Free-range Chicken with Morels and Fava Beans

Chicken with Morel’s and Fava beans © Kevin Ashton 2007

If you’re going to splurge and buy a free-range chicken as a treat you might as well go the whole hog and make a special sauce to go with it. Normally I only use ingredients available in most supermarkets, but I have some dried morel mushrooms that have been sitting in my cupboard for a while and I’ve been just aching to use them. For those of you unfamiliar with morels the caps are dark brown and honeycombed. Fresh or dried they often contain grit and insects, which can only be removed by washing them. The flavour is strong and moreish, very distinctive and reminds me of tarragon, which is why tarragon is often paired with morels.


1.8kilo (4lb) free-range chicken*

2 medium carrots roughly chopped

1onion roughly chopped

125ml (1/4 pint) white wine

250ml (1/2 pint) chicken stock

50g (2oz) dried morels

100g fava beans (broad beans)

150ml double cream

1 tbsp olive oil

4 portions garlic mash

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C (gas mark 4).
  2. Make a “bed” with the chopped vegetables into your roasting tray and then sit your chicken on top.
  3. Rub the oil into the chicken and season with salt and pepper before putting into the oven.
  4. Soak the morel mushrooms in cold water for at least 20 minutes, then remove the mushrooms and reserve the water.
  5. Wash the morels to make sure they are grit free then drain on paper towel.
  6. Strain the reserved water into the cream through a fine tea strainer to remove any grit.
  7. Heat the cream mixture in a non-stick pan, adding the chicken stock and allow to simmer on a low heat, adding the morels.
  8. Blanch the broad beans in boiling water then chill in ice water, then peel the beans and reserve.
  9. Baste the chicken once every 10-15 minutes to improve the flavour and texture.
  10. The chicken should be cooked in about 1 hour 30minutes, check by inserting a fork into the leg, if the juices run clear then it is done.
  11. Rest the chicken on a large plate and cover loosely with foil.
  12. Add the white wine to the roasting pan and heat, scrapping the sediment from the bottom of the pan.
  13. Once most of the sediment is incorporated into the wine turn off the heat and strain this liquor into the cream sauce.
  14. Reduce the sauce on a medium heat until you have a good sauce consistency adding a little more salt and pepper if necessary, add the Fava beans and turn down the heat.
  15. Portion the chicken up (legs into thighs and drumsticks) remove the breasts from the carcass then cut each breast into two.

To Serve
Place a mound of garlic mash on each warm dinner plate and top with a piece of leg and a piece of breast. Spoon the sauce around the plate and serve.

Chef’s Tips
Of course you can use an ordinary chicken if your budget tight
You can also substitute dried porcini mushrooms (which are sold in most supermarkets) if you can’t get morels, though you may need to use less porcini because they are quite strong. The best way to get garlic into mashed potatoes is to add a few unpeeled cloves to the cold water when the potatoes are raw. When the potatoes are soft, cooked and drained check to see if the garlic flavour is strong enough. If not then peeled the now cooked garlic and mash with the potatoes.

Please note
I only decorated this dish with a sprig of rosemary from my garden because the vivid colour of the herb’s flowers contrasted well with the other colours on the plate.

Morels illustration ©Kevin Ashton 2015

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