This is a succulent wintry dish with a deep umami kick from the dried porcini and layers of flavour from the pancetta, caramelised vegetables, herbs and wine.
1 free-range chicken, about 1.6kg, cut in 8
5 sprigs thyme
2 fresh bay leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
5 thick slices pancetta, sliced into lardons (batons)
5 eschalots, peeled and sliced thickly
8 cloves garlic, smashed, skin on
3 stalks celery, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
15g dried porcini, soaked in about 200ml boiling water for about 20 minutes, liquid reserved
300g small Swiss brown mushrooms, cut in half (tiny ones left whole)
300ml dry white wine
500ml chicken stock
1. Strip the leaves from the thyme into a mortar with the bay leaves, salt and black pepper and smash to a paste — you can add a little oil to the herbs to lift them from the mortar. Massage the herbs into the chicken pieces.
2. In a large wide-based pot, brown the chicken pieces well in oil, season again and reserve. You want good deep colour on the chicken, but be careful not to burn the herbs. This should take 5 or 6 minutes.
3. Add the pancetta to the pot and fry for about 3 minutes until the fat starts to render out and the lardons crisp up. Add the eschalots and the garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, then add the celery and carrot, season with a little salt and pepper and cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are caramelised.
4. Add the porcini and the Swiss browns, stir and sweat for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, porcini liquid and the wine, and simmer for about 6 minutes. Add the stock and cook very gently for 35 minutes or until the meat is tender.
5. Remove the cooked chicken and place in a serving dish. Reduce the braising liquid to your liking, correct the seasoning and pour over the chicken.