- 750ml bottle full-bodied red wine (needn't be expensive, just gutsy)
- 4 large chicken legs, halved (or 8 thighs), preferably free range
- 3 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
- 25g unsalted butter
- 2 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 25g plain flour
- 1 bouquet garni with 2 bay leaves and 1 large sprig of thyme, optional
- zest of 1 orange removed with a vegetable peeler (so it doesn't dissolve completely)
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- 20 very plump prunes, stoned
- cornflour, if needed
- sugar, to taste
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Reduce the wine by half over a high heat – this takes 15-20 minutes. Leave to cool a little then pour it over the chicken in a shallow dish and leave to marinate for 10- 15 minutes. This done, drain the chicken and pat it dry. Keep the marinade for the sauce.
Preheat the oven to 110C/Gas 1⁄4/fan 90C. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole. (If you don’t have one, do this in a large saucepan.) Season the chicken, then fry to colour in the oil for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat, add the butter and caramelise for a further 5-10 minutes, until the chicken is a beautiful dark brown colour.
Pour off the fat, add the tomatoes and cook over a high heat for 2 minutes so they start to caramelise and get wonderfully roasty toasty. Spoon in the flour, stirring well to make sure you don’t get any lumps. Now gradually pour in the reduced wine, stirring like mad, then just enough water (about 500ml/18fl oz), to cover the chicken. Drop in the bouquet garni, if using, and orange zest.
Bring the liquid gently to the boil, tip in the prunes and skim the top (if you’ve used a saucepan, tip into a casserole now). Braise in the oven, with the lid slightly ajar, for 2 hours. Make absolutely sure the liquid never boils. Check to see if the chicken is tender enough to eat with a spoon – it should be falling apart – then take out of the oven.
Lift out the chicken and prunes into a serving dish and keep warm. Reduce the sauce until it is rich in colour and strong in taste, with the thickness of a gravy. If necessary, when it has the strong taste you want but is not thick enough, thicken with a little cornflour dissolved in water. Season with salt, sugar and black pepper, then strain it back over the chicken and prunes. Serve sprinkled with the orange zest and parsley.