This is what you should absolutely cook if you have friends coming round for dinner on a work night and you don’t want to be huffing and puffing in the kitchen while they are enjoying themselves in the lounge.  You can get this prepared and cooking in an hour, so you can relax and enjoy their company.  I timed it!

The Cedar Court 3 convened last night and we had Liz’s chicken, it was very much enjoyed by all.  I’ve written about this recipe several times before and if pressed, I MIGHT say it is my absolute favourite movie star recipe.  It is easy, always turns out brilliantly, and you can get it on the table at a reasonable hour when you have got in from work around 6.30pm.

Liz’s recipe follows, but here are my top tips for this brilliant weeknight dish.

I used 4 legs and 4 thighs, there were 3 of us and we ate it all apart from one leg (din dins tonight!!).  If you are not using a whole chicken I reckon this is just about right for 4 with plenty of veg.  

I put all the chicken pieces in a big mixing bowl, dusted some flour over them then moved them around in the bowl to coat.  It worked perfectly.  I fried the pieces up in two batches in my biggest frying pan – half the recommended amount of oil was fine for me.  I used rapeseed oil and it gave a lovely golden colour to the chicken skin.

I bunged all the chicken in my big Le Creuset casserole dish (Dutch oven), and everything else just went in with it.  You don’t have to cook the onion first, just pop it all in the pot.  Lid on.  Cooking by 7.30 which is when my guests arrived armed with many beers.  I managed to do some tidying up during this time too… 

I have made this with Sauternes in the past and it is bloody delicious, but that is expensive stuff man.  This time, I used a bottle of generic “dessert wine” from Tesco which I have had knocking around the place for ages.  I bought it specifically for this Liz dish and I have decided to always have a bottle of this on hand.  

A 37.5 ml bottle is exactly the right amount for this dish.  It is absolutely meant to be.  If you don’t have dessert wine, white wine is fine.

I did steamed veggies, so no mucking around.  Some nice new potatoes, carrots, and broccoli – easy.  I wanted to gossip with Vic and Corinna rather than faff about with fancy sides.  It’s good to spoon over some of the sauce that’s lying around in the bottom of your casserole dish, full of good stuff.

It was a lovely and most convivial dinner!  The older I get, the wiser I get.  I can get myself in a right old tizz trying to make something complicated and la-di-da when friends come round, but with this, I am chilled.

I wish I could find a clip online of French and Saunders doing a brilliant sketch where Saunders is cooking dinner for her husband’s boss and basically having a huge meltdown.  I must avoid this kind of kitchen madness.

Here’s Elizabeth’s perfect recipe for a no-fuss, super tasty dinner dish.

Elizabeth Taylor’s Chicken Steamed in Wine

“I know no way better to cook chicken than this.  Because it is so elegant.  It sounds difficult, but actually, you will find that it is very easy.”

3-4 pound boiler-fryer cut in pieces

4 tablespoons salad or olive oil

Flour chicken lightly and brown in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven.

1 small onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons minced parsley

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 ½ cups dry Sauterne

Pour over chicken.  Cover and simmer about an hour, or until tender.

And that’s it!  It’s wonderful over rice, or just by itself.  But do have French bread, or something to mop up the wonderful sauce.

Serves 6 to 8.

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