- 250 gm caster sugar
- 90 ml red wine vinegar
- 20 tarragon leaves (about 1 tbsp)
- Lemon juice, to taste
- Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- Curly parsley, to garnish
- 200 gm fine salt
- 1 chicken (1.5kg)
- 2 kg chicken wings
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
- 50 ml olive oil
- 500 gm chicken feet (see note)
- 5 thyme sprigs
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 20 black peppercorns
- 100 ml pouring cream
- 50 gm butter, diced
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 100 ml dry white wine
- 100 gm hen-of-the-woods mushrooms (see note)
- 10 button mushrooms (about 120gm)
- Olive oil, to cover (about 1 litre)
- 5 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
- 5 thyme sprigs
- 1For brined chicken, bring 2 litres water to a simmer in a saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve salt. Add 2 litres cold water, set aside to cool, then transfer to a container large enough to hold chicken snugly, and refrigerate until chilled (2 hours). Add chicken, ensuring it’s completely submerged, and refrigerate overnight to brine. Drain chicken (discard brine), pat dry inside and out and refrigerate uncovered overnight to dry.
- 2Meanwhile, for chicken sauce, preheat oven to 220C. Roast wings in a roasting pan until browned (50 minutes to 1 hour). Fry onion and celery in oil in a large stockpot over high heat until golden brown (10-12 minutes). Add wings and 6 litres water (or enough to cover bones), bring to a simmer and skim froth from surface. Add chicken feet, thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns and simmer over low heat until stock is well flavoured (3½-4 hours). Skim fat from surface, and strain stock through a fine sieve lined with muslin into a clean saucepan (discard bones and herbs). Reduce stock over high heat to 500ml (45 minutes to 1 hour). Add cream and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, stir butter and flour in a saucepan over medium-high heat until golden (3-4 minutes). Gradually add wine and chicken stock, whisking after each addition until incorporated, then bring to the boil and whisk for a minute. Season to taste and keep warm.
- 3Meanwhile, for confit mushrooms, place mushrooms in a saucepan, cover with oil, add garlic and thyme and cook over low heat until tender (30-35 minutes).
- 4Steam dried chicken in a large steamer basket over a large saucepan of simmering water until breast feels firm and internal temperature reaches 64C (40-45 minutes). Stand at room temperature to cool (30 minutes).
- 5Stir sugar in a small saucepan with 50ml water over medium-high heat to dissolve, then boil without stirring until dark caramel, swirling pan occasionally (10-12 minutes). Deglaze pan with red wine vinegar and set aside to cool, then brush glaze over chicken and stand to dry briefly (10 minutes).
- 6Place a frying pan over high heat. Drain oil from mushrooms, place in hot pan and fry until golden and starting to crisp (1-2 minutes). Season to taste and keep warm.
- 7Heat 10cm-12cm vegetable oil in a large deep stockpot to 190C (hot oil will bubble up, so don’t fill to more than a third). Holding the bird securely, carefully lower it into the pot (be careful, hot oil will spit) and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown (8-10 minutes). Remove chicken with care (hot oil will drain from the cavity), transfer to a board, and cut into 8-10 pieces, halving legs, and thickly slicing breasts and arrange on a platter. Add lemon juice and tarragon to sauce. Spoon sauce over chicken, garnish with parsley and mushrooms and serve.
Chicken feet are available from Asian butchers; they may need to be ordered ahead. Hen-of-the-woods mushrooms are available from farmers’ markets and specialists suppliers. If they’re unavailable, substitute oyster or chestnut mushrooms.
Drink Suggestion: 2011 Jean Bourdy “Côtes du Jura” Rouge Drink suggestion by Andy Tyson