5oz chicken, jointed (you can ask a butcher to do this for you)

Oil and a knob of unsalted butter, for frying

30g/1oz/ 2 tbsp unsalted butter, plus 15g/1oz/1 tbsp (cold, cubed) to finish the sauce

1/2 shallot, finely diced

At least 20 morels – fresh when in season, or dried ones soaked in cold water until soft

A small glass of vin jaune, plus an extra splash at the end to finish the sauce

1 litre/ 1¾ pints/ 4 cups good chicken stock (preferably homemade)

150ml/ 5fl oz/ ¾ cup double cream

Lemon juice (optional)


Preheat the oven to 200°C fan/220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.

First, make the stock. Put the chicken wings and the carcass in a large roasting tin. Put in the hot oven and roast until a light golden brown. Transfer the wings and carcass to a large stockpot (leave the chicken fat in the tin) with the remaining ingredients and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, skim well, then reduce to a simmer for 1½ hours, skimming periodically.

Strain through a sieve, then reduce the liquid by half – you want 1 litre/1¾ pints/4 cups. Set aside while you prepare the chicken.

Season the chicken pieces with salt. Heat a little oil in a large saucepan and brown the pieces on both sides, adding a knob of butter towards the end. When the pieces are golden all over, remove to a plate and pour off the excess fat in the pan.

Melt 30g/1oz/2 tablespoons of butter, then add the diced shallot and a pinch of salt. Cook slowly until the shallot is very soft.

Halve the morels if they are large but leave any small or medium ones whole. Add the mushrooms to the pan and fry gently until they have softened and absorbed some of the butter – season them lightly with salt. Add the vin jaune and simmer until reduced to a syrupy consistency.

Reintroduce the chicken pieces, skin side up, and add the chicken stock – you might not need it all – to almost cover the chicken but leave the golden skin sitting above the liquid.

Half-cover with a lid and cook for 30 minutes at a simmer. The sauce should reduce until it tastes powerful and delicious but bear in mind that the aim is to have a lot of it, so don’t reduce too far (add a little more stock if you think it needs it). Now, pour in the cream and swirl the pot. Simmer slowly for a further 15 minutes or so, until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened slightly.

Remove the chicken to a serving dish that will also hold the sauce. Taste the sauce for salt and finish by whisking in a good splash of vin jaune, the cold cubed butter and maybe a little squeeze of lemon juice. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve, with a rice pilaf on the side.

What to drink: Alex suggests drinking vin jaune with the dish which would be the perfect match but an expensive option. (Majestic has one at the time of writing for £54.99 as part of a mix six deal which is about par for the course.) If. you need more than one bottle I'd supplement it with another savagnin or savagnin/chardonnay blend from the Jura region or an aged white burgundy.

Extracted from ‘Frontières: The Food of France’s Borderlands’ by Alex Jackson (Pavilion Books). Image credit Charlotte Bland. I've suggested using an extra chicken carcass for the stock rather than the carcass from the jointed chicken Alex suggests as it doesn't look as if the chicken pieces are taken off the bone.

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