The secret ingredient in this delicious casserole is apple cider vinegar. The sharpness of the vinegar is balanced with the sweet shallots and sultanas and mellowed with slow cooking. With their powers combined, the sweet and the sour make this a refreshing, heart warming winter warmer. I served it with fresh roasted chestnuts to highlight the earthiness and pumpkin to highlight the sweetness.
This delicious chicken casserole is inspired by a dish I saw on a cooking TV show that is new to ABC, Nigel Slater’s Simple Cooking. I like the show immensely. I really like Nigel Slater. It’s a totally unpretentious show, which is a bit of a relief in the current overcrowded cooking show line-up. The show explores the classic flavour combinations, the first of which was sweet and sour. He highlighted a range of helpful points for me. But I was particularly taken aback by one dish he cooked; a baked chutney with salmon, which was the inspiration for this dish. Personally I think ‘baked chutney and salmon’ sounds dreadful, but the ingredients and technique he used made for a delicious sounding and looking dish. I suggest you look it up online.
|1||chicken, cut into 6 pieces|
|1/2||cup||apple cider vinegar|
|1/4||teaspoon||fresh ground black pepper|
Preheat the oven to 140oC. Place the shallots (skins and all) in a small saucepan and cover with water. Gently simmer for about 30 minutes to soften the onions and enhance their sweetness.
Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a frying pan and brown the carrot and celery. Squeeze the onions from their skins into a casserole dish. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine sieve into a casserole dish. Add the browned carrot and celery, sultanas, brown sugar, thyme and bay leaves.
Bring the remaining vegetable oil to a high heat. Fry the chicken pieces, browning well all over, in batches if required. Place the chicken pieces atop the vegetables in the casserole dish. Turn the heat off and deglaze the pan with the vinegar. Add the vinegar to the casserole dish and season. Cover and bake at 140oC for 90 minutes. Remove the casserole from the oven, and turn the chicken pieces over so they are skin side up. Increase the oven temperature to 220oC return the casserole, uncovered, to the oven for 30 minutes for the skin to darken.
Remove from the oven and serve with roasted pumpkin and chestnuts.