Chicken with tarragon, corn and vermouth
A very 1970s (and utterly delicious) late supper dish, this can be made ahead and assembled from the fridge. Either bake it topped with corn-flecked rough puff latticed across, or cook in a saucepan and serve with hot buttered toast.
700g chicken thigh meat, off the bone and cut into big chunks
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
25g unsalted butter
420g tin sweetcorn
1 tbsp plain flour
3 tsp dried tarragon
125ml double cream
3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tsp Tabasco sauce
salt to taste
½ batch corn-flecked rough puff
1 egg, beaten
1. Have the chicken ready in a bowl.
2. Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan-forced.
3. Place the onions and butter in a saucepan with about 75 millilitres of water and a teaspoon of salt, put the lid on and cook on a high heat for about 10 minutes until the onions soften and the water evaporates. Stir often. Adjust the heat towards the end to keep the onions pale.
4. In a blender, puree half the corn and the liquid from the tin with the vermouth and flour until smooth, then add to the pan with the tarragon and boil until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces, and a touch more salt to taste.
4. Stir in the raw chicken and spoon into a deep three-litre baking dish.
5. Top with a lattice of rough-puff brush pastry with beaten egg and bake for about 45 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden and the chicken is piping hot and cooked through. Alternatively, you could cook the chicken in the saucepan and serve with hot buttered toast.
Corn-flecked rough puff pastry
Cornmeal adds a rich yellow hue and crunch to this intensely buttery pastry. It's great as the upper crust for a savoury pie. If you're into cooking and haven't ever made a rough puff, give this a go. It's easier than classic puff pastry and endlessly variable.
Corn-flecked rough puff
25g cornmeal or uncooked polenta
75g ice cubes
2 egg yolks
350g white bread flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
250g unsalted butter, fridge cold
extra flour for rolling
1. Put the cornmeal and water in a saucepan (you can weigh 125g of water instead of measuring 125ml), bring to the start of a boil then remove from the heat and spoon into a jug. Add the ice cubes and stir until melted and cold then beat in the egg yolks.
2. Put the flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into roughly 1.5-centimetre cubes, toss them in the flour then add the cornmeal liquid and mix everything together while keeping the butter in lumps. Add extra flour if it feels very soft, as it should come together as a firm lumpy dough. Compared with shortcrust it will feel utterly weird, but rolling will smooth everything.
3. Wrap the dough in cling film, pat it slightly flat then freeze it for 30 minutes.
4. Heavily dust a patch of worktop with flour, put the dough on it, and using extra flour on top, roll the dough into a rectangle about 1.5 centimetres thick. It will be messy, but just fold it in on itself in thirds, give it a quarter turn so the folded edges are to the left and right of you, then roll it out once more and again fold it in on itself in thirds.
5. Wrap and chill the dough in the freezer until the butter firms again, then roll and fold the dough twice more. Wrap and chill the dough once more, roll and fold the dough twice more then it's ready. Either use immediately, wrap and chill for a few days, or freeze up to a couple of months (thaw before using).
Makes 850g pastry