Monday, April 20, 2015

Chicken Provencal

Now that Older Daughter’s shower is a wonderful memory, I am attempting to get back on track with my dinner club posts.

Seems like you all read that declaration before.

Honestly, I always have the posts written in my mind….it’s getting them to the keyboard that seems to be the hurdle.

Two weeks ago, we had dinner at M.’s house.  It was still a little chilly that night so she had a nice, relaxing fire going…the perfect ambiance for what she chose to make, Chicken Provencal, Cooks Illustrated edition.  What Cooks Illustrated does best is re-engineer fancy recipes to make them seem less intimidating for the common cook…although M. is far from the common cook.  

As the name suggests, Chicken Provencal originated in Provence, France and is basically a stew with lots of olive oil, garlic and herbs, the foundation of all cooking in Provence. The bone-in thighs and tomatoes give this dish a lot of flavor and the anchovies give the sauce depth.  You will need a dutch oven to make this dish but the delicious melt-in-your-mouth chicken is worth the investment if you don’t have one…plus you can make a gazillion other things in what will become your new favorite cooking vessel!  

This dish produces a sinful sauce, so you will want to have lots of crusty bread available for sopping!  M. also served with polenta.  Above is a photo from the countryside in France....a wonderful trip!

When we have dinner at M.’s house, it’s always my turn to bring salad.  A co-worker gave me a wonderful Fig Vinaigrette recipe: 3 tablespoons each of balsamic and red vinegar vinegar, a generous 2/3 cup of olive oil, 3 garlic cloves, minced, 2 tablespoons of fig jam, salt and pepper.  Mix the vinegars, oil and garlic together, whisk in the jam, salt and pepper to taste.  Toss on a salad of arugula and Manchego cheese.  Delicious.

Chicken Provencal
From:  Cooks Illustrated

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion , chopped fine (about 2/3 cup)
6 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 anchovy fillet , minced (about 1 teaspoon…you could also use anchovy paste)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes (14 1/2 ounces), drained
2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence (optional…this mix usually contains the other herbs listed)
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaf
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup niçoise olives , pitted
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

Pre-heat oven to 300 degree.  Season the chicken with salt.  Heat 1 teaspoon oil in Dutch oven over medium high heat until shimmering.  Add 4 chicken thigh, skin side down and cook without moving until skin is crisp and well browned, about 5 minutes.  Using tongs, flip chicken and brown on second side and transfer to a large plate.  Repeat with the four other thighs.  

Add the onion to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until browned, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic, anchovy and cayenne; cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about one minute.  Add wine and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Stir in tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, thyme, oregano, herbs de Provence, if using and bay leaf.  Remove and discard skin from chicken thighs, then submerge chicken in liquid and add accumulated chicken juices to the the pot. Increase heat to high, bring to a simmer, cover and transfer pot to the oven; cook until chicken offers no resistance when poked with the tip of a paring knife, but still clings to the bones (about 1 1/2 hours).

Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a serving dish and tent with foil.  Discard the bay leaf.  Set the Dutch oven over high heat on the stove top, stir in 1 teaspoon lemon zest, bring to boil and cook, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened and reduced to 2 cups, about 5 minutes.  

Meanwhile, mix remaining 1/2 teaspoon zest with the parsley.  Spoon over chicken, drizzle chicken with remaining olive oil, sprinkle with parsley mixture and serve.

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