Young Chickens with Peaches

This recipe comes from a manor house near Guildford in Surrey. It was written down in the early nineteenth century with a note that it was “very old” and had been made in that household every summer for several centuries.

The kitchen garden had small, violet-red Peregrine peaches fan-trained on its walls and these were used for this dish. Serve with green beans and rice.

Ingredients

  • 4 small poussins, or 2 large poussins cut in halves
  • 4 small peaches, blanched, peeled, halved and stoned
  • 2 teaspoons castor sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • cup (1.5 dl) white wine
  • Seasoned flour
  • 4 thin lemon slices
  • 4 slices streaky bacon
  • 1 stick (120 g) butter
  • 8 mushrooms about 1 inch (2.5 cm) across the cap, stalks discarded
  • cup (1.5 dl) chicken stock (stock cube will do)
  • 4 tablespoons double cream
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Put the peach halves, cut sides up, in a flat, fireproof dish. Sprinkle with the sugar and nutmeg and pour over the wine. Leave standing for a few minutes.

Rub the chickens all over with seasoned flour. Lay a slice of lemon on the breast of each bird and cover it with a slice of bacon.

Put the chickens in a baking tin with half the butter cut into small pieces.

Bake at 400°F (200°C, Gas Mark 6) for 20 to 30 minutes, near the top of the oven. Put the peaches in at the same time on a lower shelf.

Meanwhile, sauté the mushroom caps in the rest of the butter. Heat the stock and keep warm.

Dish the chickens on to a large flat platter. Arrange the peach halves round them. Pour the wine and peach juice into the stock. Place a mushroom in the hollow of each peach. Keep hot.

Pour off the butter from the pan in which the chickens have been roasted. Stir the cream into the pan juices. Stir hard for 30 seconds and then slowly pour in the stock and wine mixture. Stir again and add a very little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour over the chickens and serve at once.

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