Saturday, 21 August 2010

Pan fried chicken supreme with a fennel, sweet potato and Parmesan gratin

Don't be scared, this 'supreme' isn't the creamy sauced beige chicken you might have encountered in your childhood!

I'm really liking this cut of chicken; the breast and first half of the wing attached and in this case with the skin on and bone in the wing. Apparently it's a traditional French cut but that doesn't mean it's difficult to cook - far from it. And as it gives a bit more interest both visually and in terms of taste, in my book it's a winner and you'll find it at your local butchers if you fancy trying it out.

I'm always really excited to find a new vegetable accompaniment. As much as 'straight veg' on the sides of things is ok, I particularly like them in combinations with one another - for instance, ratatouille is a fave of mine. So finding this little dish in a Scottish bistro during Edinburgh Festival last week delighted me.

Now, I didn't ask the chef how it was prepared, more did my usual dish dissection to figure out what it contained and how it was cooked. This has turned out a little different but still (might I say) delicious, and it goes beautifully with a lovely crispy skinned chicken breast. Add some greens if you feel the need to be good.

For two (with some gratin left for the following day):
Two chicken supremes (chicken breasts with the wing attached, I like them skin on and bone in as it tastes amazing and helps presentation) - if you can't get supremes then two breasts with the skin on will do just fine
One fat fennel bulb
One large sweet potato, peeled
400mls single cream
150mls white wine
One golden onion, peeled
100g grated Parmesan
Sea salt and black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Oil for frying (veg or groundnut)

- Preheat your oven to 190 degrees
- Using a mandolin (easy and fast so a worthwhile piece of kit to have, and its not expensive to buy) shave your sweet potato and fennel into slices around 2mm thick, and your onion into 1mm thick slices
- In a frying pan on a medium heat add a knob of butter and some oil and when the butter starts to foam add the onions and a scrunch of salt to the pan
- Fry for around 6 minutes, turning over until they become golden, once they start to take on the colour add the garlic and cook for a further three minutes before turning the heat off, you're wanting them to be lightly golden, not brown
- In a small saucepan add your cream and wine and a little scrunch of salt and lots of black pepper and bring to the simmer, turn the heat off and add about three quarters of the Parmesan cheese until its all melted into the sauce
- In a baking dish place a fine layer of the fennel (a third of the fennel), followed by all of the onions, then a layer of the sweet potatoes, then repeat with the fennel and sweet potatoes until you've finished - the potatoes should be the top layer
- Now pour all of the cream, wine and cheese mixture over the vegetables and finally top with the remaining Parmesan. Give a good scrunch of black pepper and top with a tent of foil (meaning a cover that doesn't touch the contents) then pop into the oven for 45 minutes
- After 45 minutes remove the foil and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes to just brown the tops a little
- When you've taken the foil off, get a frying pan and add a knob of butter and some frying oil, heat on a medium-high heat until the butter starts to foam, at this point salt and pepper the skin of the chicken and place them skin side down in the pan
- Cook skin side down and move a couple of times in the pan so they don't stick, for around 7 minutes, then salt and pepper the upturned sides before turning over and cooking for a further seven minutes, the skin and flesh will become deliciously golden and juicy
- Now its time to take the gratin out of the oven (but don't turn the oven off), just let it sit to one side until the chicken has done (it's always a little better when its cooled ever so slightly and has set a bit more)
- After the chicken has fried on both sides, place it into the oven in a roasting tin or on a baking sheet, and cook for 11 minutes (it might need one minute more or less depending on how big the breast is)
- Cut a slice of your gratin out of the baking sheet and place it on a plate (now its cooled slightly it shouldn't collapse but stay more firm and set) then remove your chicken from the oven, slice the breast in half length ways (so through its centre) and place on top
- Serve and devour, we like it on its own but you could have it with some buttered mange tout, and a glass of white vino goes very nicely indeed (of course!)

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