It’s time to take care of ourselves, says MasterChef quarter-finalist and WanderSups founder Hannah Gregory, who shows us a delicious way. . .
Winner, winner chicken dinner – one of my favourite sayings and meals of all time.
Winter for me is always about slowing the pace, getting warm and cosy and, of course, filling up with comforting, nourishing food. I am going to take a bit of poetic license here and not take this too literally – there is no space for nuts and seeds in this recipe but it is a little special and is easily scalable – be it a dinner for two or your special six.
Lots of us are back in a position where we have time on our hands, so what better way to use it than taking a little longer on a supper. Make an occasion of a weekend meal, light the candles, crack open the wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion.
It’s important that we take care of ourselves right now, both physically and mentally, and what better way to show yourself some love than via the power of food. A wise lady once told me that if you cook with love you can taste it. And whilst I thought she was slightly bonkers and I couldn’t tell you what flavour profile love has, she was right. Because if you cook angry or upset, nine times out of ten something will go wrong and you will be left with a below-par meal. So channel all your love into your food and cooking and show people how much you care with a special meal.
This dish is one of the most popular selections at my private dining events, it not only tastes spectacular but looks it as well. It is heavy on the butter and cream, it is indulgent, it is everything we owe ourselves in this trying time. Don’t be intimidated by the steps, this is one of those that looks way more complicated than it is. Just break it down, work through it methodically and reap the rewards. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Tipple of choice – in the spirit of low food miles etc, etc, there are some fantastic English sparkling white wines that go stupendously with chicken. My personal fave is NYEtimber Classic Cuvee which combines Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes making the perfect pairing.
Spotify playlist – WanderSups Let’s cook (to cook), WanderSups Sups (to dine).
PANCETTA WRAPPED CHICKEN BALLOTINE STUFFED WITH WILD MUSHROOMS & PANCETTA, CELERIAC FONDANTS, CELERIAC PUREE, CANDIED SHALLOTS AND CRISPY CAVOLO NERO
(Optional fancy garnishes of crispy chicken skin, crispy sage and a sage & thyme oil)
2 skin on chicken breasts (if possible get these from the butcher as they are always bigger and easier for ballotines)
1 packet of pancetta rashers
5g dried wild mushrooms
85g chestnut mushrooms
40g streaky bacon
1 small onion
1 clove of garlic
Grating of nutmeg
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
Salt & peps
For the celeriac fondants:
1 big knob of butter
1 fat clove of garlic
Bunch of fresh thyme
Small bunch of fresh rosemary
For the celeriac purée:
125g celeriac trim (offcuts from the celeriac fondants)
100ml full fat milk
50ml double cream
75ml chicken stock
For the cavolo nero:
Glug of olive oil
1 fat clove of garlic
For the candied shallots:
100g caster sugar
Sprig of fresh thyme
Garnishes (if using):
For the crispy chicken skin:
Chicken skin removed from breasts above
Big pinch of flaky salt
For the sage leaves:
Veg oil for frying
6 sage leaves
For the sage & thyme oil:
Big bunch of sage
Big bunch of thyme
Cup of olive oil
A quick note on the order I would do it in, but march to your own tune if you wish. If you are going all in and making the herb oil, do this two days before. Make your ballotines and crispy chicken skin (if using) the morning of. The whole dish will take about an hour to bring together – get your celeriac under way first and then the shallots. Whilst they are in the oven doing their thing, poach and sear the chicken. In the last 5 minutes put the cavolo nero in the oven and fry the sage leaves.
The sage oil (if using):
Bring a pan of water to the boil and drop in the herbs, stalks and all, and blanch for 3 minutes.
Set up a bowl of ice water and refresh the herbs in the ice water. Drain the herbs and wring out all the moisture you can.
Add to a nutribullet (or use a stick blender) with the cup of oil and blitz till smooth.
Set up a coffee filter in a sieve over a bowl and transfer the green purée into this. Leave for two days for the oil to collect in the bowl, transfer to a bottle. This will keep for a few months and is delicious on pasta.
Preheat your oven to 190C.
