Now that the clocks have gone back and the nights have drawn in it is time to turn ones focus on warming, wintery dishes and suitably robust wines. A staple of the Yapp household is 'no brain chicken' for which credit for the recipe and its title goes to the food and drink journalist Richard Ehrlich writing in the Guardian over a decade ago. The appeal of this dish is its simplicity and versatility and the fact that it is great for using up oddments lurking in the recesses of the fridge. You can deploy most vegetables with this one but potatoes are best avoided unless they are really firm and waxy and able to retain their shape and texture. You need a large earthenware or Pyrex roasting dish which you then half fill with (for example) a few coarsely chopped stalks of celery, a red and / or white onion, a sliced red and / or yellow pepper and maybe some shredded savoy cabbage or cavolo nero. I normally bung in a few de-stoned black olives and a handful of lightly sautéed chopped chorizo or lardons and a couple of finely-diced chillis. You then place pieces of (preferably free-range) chicken on top of that lot (thighs with the skin still on work best) and add a bottle of white or rosé wine – less perhaps a glass for the chef. Some purists insist you should cook with aspirational wine (which this month would be our white Jurançon Sec from Domaine Bellegarde) which I might consider for a dinner party but in this instance something cheap and cheerful (like our Yapp Blanc) will suffice. I then season the chicken thighs with plenty of salt and pepper and a spot of Tabasco and cook it in a pre-heated oven for at least an hour at 180 degrees. You should turn the chicken over after half an hour to ensure it browns on both sides and make sure any protruding vegetables aren't in danger of burning. After about 90 minutes that should be done to a turn and it will sit quite happily in warm oven should any family members be late home from a very important meeting.
Unfailingly I serve that with plain boiled long grain rice but there is no reason mashed potato or other carbohydrates couldn't be brought into play. That would just about stand up to either of our red wines of the month – the lovely, Merlot-based cassis infused Bordeaux from Château d'Abzac or the benchmark, briary, Côtes du Rhône 'Mon Coeur' from J-L Chave Sélection.
Our wonderful English apples are now in season so if I was still peckish after a bowl of that I might indulge in a Cox's Pippin and a morsel of tangy, mature cheddar.