Central European Chicken with Wild Mushrooms & Garlic

Chicken with Wild Mushrooms & Garlic
Chicken with Wild Mushrooms & Garlic

While a great British roast on a Sunday is all very well and good, sometimes my family and I crave something a little different.  This roasted chicken dish with aromatic herbs proved a great alternative.  With wild mushrooms, celery, white wine and chicken stock, the wonderful sauce is then combined with that traditional Russian flavour of sour cream.

This is perfect for the ultimate feast and great served either with fresh steamed green beans alone, or with an extra side of boiled new potatoes (my preference being the crumbly the better!)

Ingredients (serves 4)

45ml olive or vegetable oil

1.5kg/3lb whole chicken (you could use chicken pieces, just make sure it’s thighs etc. on the bone)

3 celery sticks (peeled so it is not stringy)

1 garlic cloves, crushed

275g wild mushrooms (personally, I wouldn’t bother slicing, even if large but is up to personal tastes)

1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

250ml chicken stock

250ml dry white wine

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (I tend to prefer flat leaf)

120ml sour cream

Salt and ground black pepper

Flat leaf parsley to garnish

Fresh green beans to serve

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius,  375 degrees Fahrenheit, Gas Mark 5

Heat the oil in a roasting tin and brown the chicken all over

chick-2

Remove the chicken temporarily

Fry the onions for about 2 minutes in the roasting tin

Add the celery, garlic, wild mushrooms and thyme and cook for 3 minutes

chick-3

Pour in the chicken stock, wine and lemon juice into the roasting tin (or foil dish as in my case)

chick-4

Sit the chicken on the top of the stock etc.

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Sprinkle over half the parsley

Season well

Place the chicken in the oven for 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 hours or until tender

Baste occasionally to prevent drying out

Remove the chicken from the roasting tin and keep warm

Put the roasting tin on the hob and stir in the sour cream over a gentle heat until you make a thick pouring sauce

Arrange the chicken on a plate, surrounded by the cream and mushroom sauce

Garnish with parsley sprigs

Serve with grean beans and/or potatoes
Serve the chicken with the sauce and fresh green beans

Romanian Chicken Ghiveci

Romanian Chicken Ghiveci
Romanian Chicken Ghiveci

Stews are big in Romania and all over Eastern Europe.  One pot dishes, over time, provided a hearty sustenance for first, peasants in the fields and later, workers in the factories.  These dishes are always packed full of flavour from in season produce and, traditionally, home-grown herbs.  Served with a side portion of rice or dark rye bread, traditional meals are not only easy but can also be a really cheap way of feeding your 5,000 (family and/or friends).  I cooked this for my family and it proved to be every bit delicious as I had anticipated.

 

Ingredients

4 tbsp vegetable oil

1 mild onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 red peppers, seeded and sliced

1.5kg / 3 1/2 lb chicken pieces (thighs, drumsticks etc. as chicken on the bone is best for flavour)

3 potatoes, diced

1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp chopped fresh marjoram

1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

3 carrots, cut into chunks

1/2 small celeriac cut into chunks

120 ml dry white wine

2 courgettes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chopped fresh rosemary, marjoram to garnish

Rye bread and/or white rice to serve

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole

Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes until soft

Add the red peppers

ghiveci-2

Place the chicken pieces in a casserole and brown gently on all sides

ghiveci-3

After about 15 minutes, add the tomato puree, potatoes, herbs, carrots, celeriac, white wine and season to taste

ghiveci-4

Cover and cook over a gentle heat for 50 minutes

ghiveci-5

Add the sliced courgettes 5 minutes before the end of cooking

ghiveci-6

Season to taste

Garnish with herbs and serve with a portion of white rice or dark rye bread

Serve

Serve!

Purger, Zagreb

White Wine Goulash Serving Bowl
White Wine Goulash Serving Bowl

I have visited Purger twice now, and on neither occasion have I seen a non-Croat there. One waiter speaks no English and the other only understands the basics which for me, is always a good sign. I tend to believe that if the locals like a restaurant and it is not full of tourists, you are probably guaranteed a good meal. With Purger, this is definitely the case. From the outside one may be hesitant to enter but on negotiating your way through the restaurant one is finally met with a secluded courtyard, the perfect city getaway. The only problem, and it really is not a problem, is that this restaurant’s menu is not merely vast, it is excessive. It is difficult to decide which type of the seemingly endless options of veal, pork, beef, fish, chicken to choose.

Naravni Samobor
Naravni Samobor

The portions at this restaurant are comparable in size to that of the menu. The Vinksi Gulaš, a veal goulash unusually made with white wine and less paprika than the traditional Hungarian or Transylvanian goulash. Served in a large metal bowl, it is easy to think it would be impossible to finish every morsel but, as is the case with the food served at Purger, it is simply too delicious to leave a mouthful. The goulash is served with potatoes but you will want to make use of the dense, cornmeal bread to mop up the excess thin sauce.

The Naravni Samobor is a thin veal escalope doused in garlic and grilled, apparently a tradition associated with the nearby village of Samobor. The veal was beaten incredibly thinly and required very little effort to eat and the meat simply flaked apart on entering my mouth. For a garlic lover, this platter is simply heaven.

The only slight disappointment was the Svinjski Kotlet, a grilled pork cutlet which while was rich in flavour, was unfortunately a little tough. Nevertheless, the great taste made up for the minor disappointment.

Pork Cutlets
Pork Cutlets

Side dishes include potatoes, french fries, rice, croquettes, and a variety of large individual salads which add a useful, refreshing element to one’s meal.  The beetroot is fresh and will make one never want to return to that pre-prepared from the supermarket, and the tomatoes are juicy with thick flesh and a truly wonderful taste.

The wine list boasted all the usual local wines including Vinarija Dingač, Pelješac, Kvalitetno vino, Vinogorje Pelješac, 2007.  The wine was heady, smooth and velvety, a perfect accompaniment to the rich meal.

Purger

Petrinjska 33

Zagreb

Tel: 4810 713

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Bulgarian Chicken with Beans Casserole

This dish is the ultimate in one-pot cooking.  All the ingredients literally go in one pot which is put in the oven and after just 1 1/2 hours is cooked to absolute perfection.  This recipe serves 4 very hungry people!

Ingredients:

250g tin of kidney beans

8 chicken thighs and drumsticks

12 streaky bacon rashers

1 large white onion

250ml dry white wine

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp rosemary

pinch of nutmeg

150ml sour cream

1 tbsp paprika

lemon wedges, rosemary sprigs for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven at 180ºC

Arrange bacon around sides and base of ovenproof dish.

Sprinkle over onion.

Bacon & Onion

Sprinkle over kidney beans.

Bacon, onion, kidney beans

Trim chicken pieces.

Combine wine, oregano, rosemary and nutmeg.

Pour wine mix over the bacon, onion and beans.

Mix together sour cream and paprika in a bowl or plastic bag.

Sour cream & paprika

Toss the chicken in the sour cream.

Chicken in sour cream

Place coated chicken on top of onion and beans.

Ready for the oven!

Cover with foil or lid.

Place casserole dish in oven for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

For the last 15 minutes of cooking, remove the foil or lid.

Serve garnished with rosemary and a wedge of lemon.

Ready to serve!
Ready to serve!

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