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Chicken, mushrooms, wine ...?

classic, modern or made up?

This was going to be a 'kill three subjects with one post' ramble, but I have now decided to dwindle the three to two - a pairing and a 'what's for dinner' search.

Why? Well to begin with dinner. I have mushrooms and I have some white wine, which I really shouldn't drink - it being a weekday, and theoretically we only drink at the weekend. But it's a very nice bottle of Riesling from the Clare Valley. There is also a half bottle of a very nice Shiraz, so I should really use some of it for cooking. Anyway these were my starting points and so I took a breast of chicken out of the freezer, and thought that I would make this the topic of the day. One breast suffices the two of us these days as they are so big. What to do with mushrooms, chicken and wine?

The painting by the way is from Rome in the 17th century and is called The chicken and mushroom seller. So maybe I should go Italian. Mind you my mushrooms are only mass produced button mushrooms - nothing exotically picked in the wild.

Mind you another stimulus was the sight of mushrooms - so white - growing along my ambles around Eltham. Well it is Autumn. I'm not game to pick them as I really don't know enough about mushrooms. I did once read though that there are mushrooms that look just like button mushrooms, but if you scratch the skin they ooze yellow. So I did, and they did turn a tiny bit yellow so I have left them to look pretty - until they don't.

They do looks so magical somehow don't they though? I wish I knew more about our mushrooms, because my one mushroom hunting experience in the forests of Sologne near the Loire river in France were such fun. Europeans seem to know what to pick just by instinct. And besides if you're not sure in France you can go ask a pharmacist.

But I digress. The third stimulus was going to be a First recipe from Jane Grigson's The Mushroom Feast. But I have since decided that I would be doing her - and the first recipe a bit of a disservice to include it here. So another day for that.

Left to my own devices I would probably cook something like this Chicken in white wine sauce with mushrooms. I'm sure you've all made something like this. I mean it's an obvious mix isn't it? Chicken, onions, cream, wine - probably garlic and suitable herbs as well - not to mention onions. And indeed I am still thinking about this option. This particular recipe is from a blog called Kitchen Sanctuary, but there are thousands of variations, not least of which is Nigel Slater's Chicken with marsala and crème fraiche, which I talked about a while back and which is truly wonderful. And I did think about making that, but with Riesling instead of Marsala which he said you could do, but honestly it was the Marsala that made that dish.

Here it is again as a reminder, together with his Coq au Riesling, which is a variation on Coq au vin. And since Coq au vin is generally made with red wine I could indeed go for that. Nigel has a version of that too - and a rather simpler one than the classic, as it is more of a sauté than a stew and doesn't involve tiny button onions. I made that recently as well so I don't think I'll do that. As you can see, they don't really look all that different, and indeed they aren't really.

The final classic on the chicken and mushroom theme is Chicken chasseur - and here it's definitely the red wine we go for as it's a rather more robust dish. Chicken cacciatore in Italian. And here are three examples - from my Bay Books The Food of France ( a rather unexpectedly wonderful book, but no recipes online); Jamie Oliver's Mushroom and chicken cacciatore and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Chicken and mushroom casserole with cider - a variation obviously because of the cider, but basically the same thing.

No there is one more classic but a lesser known one - Poulet Vallée d'Auge - which involves, apples, Calvados and cider. I do have Calvados but I have no cider, so I think that one is out for the day. Although I could be tempted. It's very autumnal isn't it - apples and mushrooms? And bit different.

I tried to find way out versions of these three - Ottolenghi, Heston and the like and also perhaps a curry from my special curry books. But nothing.

The most far out thing I found - and it's not that far out is Skillet chicken with mushrooms and caramelised onions by Yasmin Fahr in The New York Times. And I may well try this. As you can see it's not that extreme but it doesn't have wine and it doesn't have cream. I confess I do like the cream.

So what have I learnt from all of the above? Well basically, as you all know, you can just cook your mushrooms with onions, bacon, other veg. ... Add your liquid and cook. Probably add some herbs at some point. Maybe some mustard. So I can either take one of those recipes or make something up.

Of course there are lots of other things you can do - pies, risotto, cannelloni, ravioli. And here are a few of those: Chicken, mushroom and avocado fettuccine from Taste - well we're obviously not going to have that, because of the avocado - a David no no. Stroganoff - this is Jamie's Chicken and mushroom stroganoff but I could adapt my favourite Delia recipe for Pork stroganoff with three mustards, or else there is her Chicken breasts with wild mushroom and bacon stuffing and Marsala sauce - well it's got everything but I can't be bothered with the fiddle today. Then I got really excited about these Creamy mushroom, brie and pancetta croissants from delicious. But then I realised - no chicken! And I think if I put chicken in as well it would all be too much.

So what would you do? I'm still really not sure. I confess I started out wanting to do something new and different, but now I'm working my way back to either a stroganoff or the tried and true kind of sauté with mushrooms, bacon and cream , but then again, maybe pasta. Decisions, decisions. Too late in the day for them really.


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