You can almost smell the autumn bonfires in this quick-to-cook casserole. Try it with buttery mashed potato or spoon it over a pillowy mound of soft polenta.
Some wild mushrooms are lovely in this dish if you can get them. I used a mixture of portobello, chestnut and oyster mushrooms, with a dry Marsala in the sauce. That’s still quite sweet: if you’d like a touch more acidity use dry white wine or cider.
On the side, we had runner beans from the garden because, like courgettes, the dratted things just don’t know when they’ve outstayed their welcome. Otherwise, some wilted kale or other fresh greens would be good.
Chicken with Chestnuts and Mushrooms
4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skinned
2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
200g mushrooms, quartered if large
1 tbsp butter
180g vac-packed cooked chestnuts, halved
Sprig of thyme, leaves picked from stem
Heaped tbsp plain flour
Large glass of dry Marsala or Madeira (or white wine)
250ml chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley, to garnish.
Heat the oil in a deep pan or casserole and fry the chicken on a high heat until golden all over. Remove and set aside.
Lower the heat to medium and in the same pan, cook the onions and celery until soft and golden, adding the garlic for the last few minutes. In another pan, melt the butter and quickly fry the mushrooms until any water they release has evaporated. Add half to the onions and celery and set the rest aside.
Sprinkle the flour over the onion mixture, stir it in and cook it off for a couple of minutes. Pour in the Marsala or Madeira and stir until the mixture thickens. Add the stock, chestnuts and herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to a boil, stirring, then put the chicken back in the pan and cook at a low simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. Halfway through, add the remaining mushrooms. At the end of the cooking time, check the seasoning and serve, sprinkled with a little chopped parsley.