The addiction continues – my usage of The Square cookbook is reaching the kind of levels I should really seek medical help for, but the food is just so damn tasty! With Christmas now upon us the supermarket shelves are filled with luxury items, in particular speciality cheeses.
Vacherin Mont d’or has been on my hit list for a while and features heavily across my French-based books. As luck would have it this Jura squidgy pot of cheese was on the shelf at Aldi priced at £6.99. Don’t mind if I do.
The recipe that I had in mind was Phil Howard’s Stuffed and Glazed Chicken Wings with Vacherin Mont d’or and a Fondue of Leeks and Chanterelles. Sounds fancy doesn’t it? Well the bad news is this dish takes a fair amount of work – and a fair amount of your day. Major components of this dish include pasta work, braising and sauce making plus a dreaded chicken mousse.
I began by starting off the wings. You actually only need the flat part of the wing, not the mini-drumstick piece. To achieve this just move the joint back and forth to give an idea of where to slice. Once I had smashed through 2-3 it wasn’t too tricky to do the rest in a quick amount of time. I reserved the drums for another dish or perhaps a stock – i’m yet to decide.
The wings are then fried in a little oil and butter until golden on the skin side. Draining the wings on kitchen paper prevents them becoming greasy while preparing the braising liquid. I added a knob of butter to the pan used to fry the wings and sweated down leeks, thyme, shallots and button mushrooms until soft. Adding in homemade chicken stock from the freezer provided ideal braising liquid.
That aroma of thyme, vegetables, butter and chicken stock has to be one of my favourite. It makes its way throughout the house and lets anyone entering know that something good is going on the kitchen. The wings braise in the liquid for around 35 minutes or until you can just pull the bone out without damaging the wing – this proved tricky.
I toyed with the idea of letting the wings cool but after having success at removing the bone in one go encouraged me to do otherwise. The majority of the wings were fine with the bone sliding out almost effortlessly, some however were more stubborn and ended up a little more tatty. With all the wings virtually intact, I added them back to the liquid and allowed it to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile I made a start on the macaroni – a real pain in the ass. Making the pasta dough was straightforward but after two hours of chilling, trying to roll a perfect tube just wasn’t happening. I ended up making a haphazard effort at tubetti as opposed to macaroni, it wasn’t perfect – far from it. It’s what I went with though as the pasta rested on a tray lined with cornmeal to firm up.
The dreaded chicken mousse came next. I say dreaded because it’s a real pain to make a chicken mousse. Raw chicken breast and an egg get blitzed in a blender and then passed through a sieve – which is a real ball ache. Working the puree through the sieve is time consuming and labour intensive but once through it’s a great deal easier to complete the mousse. I added double cream a little at a time beating with a spatula before adding chopped tarragon – this forms the stuffing for the wings.
The mousse then is piped into the cavities of the wings where the bone was. It’s easy to forget that there’s a hole all the way through the wing as the mousse spurted out on my first go, oops. Eventually the wings filled up and I placed them back into the fridge just to reset the mousse.
I then set up a steamer for the next step – steaming the wings. Grab your cling film because if you are doing the recommended 32 wings then you need a lot! Phil recommends a 20cm piece of wrap per wing which is tricky on the first one but like clockwork after doing a few. Make sure you sit the cling film landscape as you need to tie a knot either side. The wings end up looking like packages a drug smuggler might carry…
Steaming for 4 minutes allows the mousse to cook through and the wings are then plunged into iced water to halt the cooking
process. Everything now was virtually prepared well in advance of serving – highly recommended to make your life a lot easier.
I couldn’t get hold of fresh chanterelles so made a late switch by bringing in trompettes de la mort – black trumpets of death if you would like the translation. These are fried with leeks and a little butter loosened slightly with some of the chicken braising liquor. It’s about now that you can really sense the dish coming together as the chicken liquor reduced down to a rich glaze with a knob of butter adding shine to the stuffed wings.
All that’s left to do is to boil the pasta and toss it through the leek and chanterelle (or trompet) fondue. Everything smelled superb and really made me want to dive in, only one step remained – to knight the dish with stinky French cheese and stick it under the grill, yum!
You won’t be surprised to hear that this was another winner from Phil’s bible of beauty. The wings were superb in flavour yet the stuffing seemed a bit anonymous, the glaze though is massive on flavour possibly drowning it out. The macaroni/tubetti were alright but it is a tricky pasta shape to make. I would recommend just buying rigatoni or other tube shaped pasta. The cheese was very good, very similar to Reblochon that you would find in tartiflette, a brilliant substitute if you can’t find Mont d’or.
You can find The Square ‘Savoury’ available to buy at Waterstones