Occasional recipes: chicken that is really pork with mushrooms

The first requirement for this is to get a recipe card from Waitrose for chicken with mushrooms, then note that you had chicken two days earlier and could do with a change. So what the hell, make it pork instead.

The second is to cook it on Jeans for Genes day, meaning everyone at work has a cake bake and you come home laden with pieces of delicious chocolate and coffee cake, so you can scoff them down for dessert.


  • 1 ready to cook chicken breast joint (a.k.a. 3 pork chops)
  • 250g asparagus
  • 100g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp vegetable stock
  • 4 tbsp creme fraiche
  • 20g chopped parsley
  • 1 sweet potato

All the above quantities apart from the chops are intended for two, so to serve three, round up to whatever seems like a good approximation.

1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5 and roast chicken for 50 mins (or preheat to 175 degrees/gas mark 4 and roast chops for an hour. Put them on a rack in a shallow roasting tin, fill with water but not enough to touch the chops, and cover with foil. I’ve no idea why the water – I just looked up how to roast pork chops and that is what Mr Google told me).

2. Ten minutes before the chicken/pork is ready, drizzle olive oil over asparagus on a baking tray and add it to the oven.

3. Meanwhile, fry the mushrooms in olive oil for a couple of minutes, then add mustard and stock and stir in.

4. Add creme fraiche and stir in with the parsley.

Serve the chops with the sauce, roasted asparagus and sweet potato wedges which you have been quietly roasting for the last 35-40 minutes, having parboiled them for ten minutes before that. This is why you should always read the entire recipe before starting. I may write to whoever does the Waitrose recipe cards and point out that putting a key starting point last in the instructions would just be asking for trouble with a less careful cook …

Oh, and here’s another tip. If you have a baking tray sitting on top of the oven, and one corner is sticking into the flame beneath a saucepan, and you want to pick it up, try not to let the bit that was sticking into the flame touch your thumb. Or you may have cause to utter rude words and spend ten minutes with your hand beneath a cold water tap, then get a blister that stretches from the base of your thumb to the joint. Just saying.

Occasional recipes: chicken fricassee

This one really was a pleasant surprise. Though it’s reasonably lengthy, everything is quite sequential with no sudden surprises like “now add in the mushrooms that you marinaded for 24 hours earlier”. Also, because a fricassee is a white stew, the instructions were heavy on not letting anything burn or even get brown. I was mostly successful.

So, from The Cook’s Recipe Collection:

  • 60g butter
  • 3 chicken legs, skinned [to serve 4, they say 1.4 kg chicken quartered & skinned]
  • 570ml / 1 pint chicken stock
  • grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 bouquet garni [had no idea what this was so just added chopped lemon thyme at the required moment]
  • 12-16 button onions
  • 340g mushrooms, whole or chopped if large
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 90ml double cream
  • 3 tbsps milk (optional) [which is as well because I forgot]
  • 2 tbsps chopped fresh parsley
  • lemon slices to garnish [also optional/forgotten]

Melt 45g of the butter and cook the chicken (one piece at a time if necessary) until no longer pink. Don’t let it get brown. When sufficiently cooked, remove from pan and set aside.

Stir the flour into the butter bit by bit over a low heat, stirring continuously, until it’s all a pale straw colour. Remove pan from heat and gradually stir in the stock. When all blended smoothly, add lemon rind and juice. Return to heat and bring to boil, whisking constantly. Simmer for 1 minute.

Return the chicken to the pan and add the bouquet garni [if you’ve worked out what one of those is; just add the thyme if not]. The sauce should almost cover the chicken [so I added a further 1/3 pint of stock]. Bring to the poil, cover pan and simmer for 40 minutes.

Melt remaining button in a pan, add the onions, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes. Don’t let them brown! Remove onions with a slotted spoon [i.e. leaving the juice behind] and add to the chicken. Cook the mushrooms in the remaining butter and add to the chicken 10 minutes before the end.

Transfer chicken to a serving plate and remove the bouquet garni. Recipe then says to skim the sauce of any fat and boil to reduce by half; Ben says there’s not much fat and it’s already quite thick enough.

Blend the egg yolks and cream together and whisk in several spoonfuls of the hot sauce. Return the mixture to the remaining sauce and cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Stir constantly and don’t let it boil. If it is very thick, add the milk [ah, that’s what I didn’t do]. Stir in the parsley.

At this point Ben’s serving style takes over: plonk a bed of couscous on each plate, put a piece of chicken on top of it, and spoon the sauce over. Or you can do what the book says: put the chicken pieces in a serving dish and spoon the sauce over it.

Serves four if you do it their way, three quite comfortably if you do it mine.