Friday, June 13, 2008

Coq Au Vin

FORGOT to mention on my last entry about how the Prince of Darkness managed to live up to his name at the weekend. On Sunday morning he awoke covered head-to-toe in blood. It was all pretty worrying for the dark lord. Had he enticed a young virgin back to his abode, taking a bite into her neck and then let her wander around Cardiff with a complexion resembling porcelain? He couldn't piece it together.
Then he looked at his hand and there lay the answer. His hand was covered in blood and he knew he had somehow got wounded during the night at Six Feet Under. Washing the blood away, he discovered a tiny pinprick and the truth came flooding back. He had, in fact, accidentally put his hand down on a tiny fleck of broken glass. For most of us it wouldn't be a problem but, you know what they say, vodka is thinner than blood (well, they don't but it appears it must be).

The wonderful Withers had been so troubled at the weekend that it was only fair the Prince and I accompanied him to see one of his favourite bands at the Buffalo Bar on Monday, although we both viewed the idea with trepidation.
Did I say band? We are talking about one rather strange geezer from Basildon, who waves around a hand puppet and sings disgusting songs - all in a vain attempt at humour. Still, the clue was in the band's title: K**t and the gang. We actually met up with K**t himself on the door as he took our £5 entry fee and invited us to join the other 12 saddos in the upstairs bar. Withers almost wet himself with excitement.
Once the guy started playing - clever ventriloquist act but devoid of musical talent - Withers didn't need to follow his instruction to "have a little w*nk", he had already made a rather sticky mess in his pants. The Prince and I, meanwhile, looked at each other in a completely baffled manner. What was this nonsense?
Eventually it was over. A bit of a gimmick act, quite fun really, but doing nothing that Splodginess Abounds hadn't done in the late 70s and early 80s.
The following day, though, I woke to find evidence of the night before on my wrist. There in indelible red ink was the legend "K**t". I failed to wash it off in the shower and I'm sure I got some dodgy looks in conference on Tuesday morning.

At the weekend Wren and I continued to make wedding plans, going to visit the lovely Avon Gorge Hotel in Bristol. I also had time to rustle up a rather nice little Coq Au Vin, adapted from a recipe in Nigel Slater's Real Food book.
25g butter
tbsp olive oil
100g pancetta
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 large free-range chicken breasts
five or six brown mushrooms, halved or quartered
1/2 pint of medium dry white wine
300ml creme fraiche
3tbsp chopped parsley
Melt butter in heavy-based casserole and pour in oil. Put in pancetta and colour it, then add onion and garlic.
Leave to cook on moderate heat until onions soften but don't colour.
Scoop pancetta and onions out with draining spoon, leaving the juices in the pan, then add the chicken. Brown lightly on all sides.
Add mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, then return pancetta and onions to the pan. Turn up the heat, pour in the wine, bring it to the boil and simmer. Let it gently bubble for 25 minutes, turning chicken from time to time.
Then lift chicken out of pan and pour in the cream. Season with salt and black pepper and stir in parsley. Continue cooking at an enthusiastic bubble, until cream starts to thicken slightly. Return chicken to pan. When it is thoroughly hot and the sauce in thick, serve.

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