Soak the dried mushrooms in 50ml of boiling water for 20 minutes. While they soak, finely slice your streaky bacon and fry in the butter until crispy. Remove from the pan leaving the bacon-y butter behind.
Chop your onion finely and fry in the bacon butter pan until softened.
Whilst the onion is softening, drain the soaked mushrooms squeezing out every last drop of juice. Finely chop the soaked mushrooms and chestnut mushrooms then add to the softened onion with the sage, nutmeg, a good whack of salt and peps and the crispy bacon.
Stir well to make sure everything is covered in the butter. When the mushrooms start to release their juices turn the heat down to its lowest setting and allow to cook out until the pan is dry and all the juice has evaporated. You should be left with a sort of mushroom paste – this will take about 30 minutes.
Whilst that is happening, crack on with your chicken skin (if using). Remove the skin from the breasts and lay flat on a chopping board skin side down. Using the back of a knife scrape off any excess fat so you are left with super thin skin.
Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper, place the chicken skin on to it, stretching it out so it’s as thin as possible, sprinkle with flaky salt and a drizzle of olive oil, lay another sheet of greaseproof paper over the top and then place another baking tray on top of that to ensure the skin stays flat while you cook it.
Place in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Once the time is up, check it is a nice golden brown. If it needs longer, take off the top baking sheet and layer of greaseproof paper and put it back in the oven for a couple of minutes. Leave to cool, then put in an airtight container ‘til ready to use.
Once the mushroom paste is where it should be, take it off the heat and leave it to cool completely.
Roll out a piece of cling film on a work surface and lay on six rashers of pancetta slightly overlapping so that you have a pancetta oblong.
Place a chicken breast in the middle and fold back the mini fillet cutting deeper if needed so it opens out like a book.
Spoon the cold mushroom mix into the centre and then fold the chicken back over. Use the cling film to help you to pull the pancetta slices towards you creating a cylinder and then roll the whole thing holding on to the ends to create a really tight cylindrical package. Tie the ends and leave in the fridge for at least an hour to chill.
When it is time to cook the chicken, drop the parcels into lightly simmering water and poach for 15 minutes.
Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan. Remove the parcels from the water and carefully remove the cling film, gently fry them in the hot butter being careful not to be too rough, until golden all over.
Preheat the oven to 190C.
Slice your celeriac into 2cm discs. Using a small cooking cutter, cut out rounds of celeriac – you need 3 per person.
Melt the butter in an ovenproof frying pan, smash the clove of garlic with the back of a knife and toss into the butter along with the thyme and rosemary. Once the butter is foaming add in the celeriac discs and season well. Fry until lightly golden on each side and then transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Whilst that is happening put all the ingredients for the celeriac purée into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until the celeriac is tender. Transfer to a blender and blitz till smooth.
The candied shallots:
Cut each shallot in half lengthways.
Pop a heavy-based ovenproof frying pan on a medium heat, add the butter and sugar and allow to melt. Place the onions into the pan, cut-side down, and sprinkle over salt and thyme leaves. Allow to caramelise (about 10 minutes).
Carefully lift an onion to check on progress – they should be a nice golden colour. Cover the pan with foil and put into the oven for 20 minutes.
Once cool enough to handle, remove the skins.
The cavolo nero:
Remove the stalks then chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Put into a large freezer bag with a glug of oil, salt and peps and crush in the clove of garlic. Seal the bag and give it all a good massage. Leave to marinade for a few minutes.
Tip your flavoured cavolo nero onto a baking tray and pop in the oven for 4 minutes. Watch it closely as it catches very quickly.
The crispy sage (if using):
Heat 1cm of veg oil in a heavy-based frying pan until shimmering. Add the sage leaves and fry until crisp.
To plate: Carefully slice the ballotines into 3 discs and place around the plate, next to each piece of chicken place a celeriac fondant, then fill the gaps with the candied shallots and cavolo nero. The aim here is to create a ring of deliciousness that you can then fill with the purée. Spoon the celeriac purée into the centre of the plate and then garnish with the crispy chicken skin and sage. Drizzle the herb oil over the purée and around the plate, et voila.
Find out about Hannah’s upcoming Supper Clubs and what she is currently cooking via Instagram: @WanderSups wandersups.com