Chicken Forestière – a classic taste of Autumn. It is Autumn again, and possibly my favourite time of year for cooking, as it’s the season of stews and casseroles and proper puddings. Chicken Forestière is a real favourite and is packed full of the autumnal flavours of mushrooms, thyme, and garlic. My recipe is made with chicken thighs, my favourite cut. These make it relatively quick to cook too, so you don’t need the patience required of a really slow braise.
What is Forestière / à la Forestière?
À la Forestière is the French terminology for a traditional garnish of sautéed Morel mushrooms, Pommes Parisienne and can include lardons of bacon or salt pork. The garnish is often simplified to just mushrooms. If you see Forestière in the name of a dish it will most likely contain mushrooms. À la Forestière literally means ‘of the forest. À la Forestière is normally served with fowl or pork.
My suggestion to drink with your Chicken Forestière is a fruity New World Pinot Noir which is a perfect match with the earthy flavours of the mushrooms, nutmeg, and thyme. The relatively high acidity helps balance the rich creamy sauce.
My Chicken Forestière
Sauce forestière starts with some lightly caramelised shallots and garlic softened in plenty of butter. I also like to use the rendered fat from cooking the chicken thighs which adds lots of flavour. You then add pre-soaked dried morels or any mix of mushrooms. This adds the rich, earthy flavour that defines the sauce. Then a mix of fresh sautéed Oyster, Porcini or Paris Brown mushrooms. Really any mix of mushrooms you can find is great. Thyme, freshly grated nutmeg and a kick of brandy or masala wine add layers of flavour. You then finish the sauce with lashings of thick cream.
- 2 large heavy-bottomed Non-stick frying pans
- 5-6 large free-range Chicken thighs
- 100 gr Porcini Mushrooms
- 100 gr Paris Brown or Chestnut mushrooms cleaned and sliced
- 30 gr dried Morel, Porcini or mixed wild mushrooms
- 100 gr Banana Shallots peeled and very finely chopped
- 4 large cloves Garlic peeled and crushed
- 150 ml quality Chicken Stock
- 150 ml thick Jersey Double Cream
- 50 gr Unsalted Jersey Butter
- 2 tablespoons quality Olive Oil
- A generous slug Brandy
- A sprig of Thyme
- 1 heaped tablespoon Parsley washed, dried, and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Tarragon freshly chopped
- ¼ teaspoon Nutmeg freshly grated
- Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
- Boil a kettle of freshly drawn water and place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl. When the water has boiled pour enough into the bowl to cover the mushrooms. Leave for at least a couple of hours to rehydrate the mushrooms.
- Heat the butter and olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan over a medium heat and place in the chicken skin side down. Season the chicken and cook until the skin is golden-brown and crisp. This can take up to fifteen minutes, don’t rush this stage, the idea is for crispy but not burnt, perfectly cooked chicken pieces.
- Turn the chicken over, generously season the skin, add the thyme and continue to gently cook the chicken for another ten minutes. To check the chicken is cooked insert the tip of a small, sharp knife into the centre of the chicken thigh next to the bone. Count to ten then pull out the knife and very quickly tap the back of your hand with the tip. If it feels hot the chicken is done.
- Set the chicken aside on a plate cover with foil and leave to rest somewhere warm while you finish the sauce.
- Reduce the heat under the pan to medium and spoon in the shallots. Sautee the shallots until they start to soften and are starting to colour, then add the garlic. Cook for another couple of minutes stirring continuously.
- Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the brandy and boil off the alcohol. THE HOT BRANDY MAY FLAME. Add the thyme, rehydrated mushrooms, the liquid the mushrooms were soaked in, nutmeg, and the chicken stock, bring to the boil, and reduce by half. Add the cream bring to the boil again and simmer for five minutes.
- In a separate pan cook the sliced mushrooms without oil or butter until any moisture is evaporates and they are evenly coloured. Add these mushrooms and chicken to the sauce and return to the heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes until the chicken is thorough reheated.
- Check for seasoning and swirl in the chopped herbs and serve with mashed potatoes or rice.