Chicken cataplana with Pedro Ximenez Sherry and Creme Fraiche

Pedro Ximenez is a single-grape variety sherry, thick, dark, unctuous and sweet with slight burnt caramel undertones. If you can’t get this, use any sweet sherry. I’ve also made versions of this dish using port, madeira, marsala and other fortified wines, and with pomegranate syrup.

For this dish, I use one of my favourite cooking pots, a Portuguese cataplana – see kitchen gear
You could also use a dutch oven or any other deep, lidded casserole.

1 free range chicken, skin on, cut into 8 pieces (drumstick/thigh/wing-breast/breast x 2)
1 tbsp olive oil
8 shallots, peeled
1 aubergine, cut into 15mm approx rounds
2 carrots, chopped into 15mm rounds
2 courgettes, cut into 15mm rounds
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
sprig thyme
1 wineglass Pedro Ximenes or other sweet sherry
zest of an orange
2 tbsp creme fraiche
serves 4

Pre-heat the oven to 240C.
If using a cataplana, split into two halves, heat the oil in one half and lightly fry the vegetables and the garlic – do not allow the garlic to darken beond pale yelllow. Wash the chicken joints and pat dry on kitchen paper. Heat the other half of the cataplana, throw in about a tsp of salt, add the chicken and brown on both sides. Remove and wipe cataplana free of any fat.
Combine the two halves of the cataplana, vegetables on bottom, then the sprig of thyme, then arrange chicken joints on top skin side up. Scatter the orange zest on top and pour the glass of sherry over the chicken. Close lid and seal with spring clips.

If you don’t have a cataplana, cook the chicken and veg separately, as above, but in a fryiing pan or large wok before combining, again as above, in a tightly lidded casserole or dutch oven.

Place cataplana/casserole in oven and cook for 40 minutes. Remove and pour off juices into a wide shallow saucepan. Discard sprig of thyme. Return casserole to oven, lid off. Boil juices on top of stove to reduce, adding a twist of black pepper and stirring in the creme fraiche.

Assemble on plates, pour juice reduction over top of chicken and serve with mash, saute potatoes or boiled rice.