Finely slice the shallots. Pick and chop the thyme leaves, reserving the stalks.
In the pan you fried the chicken in, sweat the shallots on a medium heat, adding a little more oil if required. When the shallots are soft, add half the butter and thyme and stir until the onions are slightly golden. Add the marsala and scrape the base of the pan to de glaze. Boil until reduced by half, then add the chicken stock and simmer until reduced by half again. Add the cream and allow to simmer and thicken. Remove the thyme stalks, check the seasoning and add the redcurrants. Allow to just soften (this won't take long), then remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining butter to give a glossy finish.
Finely shred the cabbage and finely slice the onions. In a large casserole dish, wilt the onions for five minutes in the oil on a medium heat. Add the butter, star anise, black pepper and cabbage and turn up the heat, stirring constantly to prevent catching on the base, until the cabbage begins to soften. Add the vinegar, sugar and a splash of water, put a lid on and reduce the heat to medium low.
Check and stir regularly, adding more splashes of water if necessary to prevent it catching, until the cabbage is completely broken down, soft and sweet. Adjust the flavour with a little more sugar and vinegar if you like.
Heat the oven to 180c
Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper and a good coating of oil. Heat a large frying pan to medium hot, then add the chicken skin side down. Take time and care to colour the skin to a lovely even golden colour - you will probably need to shuffle them around every now and then for even colouring. This is a very important stage as they will take on very little colour in the oven.
Turn the breasts over and give them 30 seconds on the other side, then transfer to a roasting tin skin side up (keep the pan for the sauce) and roast until just a little springy when pressed at the thickest part. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.
«This cabbage dish is very versatile and can be made days ahead. You could use other spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Try cooking it for longer with a bit more sugar and vinegar for a great chutney.»