5-6 ripe pears
approx 3 tbsp butter, preferably unsalted
6 morels or other wild mushrooms, if dried, soaked in cold water. Each one sliced into three pieces
1 tbsp cognac
1 tbsp cream or creme fraiche
The night before your dinner party skin and joint the chickens, leaving the breasts whole and dividing the legs into drumstick and thigh. Put the carcase in a large pan with a carrot, an onion, a bay leaf, a bouquet garni, a tablespoon of cognac and two litres of water. Season and boil to make stock or soup (with a small handful of rice or barley added). Next day skim off any fat and drain through a sieve. Lazy cooks may use stock or bouillon cubes!
Peel, core and chop the pears. Put the morels in a pan, add a tablespoon of cognac and cook until the cognac is absorbed. Remove and reserve. Add the pears and a small knob of butter to the pan and cook until soft. Blend with a stick blender or in a processor and pass through a sieve or chinois back into the pan. Keep on a low heat, adding chicken stock to thin the sauce.
I owe this method of cooking chicken to Albert Roux. In a frying pan large enough to accomodate all the chicken pieces on the bottom 2 tablespoons of butter and fry the chicken for two minutes, then turn the pieces and fry for a further two minutes. Season lightly then cover the pan and cook over a very low heat, removing the breasts after 10 minutes and the legs after 20. Reserve, keeping warm. When ready to serve, slice the breasts thinly and give each guest some leg and breast meat – saving some for ‘seconds’. Stir a tablespoon of cream or creme fraiche into the sauce. Plate up the chicken, surround with the sauce, studded with the mushrooms and serve with boiled new potatoes, champ or rosti and a green vegetable for colour and texture. Here I’ve used green ‘stick’ beans, microwaved in a bowl of water until ‘al dente’ then drained and combined in a hot pan with long thin slivers of ginger before glazing with a little of the chicken stock.