Monday, March 27, 2017

wine harvester's chicken.

Should you decide you want to throw a dinner party for friends and serve them something that you can...

1 - Prepare a day or two ahead of time 
2 - Utilizes an under-appreciated piece of meat
3 - Tastes as if your super talented French grand-mother spent hours making it

Might I suggest this chicken dish?   I made it this past weekend for a group of friends and it was a big hit (6 plates were wiped clean so I consider it a success).   It's fragrant, flavorful, full-bodied (that combination of tender shallots, bacon, and reduced wine is quite the trifecta) and just the thing to eat while were're in the middle of this "is it winter/is it spring" kind of weather.  

Wine Harvester's Chicken
Recipe tweaked slightly from David Lebovitz

My only issue was that the sauce didn't quite reduce enough for my taste after 45 min in the oven.  To remedy this, I took the pot out of the oven, took the chicken out, and reduced it on a medium-high burner setting for about 15 minutes.  This got me the right consistency.   

You're also looking for flavorful grapes here!  I used muscat grapes that I found at Whole Foods.   

About 6 chicken thighs (weight about 2 - 2.5 pounds total)
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a tablespoon or more for frying the bacon
1 cup (150g) diced, thick-cut bacon
3 shallots, minced, or 1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups (375ml) dry white wine
1 1/2 cups (375ml) chicken stock
1/4 cup (60ml) red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Two 1-inch (3cm) strips fresh orange zest
10 branches fresh thyme, (or 2 teaspoons dried thyme)
10 allspice berries, lightly crushed or 1/2 teaspoon ground all-spice 
2 cups (315g) stemmed grapes

Season chicken with salt and let sit overnight in the refrigerator. (This step isn't imperative, but does make the meat more succulent.)

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven, large, wide casserole, or roasting pan, that has a lid.

Sear chicken piece so they are brown on both sides, about 5 to 8 minutes per side. Depending on the size of your Dutch oven or casserole, you may need to do them in batches. Remove pieces of chicken to a bowl once they're browned.

Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC.

Saute the bacon in the pot. If necessary, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Stir the bacon until it's mostly cooked, then add the shallots or onion and garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, until the onions are translucent, about 2 minutes.

Add the wine, stock and vinegar to the pot, and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the black pepper, orange zest, thyme, and allspice. Put the chicken pieces in the pot, skin side down, cover and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove the pot from the oven. Turn the chicken pieces over, so they're skin side up. Bake, uncovered, adding the grapes to the pot midway during cooking, until the liquid in the pot is thick and reduced to the point where the chicken pieces are about halfway submerged in sauce, and the chicken is browned. (About 30 to 45 minutes).

Serving: As per David - The chicken would go well with mashed potatoes, or another root vegetable puree, or wide noodles tossed in a little butter.  I served it with homemade semolina gnoochi and roasted carrots (and bread for sopping up the juices!).   

Storage: The chicken will keep for up to three days in the refrigerator.

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