chicken with sloe gin and juniper berries

sloe berries before the first frosts
Yesterday we went sloe berry hunting. Our favourite location seems to have remained a secret from both other north Londoners and the local wildlife as the bushes looked remarkably unravaged. A good haul now nestles in the freezer until next weekend when I'll be in a home-brew frenzy, making sloe gin, damson gin and some more mead (more of this another time). 

There was a tiny smidgen left of last year's batch of sloe gin so I decided to celebrate this year's harvest with this very simple recipe. This uses dried juniper berries and since the fresh berries are used in the manufacture of gin, they seem to go very well together with the sloe gin. The sweetness of carrots is a good counter balance and mellows out the slightly medicinal bitterness of the juniper.

Serves 4 (or 2 greedy guts)
Skill level: Easy

ingredients
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
4 chicken breasts fillets, skinned
2 medium sized (English) onions, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
350g carrots (or 3 medium sized), sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
125g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (or half a tsp of dried thyme)
100ml chicken stock
100ml  red wine
100ml sloe gin
1 tsp juniper berries, crushed
salt and freshly ground black pepper

directions:

  1. Melt butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken breasts until they are lightly browned on each side. Set aside
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan and add chopped onion and celery. Gently fry for 5 minutes, before adding the garlic. Continue to fry for 2 more minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms and lightly salt. Stir and continue to cook, with the lid on for 5 minutes.
  4. Add carrots and fry for 2 more minutes. The mushrooms will have released much of their water into the pan.
  5. Add the herbs, juniper berries and the liquid. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Cool the mixture and blend to a smooth puree. If the sauce is a little thick, then add either a little more stock or wine, to thin out.
  7. Put the chicken breasts into a pan and add the blended sauce. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets.
  8. Season to taste (bearing in mind that you have already added salt to the mushrooms and that your chicken stock may be salty).
p.s:
In the interests of full disclosure, I think I should mention that this really isn't the prettiest of dishes. The combination of carrots, red wine and sloe gin does give it a rather muddy appearance but don't let that put you off. It tastes delicious, particularly with mash and lashings of colourful savoy cabbage.

3 comments:

Nate @ House of Annie said...

Well it sounds delicious. I like cooking with juniper berries / allspice.

Since you used foraged berries, you should enter this in the Grow Your Own roundup this month.

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Thank you for this, Nate. I shall definitely give it a go . . . can I enter more than once? (I mean can I enter more than one recipe, not in the "vote early, vote often" kind of way!)

@HungryBecs said...

Would you mind sharing your North London place where you get your sloes from please? I won't take them all!!