It’s a good time for wild mushrooms. The Mushroom Table at the Marylebone Farmers Market has a good selection right now. Beefsteak is good, but personally I find Chicken of the Woods to be woody and unpleasant. Hen of the Woods – on the left of that picture – is, however, one of the best. I bought some of that, with some parasols.
These were used in a simple dish of chicken made spectacular with a big glug of amontillado sherry – you could also try this with marsala or madeira, or with a dry sherry like fino or amontillado.
For four people you need two chicken thighs each, about 150-200g of mushrooms, two large shallots, about 200ml of amontillado (or alternative) and a little parsley.
The mushrooms were cleaned and roughly torn. The shallots were sautéed and then the mushrooms added to the pan. Pop the lid on for the first minute or two, then add about a quarter of the sherry and put the lid on again for another couple of minutes. Then remove the pan and cook for a few minutes more. Spoon everything out of the pan onto a plate, including all the good cooking liquor. Add a little oil to the pan and fry the chicken over a medium heat until it is brown. If the chicken has rendered more than a tablespoon or so of fat, spoon out any excess before proceeding. Add in the mushrooms, shallot and its juices, and then the rest of the sherry. Cover and cook over a low heat for 15-20 minutes (or until the chicken is cooked through). You can do all of this, and leave it to rest – the flavours will develop beautifully.
When you’re ready, warm it up thoroughly, add a little parsley and serve, with some good bread on the side to mop up the juices.