I feel like I have been away for ages. Since Monday night I have been to Bradford, Knutsford, Northern France and Stevenage. All for work. During this time, I have eaten some great curry, enjoyed a fabulous dinner at a Loch Fyne restaurant, discovered a new type of potato (ratte du Touquet), eaten an unidentifiable piece of meat (could have been pork, could just have easily been veal), devoured one of the best apple tarts EVER, caught a hideous cold and cooked.... absolutely nothing.
Yes, I have definitely been having withdrawal symptoms from my beloved kitchen. I intend to make up for this tonight (despite the hideous cold). Firstly, I must just rave briefly about the impressive meal I enjoyed at the newly opened branch of Loch Fyne restaurant in Knutsford, Cheshire. I am a bit funny about 'chain' restaurants. Even though the Loch Fyne brand is clearly one with which I associate excellent fish and produce, I was sceptical. I had recently eaten in a local branch of a restaurant chain with a similar concept (I'll name no names) and despite the exorbitant prices and dazzling array of beautiful fishes I was very disappointed.
Not so at Loch Fyne. I ordered poached smoked haddock with mash, peas, spinach and wholegrain mustard sauce. It was cooked to perfection with a divine flavour and gloriously comforting feel to it. My mother deemed her scallops to be 'the best she'd ever eaten' and my father devoured his crabcakes with similar enthusiasm. Fabulous.
Did I mention the wholegrain mustard sauce? Yes? Well that brings me oh-so-neatly onto the chicken dish in the picture. Not particularly photogenic, I'll agree, but so so very good. Comforting and autumnal, this hit the spot last week when I needed something fast(ish), tasty and filling.
Mustardy Mushroom Chicken
Ingredients (serves 2)
2 chicken breasts
1 large red or white onion or 4 shallots
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 handfuls of mushrooms (mine were fairly ordinary, but you could go for something more exotic)
2 glasses white wine
2 heaped teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard
2 heaped teaspoons wholegrain mustard
4 tablespoons double cream
1. Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan/casserole with a lid. Add onions and garlic and soften.
2. Add mushrooms and fry until just soft. Tip onion/mushroom mixture into a bowl and set to one side.
3. Return pan to heat and add chicken breasts. Seal the chicken, adding a touch more oil if necessary.
4. Pour wine over the chicken breasts and season well. Cover with lid and simmer for approx 14 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Chicken should be almost covered in the liquid - if not, you may like to add a little boiling water or stock.
5. Remove chicken from pan, cover and keep warm.
6. Turn up heat under pan and let liquid reduce by one third. Add mushroom and onion mixture back to pan. Then add mustards and finally the cream.
7. Allow sauce to bubble gently until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and season accordingly. Pour over chicken breasts.
Notes - I served this with comforting mash and runner beans. The beans were sliced using my favourite kitchen gadget - my runner bean slicer! No doubt everyone has one of these and I am the last to discover it, but I think it is brilliant. It simply takes off the stringy bits at the sides and cuts the beans into perfect strips. Just how I like them....!
Wine Notes - I enjoyed this with a Pinot Noir from Burgundy. A St Aubin, to be precise.