Chicken Breasts Nell Gwynn With Orange And Mushroom Sauce
This recipe takes me back - to my first sojourn in Edinburgh,
living with ardent vegetarian Sara, the ever solid Dave, and my mad, mad girlfriend Karen McLoony.
Are you out there somewhere Karen?
As I recall these breasts demanded a great deal of fiddling with Jane in the kitchen.
Time well spent in anyone's books.
Dave - this is for you...
4 chicken breasts, skinned and boned, leaving the wing bone
8 rashers green (plain) streaky bacon, rindless
2 Tbsps olive oil
2oz/50g butter, softened
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 small clove garlic, crushed
¼ tsp ground mace
salt & milled pepper
2 knife-segmented oranges, yielding 12-16 segments
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp tomato purée
1 level tsp plain white flour
½ pint/275ml strong chicken stock
¼ pint/150ml dry white wine
4 oz/110g mushrooms, peeled and very finely chopped
2 oz/50g butter
of 1 orange, blanched in boiling water
salt & milled white pepper
4 oz/110g extra unsalted butter, softened (optional)
Make a savoury paste with the butter, mace, orange zest, garlic, salt and pepper.
Remove the fillet from the underside of each breast.
With a wetted rolling pin, very gently flatten the breasts and the 'fillets' without breaking up the flesh (the water prevents 'dragging').
Spread each all over with a portion of the savoury past.
Put 4 or 5 segments of orange down the centre of each breast.
Cover with the 'fillet', and form into a roll.
Wrap round the bacon rashers, overlapping slightly, and spiralling down to the tip.
Refrigerate to firm them up for an hour or more.
(This job can be done the day before, in which case cover with plastic film.)
Heat the oven to gas mark 9, 475°F, 240°C.
Melt the 2 oz (50g) of butter in a heavy-bottomed cast-iron pot large enough to contain the 4 breasts in one layer.
Brown them quickly on all sides, using a palette knife and cook's fork to help you.
Put unlidded into the oven and roast for 20 minutes only,
lowering the temperature after 10 minutes to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C).
Remove, drain, serve whole or sliced diagonally into 4 or 5 slices for each plate, with the Orange and Mushroom sauce.
In a pan, heat the oil until slightly smoking.
Fry the shallots until soft but not brown.
Stir in the modicum of flour and the tomato purée, fry for ½ minute or so, stirring to prevent burning.
Pour in the stock and wine, and simmer until reduced to ½ pint (275ml).
In a second pan heat the butter until it is giving off an 'almondy' aroma, and foaming.
Stir in the mushrooms and fry for a minute over a low heat.
Strain this over the first mixture, season lightly, and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
Make the chiffonade of orange zest by cutting it meticulously into inch-long (2.5cm) hair-fine threads and blanching for 1 minute.
Add to the sauce and keep it hot in a double boiler,
or by putting the sauce in a basin over simmering water,
and covering the surface of the sauce with a circle of buttered paper to prevent a skin forming.
To enrich the sauce even further, bring it to the boil, remove the pan from the heat,
and before adding the chiffonade, very briskly whisk in the softened butter knob by knob.
The sauce will 'mount', or increase, in volume.
If this is done, the sauce must not be returned to the heat but should be served immediately after adding the chiffonade.