Learn to take apart a chicken and then pan-fry and braise in cider. Perfect your knife skills with a variety of root vegetables and cabbage all served with a creamy mash.
Joint the chicken, keeping all the bones and trimmings. Peel and finely slice the shallots. Leave the garlic cloves in their skins - just press them firmly so they just split. Finely chop the parsley.
Heat the oven to 160c
Season the thighs, drumsticks and wings all over with oil, salt and pepper. Get your largest frying pan nice and hot, then add the seasoned chicken pieces skin side down, with as many pieces of carcass as will comfortably fit (do this in two batches if you need to, rather than squash them in).
Turn and shuffle the pieces to get all the skin a lovely deep golden brown. When they are brown, add the shallots to the pan, with a little more oil if it looks dry. Scrape and stir often so the shallots brown quickly without burning. Throw in the garlic cloves. Rub the sprigs of thyme in your hands to release the flavour, then drop them in the pan. Add the butter, still stirring all the time. When the butter stops bubbling, add the cider and scrape all over the base of the pan to deglaze it. As soon as the cider starts to boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid or tin foil, place in the oven and braise for about an hour, until you can easily pull the meat from the bone. Remove the pieces of carcass. Using a sieve pass all of the liquid into a clean pan and reduce by half skimming the fat of as you go. Whisk in a spoonful of butter and chopped parsley.
Turn on the grill to maximum.
Meanwhile (ideally, about 20 minutes before the legs are ready), season the breasts with oil, salt and pepper and pan-fry in the same manner as before, but on a medium heat. Concentrate on getting the skin evenly brown, then turn over and place the pan in the same oven as the braise and cook until almost firm to the touch. Remove and allow to rest while you place the braising pan under the grill to brown the top.
Peel and cut the potatoes into large chunks. Add to a pan with well salted water, bring to the boil and simmer until just tender, then drain and allow to steam dry for a minute or two. Heat the milk and cream. Dice the butter. Mash, whisk or rice the potatoes, adding the milk and cream as you go to make a super-smooth, soft mash - now whip in the cold butter. Season with salt, then beat with a silicon or wooden spoon for as long as you can - this will really lighten your mash. Keep warm.
Peel the carrot and swede. Cut the carrot into cm cubes, or as close to that size as you can. The swede can be be cut the same way or maybe use a a small sized melon baller.
Remove any withered or damaged leaves from the cabbage. Remove the central stalk. Cut into batons around 1 cm wide. Blanch the swede and carrot for 2 minutes in boiling salted water. After 1 minute add the cabbage to the pan and blanch for a further minute. Drain all of the vegetable together in a a colander.
Finely dice the garlic. Melt the butter in a pan and fry the garlic for a few seconds. Add the other vegetables and cider vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
Slice the chicken breasts and serve everyone a piece of leg, a few slices of breast meat, a big pile of mash, glazed vegetables and plenty of jus.
Follow this step by step guide to remove the wings, legs and breasts from a chicken. Start by cutting around one wing and then use the heel of your knife to break through the bone. Repeat to remove the second wing. Separate the legs from the body and cut around the thigh joint. Break the joint by hand and then cut through with your knife. Separate the drumstick from the thigh by cutting through the joint. To remove the breasts, begin by cutting either side of the wishbone and pulling it out by hand. Cut along the central bone in the centre of the chicken and then cut away the breasts, leaving as little flesh as possible on the carcass. Cut through the wing joint and repeat on the other side. The chicken is now jointed and ready to cook. The carcass can be used to make a stock.
«If you have the time, reduce the oven temperature to 120c and braise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours - it will be even better.»