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Hindle Wakes Recipe

A traditional Lancashire chicken dish, probably brought over from The Low Countries by Flemish weavers in the 14th century.

For our point of view, it's named after the town of Hindle, and was consumed during the annual holiday or 'wake'.

Dorothy Hartley gives a recipe in her 1954 book 'Food in England'. This was adapted by Jane Grigson, in her excellent book 'The Observer Guide to British Cookery' to include a lighter stuffing - more suitable to modern tastes - and this recipe is adapted below.

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For 6 people:

- a 2.5 kilo/5 lb oven ready chicken
- 450g/1 lb large prunes, soaked for 2 hours
- a bouquet garni of 2 sprigs each of parsley, thyme, marjoram - plus 2 sage leaves
- salt and freshly-ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons of malt vinegar
- a tablespoon of soft brown sugar
- the giblets of the bird - if possible; minus the liver (which is bitter, but can be saved to make paté)
- 2 level tablespoons of salt
- 1 stick of celery, carefully washed
- 1 big onion, unpeeled, stuck with 3 cloves
- 1 bay leaf; 4 sprigs of parsley; 4 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon of dried)
- 6 tablespoons malt vinegar
- a tablespoon of soft brown sugar

To Finish:

- 150ml/5 fl oz double cream
- the juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
- 30g/1 oz butter
- a rounded tablespoon flour
- 150ml/5 fl oz milk
- 225g/8 oz thinly-cut slices of ham
- some fresh parsley and chopped chives to decorate.


- Simmer the prunes in their soaking water, until it is easy to remove their stones. Set the nicest ones aside for a garnish, but seasoning over half, and stuffing them into the chicken with the bouquet garni.

- Put the stuffed chicken into a deep pot, which fits it fairly closely, around surround it with the remaining ingredients (except those for finishing the dish).

- Pour in enough water to just cover the legs, and put an old butter paper, or some foil, over the breast.

- Bring to simmering point, skim, and the cover.

- Cook in a slow oven 150°C/300°F/Gas 2; or slowly on top of the cooker for about 1½ hours; or until the juices run clear, if a sharp knife or skewer is stuck in the thickest part of the thigh. Remove the pot from the heat.

- Make a roux in another saucepan, by gently melting the butter, and stirring in the flour to form a smooth paste; add the cream and mix this in.

- Now, over a low heat, slowly add 500ml/17 fl oz of strained chicken stock into the cream mixture, stirring all the time until the sauce has thickened.

- Add the juice and grated lemon rind to the sauce, adjust the seasoning, and allow to cool, stirring occasionally to stop a skin forming.

- Remove the bird from its stock and allow it to cool.

- When it is completely cold, place it on a wire rack over a tray, and using a palette knife spread the sauce smoothly over the chicken.

- Put the chicken on a big serving plate, and arrange the reserved prunes, ham slices, parsley and chopped chives around in an attractive manner.

Serve cold rather than chilled.

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