Chicken Breast with Aligot and Walnut Pesto
recipe comes from Chef Jim Fisher who now runs
cooking holidays in the Dordogne.
you would like to know more about Jim and how he gained
his love of cooking why not have a look at his biography
find out more about the cooking holidays in France at
Jim's cooking school in the Dordogne you will need to
visit his web site <click
said about this recipe:
I adore mashed potato. In fact, I could eat a whole
saucepan of the stuff, then have it again for dessert.
But hell, I'm a carbs man, so I would like mash, right?
However, there is one dish that beats mash hands-down,
and that's, well, cheesey mash!
was on holiday last year with Lucy and Jenny (no mean
mash fanatic, herself) in the pretty southern town of
Millau (pronounced "meeoe") when we stumbled
upon one of that region's numerous and very popular
summer night-markets. This wasn't just any night-market,
but one set up in honour of the greatest contribution
to the high carb diet in living memory - Aligot (Aligot
is to mash, what chargrilled seabass is to fish-fingers,
and is a gooey stringy unction of mashed potato, butter,
garlic, creme fraiche and a local cheddar-like cheese).
market stalls themselves encircled the town square,
which was itself packed with acres of trestle tables
and bench seats. Seated cheek by jowel are hundreds
of locals - no tourist area this - noisily chattering
and munching away at piles of aligot and wild boar sausage.
took a while to suss out the system whereby a brand
new empty plate turned into a full one, but once mastered,
it was easy; we each got into line at one of the stalls
and gathered great tubs of aligot, sausage, chargrilled
saddle of rabbit, barbecued chicken, crusty bread, gravy
and mustard. Then, it was off to one of the wine stalls
where we purchased a pre-opened bottle of local red
and were given plastic cups to drink it from.
finally shouldered onto a bench we consumed one of the
finest outdoor meals I have ever eaten then went back
for more. Later, a reviving stroll netted more goodies
in the form of freshly made crepes and doughnuts, eaten
on the "fly". Finally, defeated, we retreated
to a bar and, beer in hand, watched the locals promenading
into the early hours - fantastic!
If you think that all recipes are derivative and that,
in cooking, there's nothing new under the sun, you may
well be right. But, that shouldn't stop you re-inventing
a classic sauce like pesto. Traditionally made with
pine nuts and basil, pesto is up there with the "greats".
Here, however, is an alternative using seasonal locally
grown walnuts and readily available sage.
1.5kg (3lb - about 20) medium floury potatoes, peeled
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 glass dry white wine
100g (4oz) unsalted butter
25g (1oz) plain flour
4 tbsp creme fraiche
500g (1lb) cheddar cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 handfuls shelled walnuts
3 garlic cloves, peeled
pinch of salt
a few twists of freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp roughly chopped sage leaves
150ml (5 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
100g (4oz) fresh parmesan, grated
6 breasts of the best free-range chicken, skin on
freshly grated black pepper
the potatoes in salted water until tender. Turn off
the heat, drain, then return them to the hot pan to
dry out for five minutes. Mash.
sweat the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until
translucent, then pour in the wine and turn up the
heat. Allow to reduce until there is hardly any liquid
left in the pan.
the heat and melt in the butter. Stir in the flour
and allow to "cook-out" for a minute.
the mashed potato, creme fraiche and cheese, then
stir over a medium heat until well combined. Continue
to cook until the whole lot turns into a gloopy stringy
mass which bubbles volcanically, then season with
plenty of salt and pepper. Serve.
the walnuts, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and sage
in a mortar and pound to a rough "bread crumb"
Add the oil and parmesan, then stir to thoroughly
a ridged cast iron giddle pan to a smoking heat.
the chicken breasts on both sides with a little oil,
then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Lay
the breasts, skin side down, on the griddle and grill
for about five minutes, or until well marked.
the breasts over, then turn out the heat. The chicken
will continue to cook in the residual heat of the
pan. Cook like this for another five minutes until
a skewer, inserted into the middle of each breast,
reveals a clear juice when extracted (if the juice
is still a little pink allow the breasts to sit for
a couple more minutes).
the breasts to a plate and rest for a few minutes
away from the heat. When rested, place each breast
on top of a dollop of aligot and top with a generous
spoonful of pesto.
with seasonal vegetables of your choice and the chicken
juice from the pan.