Chicken with white wine, walnuts & (porcini) mushrooms - recipe for one

What an epic fail this week's 'detox' is turning out to be - daily coffee and all notion of Broccoli Soup abandoned!

The unfortunate part about this, is that because I planned to eat Broccoli Soup for most of the week, I didn't go shopping - I definitely don't have any items for this week's meal plan on hand.

Instead, I find myself, finally giving into the fact that I need to cook and stalking around the kitchen opening and closing the fridge and pantry - hoping that a miracle meal will pop out!

Added to my discontent is that the kitchen is a debacle - so no food, messy kitchen and no ideas - the classic makings of a 'Desperado Dinner'. Other factors at play were, I had 2 leftover chicken thighs that had to be used or frozen.

And this is before I even started!  Even the frypan was dirty and had to be cleaned before use

And this is before I even started!  Even the frypan was dirty and had to be cleaned before use

So you will see from the cringe-worthy photos above that I am sticking to my pledge of 'keep it real' / 'show it how it really is' re the state of my kitchen and cupboards. It really is embarrassing and sooooo tempting to rearrange before photographing. However I the purpose of this blog, is to help people cook based on real life scenarios - not when all the ingredients are beautifully laid out in little glass bowls.

Depressingly bare pantry, fridge & freezer

There were a few things I could have used, but they all required opening a new tin, jar or packet of something, and as I really do want to try and get back to the broccoli soup thing, I really didn't want to have to deal with using leftovers, or the guilt of abandoning them. So I was really looking for things that were already open. Also I was trying to avoid pasta, rice etc. - so limiiting my options for an easy dinner even further.

It took some doing and thinking, but in the end I quite enjoyed what I cooked.  It showed:

  • what can be done with what seems like nothing
  • that not having any vegetables or greens in a meal, makes it look unappetising, and definitely un-photogenic
  • that I should listen to my own advice and always keep a packet of frozen peas in the freezer - they would have definitely lifted this meal - at least visually.

The Ingredients - what I eventually came up with

Chicken thighs, walnuts, butter, garlic, quinoa, porcini mushrooms* (Fresh mushrooms can be substituted)

Chicken thighs, walnuts, butter, garlic, quinoa, porcini mushrooms* (Fresh mushrooms can be substituted)

I had porcini mushrooms as a leftover from a recipe I cooked for a dinner party - but I'm guessing they're not a staple in most peoples' pantry.  But I have included this recipe, as I'm sure we all have some odd things lurking at the back of our pantry - and it shows, what can happen with some thought.  However, fresh mushrooms can be used instead. If you do so, you would need to substitute chicken stock for the mushroom water.

Click here for a link to the basic recipe.  Or read further to see pictures of how to cook it and a bit more about what got burnt!  It was definitely a night I should have stuck to the broccoli soup plan and stayed away from the kitchen!

So whilst I was actually in and out of the kitchen within 20 minutes I managed to burn both the Quinoa (agggh - another saucepan to soak and clutter up my kitchen) and the walnuts! Which led to me discovering an ingredient which I didn't originally consider - wine!

Chicken with white wine and porcini mushrooms - saucepan with burnt quinoa

So much for avoiding sugar and processed foods - I decided to have a glass of wine - and use some in the chicken! Lucky it wasn't until I was almost finished that I remembered I had thickened cream in the fridge! I could have had a rich, creamy mushroom sauce - my kind of food!  However, as it was I was saved from myself and what resulted wasn't too bad.

The burn walnuts, meant I was left with a burnt, which means the butter sort of burnt, which meant the garlic did too...

Anway, the first steps in this meal were to get the quinoa cooking and to toast the walnuts. Beware - walnuts are as mean as pinenuts - one minute they are not cooked at all - then next you turn your head and they are burnt!

Because I didn't let the pan cool down enough after burning the walnuts, when I put the butter in, it pretty much started going brown straight away. I removed it from the heat so it could continue to melt without burning too much - but the damage was done - when I put in the garlic, that cooked very quickly as well.  There really was a message here - stick to Broccoli Soup!

After cooking the garlic for a minute or so I added the chicken pieces to cook.  Whilst they were cooking I took the porcini mushrooms from the glass of water they had been soaking in and chopped them up into small pieces so they could be added to the pan.

The next steps were to:

  1. Add splash of wine to the pan, then bring to the boil and simmer for a minute or two so the alcohol 'cooks off'
  2. Add back the porcini mushrooms
  3. Add 3/4 of the water that the porcini mushrooms had been soaking in. (If you are using fresh mushrooms, either use water, or for extra depth and flavour use 3/4 cup of chicken stock)
  4. Bring to the boil and let simmer for 10 - 15 minutes so that the liquid reduces.  The pictures below, show the amount of liquid I started with and what it looked like after 12 minutes.  An amount that was not too liquid, but suitable to be 'sauce-y' and mix in with the quinoa
  5. Stir through toasted walnuts
  6. Serve on quinoa or rice, or even cauliflower rice

Amount of liquid to begin with

Amount of liquid once reduced

So all in all, this is actually quite easy to do and is a winner because it requires minimal preparation and washing up.

Hacks and Adaptations

  • don't feel like quinoa - use rice, cauliflower rice or serve with mash - anything that will soak up the sauce
  • feeling decadent, add a tablespoon of cream at the end for a richer sauce
  • don't have porcini mushrooms - use fresh mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms after the garlic and before adding the chicken. Instead of adding in the 'mushroom water' ad in chicken stock. Or if you dont' have chicken stock, add a little water and just cook for 5 minutes instead of 10- 12
  • missing your greens
    • add a handful of frozen peas when you add the mushrooms
    • add finely chopped asparagus 2 minutes before cooking finishes
    • add a couple of big handfuls of spinach at the end, turn off the flame, and put the lid on the pan and let sit for 2 - 3 minutes, until the spinach wilts