Cheering, warm and welcome

When it’s dark and cold outside, the best place to be is at home beside a roaring fire, a glass of red wine in hand.

The food you serve on these occasions needs to be rich, indulgent and, of course, home cooked.

In this dish the rather plump chicken parcels are kept moist and succulent in their bacon wrappers.

The prunes leach a sweet piquancy into the thick, robust red wine and tomato sauce.

It is all so very cheering, warm and welcoming.


Chicken parcels in red wine and tomato sauce


8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1kg)
8 long rashers of smoked, streaky bacon (for wrapping)

100g dried pitted prunes
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1½ tsp dried oregano
3 Tbsp orange juice, about

1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp crushed ginger
1½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp plain flour
½ cup dry red wine
1 400g can pureed tomatoes


Lightly oil the base and sides of an 8-cup ovenproof casserole dish (mine is 18cm x 26cm x 5cm).

Trim the chicken thighs of any excess fat and set aside.

Separate bacon rashers and set aside.

To make the stuffing

Combine the prunes, bread crumbs and oregano.

Stir in the orange juice, adding an extra drop or two, if needed, to make a light, rather crumbly stuffing.

To assemble

Lay the chicken thighs flat with the inside of the thigh uppermost. Place a tablespoon (about one eighth of stuffing) on one half of the thigh.

Fold the other half over the top to enclose the stuffing. Wrap a rasher of streaky bacon around each prepared chicken parcel.

Secure with toothpicks if you need to but I think they stay together very well without.

Place in the casserole dish. The chicken can be prepared to this stage up to 12 hours before cooking. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Heat the oven to 200degC.

To make the sauce

In a microwave-proof bowl combine the garlic, ginger, paprika, cinnamon, brown sugar and flour. Mix all together adding a little red wine if needed to make a smooth paste.

Add the remaining wine and the tomatoes and stir well.

Cover the bowl and heat in the microwave until almost boiling. This can be done in a saucepan if more convenient.

Once the sauce is ready, pour it around the chicken parcels. The sauce should surround rather than cover the chicken.

Place casserole dish uncovered in the oven and cook for 45-50 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the chicken juices run clear when skewered in the centre.

Serve with creamy mashed potatoes and your favourite winter vegetables or a salad.


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