Recipe of the Week: Chicken with Dalwhinnie, wild mushrooms and thyme

  14 Feb '23   |  Posted by: Birlinn

Chicken with Dalwhinnie, wild mushrooms and thyme – from A Taste of the Highlands by Ghillie Basan

The Cairngorms region of the Highlands is rich in plants, foliage and fungi for foraging but it is important to respect the natural environment and only gather what you need. This recipe involves freshly picked wild mushrooms but you can also use cultivated ones combined with shop-bought dried ceps (porcini) prepared as below. To balance the flavour of the wild mushrooms I have chosen the light smoke, wood and hint of heather honey on the palate of the creamy Dalwhinnie 15. The distillery is located between the Cairngorms and the Monadhliath moun­tain ranges and shares the recognition of being the joint highest distillery in Scot­land with Braeval, which is also in the Cairngorms area.

Serves 4
30g dried ceps (porcini)
450g fresh ceps (porcini) and chanterelles, or other wild mushrooms
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
4 chicken breasts, cut in 3 long strips lengthways
2-3 tbsp peasemeal, chickpea or plain flour
8 dried juniper berries, crushed 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
several sprigs wild thyme (keep some wild thyme leaves for garnishing)
100ml Dalwhinnie 15
200ml chicken stock
200ml double cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the dried ceps into a bowl and pour in enough boiling water to just cover them. Leave to soak for 30 minutes.

Brush off any soil or moss from the wild mushrooms, keep the small ones whole and halve or quarter the large ones.

Heat the rapeseed oil in a heavy-based pan. Lightly coat the chicken strips in the peasemeal and sear in the oil, until golden brown on all sides. Lift the chicken out of the pan and set aside.

Add the juniper berries, garlic and onion to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, until they begin to colour. Toss in the fresh wild mushrooms for 2 minutes. Lift the reconstituted dried mushrooms out of the water – keep the soaking water – roughly chop them and toss them in the pan with most of the thyme. Splash in the whisky and bubble it up around the mushrooms, then add the mushroom-soaking water and chicken stock.

Slip the chicken back into the pan, gently tossing it with the mushrooms, and pour in the cream. Cook gently for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is tender. Season to taste, sprinkle the reserved thyme leaves over the top and serve with buttery mashed potato or colcannon with crowdie.

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