There was a half bottle of Sauvignon lurking in the fridge along with some nice plump chicken thighs and some good quality fresh stock. Why not try a variant of Coq au Vin? Nothing like a fancy French title to give a recipe some oomph when really it’s just chicken in a white wine sauce. I stripped off the skin from the chicken as I can’t bear its texture, took out the bone to make some stock then I put the halved thighs to marinate in the wine and left it all for several hours. I still have most of a packet of dried tarragon from Flying Tiger (please open again soon…!) and the dried version doesn’t lose its impact as most dried herbs do. I used banana shallots as it’s so fiddly dealing with the small round ones. This is a very easy dish. If you don’t have tarragon you could use dried thyme – about half a teaspoon would be enough. Once you have it in the oven you can relax and get on with something else.

Serve with plain basmati rice, steamed new potatoes or just a beautiful loaf of hot garlic bread.

Serves 2

4 large chicken thigh fillets

350ml dry white wine

2 rashers smoked bacon

4 banana shallots

2 tablespoons plain flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Oil for frying

6 chestnut mushrooms

300 ml good quality stock, freshly made or from bouillon with boiling water

Heaped teaspoon dried tarragon

Handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Cut the chicken fillets in half and put them in a bowl with the wine to marinate for several hours in the fridge.

Pre heat the oven to 160 degrees c.

Dice the bacon and let it start to crisp over a moderate heat in a frying pan. Divide the peeled shallots each into 4 long segments and add them to the bacon, lifting and stirring until they start colouring. Lift the bacon and shallots out of the pan and set aside in an ovenproof dish. Put the flour on a deep plate and season it with the salt and pepper. Lift the chicken pieces out of the wine and dredge them in the flour. Add a little oil to the pan, keeping the heat moderate and fry the chicken pieces in batches until they are well browned. Add them to the bacon and onion in the ovenproof dish. Halve the chestnut mushrooms and add them to the bacon and onion mixture (no need to fry them first). Add the wine and stock to the frying pan, bring it to the boil then lower the heat and let the liquid thicken and reduce a little, about 3 minutes. Add the tarragon and let it all simmer for 30 seconds before adding the hot wine and stock to the ovenproof dish. Drape some foil over the top then add a tightly fitting lid. Put it in the oven and let it cook gently for 50 minutes. Inspect it at this point. Take the lid and foil off, give it all a stir; check the seasoning, adjusting if necessary. Raise the oven temperature to 180 degrees c and return the chicken to the oven for another 20 minutes. It should look nicely browned on top with a thick sauce. Scatter half the parsley into the dish, saving the rest to sprinkle over the top as you bring it to the table.