I’ve been trying to get back in to the swing of things now the holidays are over. I can’t be the only one with back-to-work blues, surely?
But after two exciting weeks of exploring France’s coastlines in the camper van I converted myself, I’ve felt so inspired to return to get back in to my kitchen and have a play.
It’s been a few years since we’d been, now that the in laws don’t live there anymore, but it was our first time a camper and for Hans, our fur baby collie.The plan was to drive around the whole outskirts of France in two weeks and naively, we thought it could be done. (Not unless we want to stare at tar-mac for the duration, we realised).
And every beautiful place, we had an urge to feast our eyes on, rest and enjoy the sunshine while we had it.
Our favourite area by far though was the West, despite being curious to move on to the Med and see what it was all about. As soon as we got there, I was missing the long, golden and dog friendly sandy beaches.
And it may surprise you that we didn’t eat out an awful lot. Our camper van is fully equipped with a kitchen, bed and toilet, so we spent more time seeing what E.leclerc supermarkets had to offer.
Also, when we arrived, the exchange rate was pretty bad right now and more or less a pound to a euro. But I was still tempted to see France’s take on a McDonalds and had what I thought was a superb juicy burger at Buffalo Grills.
I don’t consider it as adventurous visiting a chain restaurant, but after seeing them at the road side (more common than a Little Chef in its heyday), they’d reeled us in to give them a go. It turned out better value than I expected and ultimately delicious.
When we initially arrived to Normandy though, I found the weather typically British until we drove South. And the warmer it became, the more we got in to a routine of visiting a local Boulangerie for a fresh daily baguette to go with salad and sliced meats.
As much as we were enjoying ourselves, by the second week, I officially declared myself baguette-ed out. I’d started to feel a full to the brim sickness feeling with no warning which led to a headache and a 3 day ugly migraine on my return. In fact, my stomach is still feeling a little sensitive now, but it’s certainly not stopping me visiting again.So, once I felt better enough to go food shopping, I thought I’d plan making one of my favourite French dishes without the guilt and that is an adapted version of Coq au Vin.
After seeing plentiful fresh ingredients in a French campsite’s shop (and the regret of not buying a bouquet garni), I instantly thought of this recipe.
I’ve not made it for years because of Slimming World and really don’t think that should be stopping me.It’s usually quite an expensive meal, but having picked up most of my things in Aldi, it really softens the blow. The most expensive part about it is the chicken and wine.
As for the latter, I’m sure some of you will say it’s a deal breaker, but I opted for Tesco red wine stockpots instead. I just don’t like the idea of syns when the alcohol is cooked off anyway. Am I missing something here?
Of course, if you feel you need to replace some of the stock with real wine, then I’m not stopping you! (You’ll want to reduce it down first for a more subtle taste).I also brought a bit of France home with us too in the way of salt. While we looked for many Aires to sleep over, we discovered a really cool place with much sea water and roads intertwined. This was Guérande.
The salt marshes in Guérande lead the way for mile and miles, where hundreds would be working and selling it in bags at road sides.
We, however, stumbled across it again in a final supermarket trip to stock up on various things we liked to take home with us. So, although very little French offering in my family feast, it was fun to cook with.
Hopefully we’ll be returning in the New Year for my birthday and finally pay a visit to Paris. What’s your favourite part of France? Mine is definitely west of Bordeaux in La Porge.
If you want to see more of our holiday photos, there will be much more over at my DIY & self made camper van blog, The Carpenter’s Daughter.
Also, I cooked mine in my Tefal Cook4Me Connect multicooker, but as I usually cook it on my hob, you’ll find the instructions for that too!
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Slimming World Syn Free Coq au Vin
A guilt free French family feast of Coq au Vin (chicken in wine).
- 1.5 kg Chicken breasts (skinless & boneless) Each cut in to 3 pieces (or smaller if you wish)
- 40 g Basic porridge oats Equivalent of 1 person's HE B
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 Red wine stock pots (I used Tesco's)
- 500ml Water (FOR PRESSURE COOKERS) or 700ml ON THE HOB
- 1 Chicken stock cube
- 3 Carrots Peeled & sliced
- 2 Celery stick sliced
- 20 Shallots / baby onions Placed in boiled water for easy peeling
- 1 Bouquet garni I used 1 sachet from Schwartz.
- 200 g Bacon medallions (fat trimmed) Sliced
- 400 g Button mushrooms left whole
- Fresh parsley to garnish
Spray a deep saucepan with frylight and sear all sides of the chicken until golden. you may need to do this in batches and set aside. Pour any chicken juices in to the stock.
Spray the pan with frylight again and fry the sliced bacon until cooked and set aside with the chicken.
Spray the pan once more and saute all the vegetables for 5-6 minutes, until the onions are starting to look tender.
Add the chicken and bacon back to the pan and add the remaining ingredients except the parsley and bring to the boil, then low the heat to a simmer before placing the lid on and cooking for a further 30 minutes.
PRESSURE COOKERS/ MULTICOOKERS: Cook for 10 minutes on Pressure Cooking setting. Normally I cook mine on the hob, but on this occasion, I used my Tefal Cook4Me Connect.
Once cooked, remove the bouquet garni, serve with mashed potatoes and garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy!
Don't forget to tag me on Instagram if you enjoyed it! (@TastefullyVikkie)