Braised chicken legs in red wine

Serves 4


  • 8 chicken legs, separated into thigh and drum sticks
  • 1 bottle full-bodied red wine
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 50 ml groundnut oil
  • 30 g butter
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 24 small shallots, peeled
  • 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 30 g dried ceps
  • 1 bouquet garni (2 bay leaves, i large sprig dried thyme or savour)
  • 2 dried orange zest
  • Cornflour (optional)
  • Caster sugar

To finish:

  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 12 large olives, stoned and chopped
  • 3 large sprigs thyme, picked from the stalks, chopped


  • Preheat oven to 110 C
  • Put the chicken pieces in a dish that just holds them.
  • Reduce the red wine by half over your highest heat. Leave the wine to cool a little, pour over the chicken and leave to marinate for half an hour or so, turning occasionally. This done, drain the chicken pieces and pat them dry, keeping the red wine marinade for the sauce.
  • Heat the groundnut oil in a large ovenproof saucepan, or do it in a frying pan and then transfer the chicken to a casserole dish. Season the chicken well, then sear and colour for 5 minutes. You need to fry the pieces in a single layer so do it in batches if necessary. Reduce the heat, remove the fat, then add the butter and caramelise the chicken pieces for a further 5 minutes until they are beautiful dark brown colour
  • Remove the fat from the pan, add the whole garlic cloves and shallots and sweat these for a minute or so. Add the tomato and cook at the highest heat for 2 minutes. Spoon in the flour and stir well, making sure that no lumps form. Add the dry ceps.
  • Pour in the reduced red wine gradually, then just enough water to cover, and add the bouquet garni and orange zest. Bring to the boil and skim, then place into a preheated oven and braise for 2 hours, making absolutely sure that the liquid never boils.
  • Check to see if the chicken is tender enough to eat with a spoon, then remove from the oven.
  • Lift out the chicken pieces and reduce the sauce until it is rich in colour and strong in taste. (The chicken will keep in its sauce at this stage for up to three days in the fridge. If you do this, reheat the chicken pieces very gently, stirring as little possible so they don’t break up when you are going to serve them.)
  • If necessary, thicken the sauce with a little cornflower and season with salt, sugar and black pepper. Add the chicken back into the sauce and serve them with fresh pasta and, if you like, a sprinkling of orange zest, tomatoes, olives and thyme

Recipe by Alex MacKay and photo by Peter Knab