From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
12 rindless streaky bacon rashers
12 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
3 tblsp rapeseed oil
2 onions, cut into wedges
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
2 garlic cloves, crushed
275g (10oz) flat mushrooms, sliced
2 tblsp redcurrant jelly
Finely grated rind of 1 orange
1 bay leaf
450ml (¾ pint) chicken stock
120ml (4fl oz) dry cider
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tblsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tblsp toasted flaked almonds
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Creamy mashed potatoes, to serve
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6).
Stretch each rasher with the back of a table knife and then wrap it around a chicken thigh. Heat the oil in a large casserole with a lid and cook the wrapped chicken thighs in batches until lightly browned all over. Arrange on a plate and set aside.
Reduce the heat, then add the onions and sweet potatoes. Sauté for 5 minutes, until golden.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring to prevent it from sticking.
Add the mushrooms, redcurrant jelly, orange rind and bay leaf then pour in the stock and cider.
Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, return the chicken to the casserole and stir in the thyme.
Cover and cook for 1 hour, or until the chicken is completely tender and the sauce has thickened slightly. Season to taste and stir in the parsley.
To serve, sprinkle the casserole with the flaked almonds, then place directly on the table with a large bowl of creamy mashed potatoes to mop up all those delicious juices.