A fragrant main dish that can be made in advance and will wow your picnic pals.
- 6 chicken breasts (skinned)
- 3 celery sticks
- 1 onion, skinned and halved
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and quartered
- 1 star anise
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 500ml dry white wine
- 1l chicken stock
- 6 baby gem lettuces, halved lengthways, and then cut into quarters
- 1 pinch saffron
- 1 tbsp boiling water
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp French mustard
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 pinch salt
- 150ml rapeseed oil
- 1 small clove garlic, finely grated
- 2 slices sourdough bread, blitzed into chunky breadcrumbs
- 3 tbsp oil from a jar of anchovies
- Start by poaching the chicken. Place the chicken breasts, celery, onion, fennel, star anise, and butter in a large shallow pan (a high-sided frying or sauté pan works well), pour in the wine, and then top up with enough stock so that the chicken pieces are just covered. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down, cover, and simmer for 10 mins. Then remove the pan from the heat, and let the chicken cool in the poaching liquid. When cooled, remove the chicken from the liquid and cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Heat a griddle pan until smoking hot, lightly brush each side of the lettuce quarters with a little vegetable oil, and sprinkle with salt. Cook the lettuce on the griddle for a couple of minutes on each side until charred and marked with the grooves of the pan, but still with a fair bit of crunch in the middle. Remove, and set aside to cool.
- To make the aioli, seep the saffron in the boiling water for 5 mins. Whisk the egg yolks, saffron water (including strands), and mustard until smooth, then add the lemon juice and pinch of salt. Continue to whisk, and slowly drizzle in the oil until the mixture emulsifies and thickens. Mix in the grated garlic, transfer to a container, and set aside.
- Heat the anchovy oil in a frying pan, add the breadcrumbs, fry until coloured, then set aside on some kitchen paper to drain. When cool, place in a small container.
- Transfer the chicken and lettuce in a large container, and serve at the picnic with a drizzle of aioli, and a sprinkle of the anchovy crumb.