Chef's Table: Tuscan Chicken

One of the many problems of Valentine's day is that it takes place in the second coldest month of the year.  You need tasty food that holds its heat and makes you feel all glowy inside.  And wine to go with it.

Now, for V-day I have saved you the nearest thing I have to a signature dish.  My better half just loves it.

[box type="tick"]Ingredients:  

  • Four skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • A handful of pancetta or diced cooking bacon.
  • Half a punnet of mushrooms
  • 250 ml of Mavrodaphne sweet red wine
  • One tin of good quality chopped tomatoes
  • 125 ml of chicken stock
  • 50 ml of Worcestershire sauce
  • One ball of Mozzarella
  • And bread to go with it, I recommend either Tiger bread or Focaccia


  • One big wok
  • Two ovenware bowls for one
  • One red chopping board and knife
  • One green or brown chopping board and a vegetable knife


  1. Start by dicing your chicken and bacon on the red board.  Then thinly slice the mushrooms on the other board using a different knife.  If you have to use the same one, clean it very thoroughly with boiling water and a scourer.

  2. Heat the wok with a tablespoon of sunflower oil. While that is heating up, pre-heat your oven at 200 degrees.

  3. Add your chicken and bacon to the pan and stir until the chicken is white and the bacon is darker.  The fat from the two will mingle and form the base for the unique flavour.

  4. Righty then, time for a little product placement now.  Mavrodaphne is a Greek dessert wine from Patras.  It is delicious served chilled (yes, really, chilled red wine, go with me on this one) or served with a shot of Metaxas Greek brandy in the bottom.  But I also love using it in cooking. Pour out one large glass (250ml) and pour it over the chicken and bacon.  Refill the glass and drink.  Keith Floyd has never left us.

  5. Add 125ml of chicken stock and allow the mix to reduce slightly.

  6. Open the tomatoes and add to the wok.  Stir in well.  Add two good tablespoons of worcestershire sauce.  Continue to stir and let it reduce a little.  It may seem a little thin but it will thicken on it's own.

  7. Open the ball of mozzarella.  Drain the water and slice it thinly.

  8. Carefully take the wok off the heat and ladle the contents into the two ovenware bowls.  Layer the mozzarella over the top of the bowl.  Just enough to cover it.

  9. Using a thick towel, place the bowls into the oven, and leave to bake for no more than five minutes.  The cheese will melt on top and the mix will mature and thicken quickly. 

  10. Remove bowls from the oven and place them on wide, cool plates.  Add your bread to the side of the plate and serve.

The whole process takes less than twenty minutes and tastes amazing.  This is one of my classics.

Anyway, enjoy Valentine's day and I hope you like Mavrodaphne. (Check major supermarkets if your local store doesn't stock it. Or contact Nick to find out more- Ed)

By chef Nick Gilmartin who can be contacted on @Nick1975 or find out more here.