This classic French dish from Eunice Power with a light and tasty quinoa is the perfect weekend dinner for all the family.

"The success of this dish is based around the quality of the foods used. We use free-range chicken from Bertram Salter of Carlow Foods Ltd along with good crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Using white wine instead of red means this comforting dish is a little bit lighter yet still full of flavour. I suggest serving this with quinoa as it adds another dimension to the dish and freshens it up but couscous, rice or potatoes would also work" – Eunice Power

Yield: Serves:6

Ingredients

  • 6 part boned chicken breasts with skin on, each about the same size
  • Olive oil
  • 300g/10.5oz small onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 150g/5.2oz smoked bacon lardons
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • A glug of Cognac
  • 1 bottle Sauvignon Blanc
  • 4/5 sprigs thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 40g/1.4oz butter
  • 200g/7oz small mushrooms.

For the quinoa

  • 250g/8.8oz quinoa
  • 50g/1.7oz flat leafed parsley
  • ½ lemon, juice and rind
  • 75ml/2.6oz olive oil
  • Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish and place the chicken pieces in the oil once hot and allow to crisp up. Turn them when the underside is pale gold. It is crucial to the flavour of the dish that the chicken is golden. Once golden on all sides, lift the chicken out and into a bowl.
  2. Peel and dice the onions, carrot and celery. With the chicken out, add the onions, smoked bacon, carrots and celery to the pan and cook slowly, stirring from time to time, until the onions are softened.
  3. Add the garlic, peeled and thinly sliced. Return the chicken and to the pan and stir in the flour, letting everything cook for a few minutes before adding the Cognac, wine and herbs. Bring to the boil, then, just as it gets there, turn the heat down so that the sauce bubbles gently. Cover partially with a lid and cook for 40 minutes.  
  4. In a separate pan, melt the butter and add the mushrooms. Cook until golden, then add to the chicken with some salt and pepper. Check the chicken – it should be soft but not falling from the bone. Lift chicken out into a bowl. Turn heat up under the sauce and let it bubble until it has reduced a little, it will thicken at this stage and become quite glossy.
  5. Cook the quinoa in boiling water and drain when cooked. Zest and juice the lemon, I use a zester for this and find it terrific. Combine the parsley, lemon juice, zest and oil and pour over quinoa. Mix well, seasoning with salt and pepper
  6. To serve, spoon some quinoa into the centre of a warm plate, place a piece of chicken on top and spoon over some sauce.

TIP: Like most casseroles, this dish is always better the next day as the flavours and textures improve. Always make it a day ahead – making it ideal for a dinner party.