k  Coq au Cava with roasted grapes and spring broad beans  k


I couldn’t resist naming this dish as I have, I guess it’s a homage to 90s Lambrusco! So we have had a bottle of cheap semi sec cava sitting in our cupboard collecting dust for over a year, question is how the hell did it get there? After being sick of the sight of it I thought ‘I’m going to cook with this’, at least it gets rid of it. I took a cautionary sip and was immediately transported back to many a fun family barbeque in the 90s. The idea of devoting a recipe to lambrusco (in this case cheap demi sec cava) may strike you as proof that I’ve finally lost it, but please bear with me – sightings of Lambrusco are actually now a rarity, but it’s now all the rage in New York, popping up in Italian restaurants – and even the newly opened Bibo in west London make a feature of it on their wine list. I predict that Pacha and Lio will be selling it before too long!


The first step of my recipe is to marinade the chicken overnight in it’s own cava bubble bath, along with fresh thyme, garlic, shallots and lemon juice .


This recipe is really easy to make, the most fiddly element to this dish is double shelling the broad beans, but I find there’s something therapeutic about shelling things, whether it’s peas or peanuts – it’s my way of getting into a medative state but feeling that you’re achieving something. I did try and get my husband involved but his response was something that I cannot repeat!


Once all the marinating and shelling is done it is then slowly braised and with the addition of some sweet delicate roasted grapes and the gorgeous vibrancy of shelled broad beans, this actually makes a rather sophisticated dish. For a luxurious creamy sauce, add a spoonful of mascarpone cream in at the end.



(serves 4)

1 large free range chicken chopped into 6 portions (or 8 chicken thighs skin on)
Almost a whole bottle of cava/lambrusco (pour a glass for yourself)
6 fresh thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
Seasoned flour for dusting the chicken (I used rice flour)

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves chopped garlic
4 shallots finely chopped
150 ml good quality chicken stock
Bunch of seedless white grapes – cut into mini bunches stems on
200g double shelled broad beans
An optional dollop of mascarpone cream or crème fraiche


1. Get a large bowl and add the chicken pieces, garlic, thyme, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Cover bowl and refrigerate chicken for at least 6 hours (can be prepared a day ahead, up to 24 hours).

2. Now prepare the broad beans, it will take a bit of time and patience. Firstly open the pod and remove the beans from the velvety inside, then plunge them into boiling water for about 5 minutes, drain and then run them under cold water. Pierce the light green outer shell – I use my thumb nail to ease out the beautiful vibrant bean from inside. Keep them in a bowl, again this can even be done in advance.

3. Once the chicken has been marinated, remove from the bowl and pat with kitchen roll to dry it. Keep the marinade. Get a large plate and sprinkle it with flour and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Toss the chicken in the seasoned flour.

4. Heat the olive oil in a wide pan over a medium heat, add the chicken in batches to quickly brown it all over. Add more oil if it is sticking. Remove the chicken and scrape all the crispy bits out of the pan. Remove the chicken from a the pan

5. Tip in the chopped shallots, sauté for a few minutes then add the garlic and continue to cook for a further 2 mins. Return the chicken to the pan and pour in the cava, 150ml chicken stock and a little salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then gently simmer for 45 mins covering with a lid halfway through the cooking time

6. While the chicken is cooking, put the mini bunches of grapes on a baking tray, drizzle with oil, a good pinch of salt and pepper, a few sprigs of rosemary and roast in a preheated oven (180oc) for 20 minutes, you will notice that some burst – it doesn’t matter!

7. When the chicken is nice and tender and the grapes are cooked, stir the beans into the pan and briefly warm through. Place the chicken in a shallow serving bowl and arrange the grapes over and around the chicken. Add an optional dollop of crème fraiche or mascarpone if you want a creamy sauce.