Saturday, July 2, 2011

Recipe: Chicken Corsica

I want there to be no peasant in my kingdom so poor that he cannot have a chicken in his pot every Sunday. – Henry IV

If the hunter came home empty handed something from the farmyard was used.
Photo: Joost J. Bakker, Flickr ccl
As you may know, I’m a big fan of the one-pot meal, or as close to one pot as I can get. I think it stems from an abhorrence of a sink full of dirty dishes. Who likes to do dishes?

There are many “stew” related dishes from around the world that use chicken. Thighs are an excellent use for those kind of braised recipes because that cut tends not to dry out over longer cooking times.

Photo: hardworking hippy, Flickr ccl
There are several excellent (mostly tomato-based) recipes from varying European countries, all with very long histores. They are quite similar except for what is included, according to region. Some you may be familiar with are Chicken Cacciatore, Chicken Marengo, and Chicken Chasseur. 

Loosely, they all fall under the heading of “Hunter’s Chicken.” The story goes that if the hunter came home empty handed the wife (it was the wife then – no sexism intended) would dispatch a chicken for the evening meal.

Most of the recipes are quite similar and as you would imagine has the same base ingredients: onions, mushrooms, tomato in some form, and garlic. Where they diverge is in the rest, such as herbs and spices, olives, etc. You can see how England wouldn’t have access to olives so their traditional recipes doesn’t have them.

I opted for Corsican. The homeland of Napoleon lies in the Mediterranean between the mainland of France and Italy, so it has flavours from both countries. This recipe is fairly close to Chicken Marengo save for the type of olives used. Marengo uses kalamata which are quite strong in flavour. This recipe uses sliced black which are milder.

I still had one package of chicken thighs from the sale last week at our local grocery. This recipe was a great way to use them. I was also able to make it ahead. I think this benefits this type of recipe. It allows the flavours to meld better after some time in the refrigerator.

Some baked potatoes and asparagus were fine accompaniments to round out this delicious meal. I hope you enjoy it too.

Chicken Corsica
Prep 5 min  | Cook 1 hr 10 min  |  Serves 4
8 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
2 medium onions, chopped 
3 garlic cloves, crushed 
1/2 lb white mushrooms, quartered
2 cups good white wine (what you would drink)
2 tbsp tomato purée 
3 thyme sprigs
1 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then fry in a dutch oven or large sauté pan for about 5 mins on each side until golden brown. Fat will render out as it cooks. Remove the chicken thighs and set aside.

Leave about 2 tablespoons of the collected fat in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and garlic, and sauté for about 3 mins until soft. 

Quarter the mushrooms and add to the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes. Any remaining fat will be absorbed by the mushrooms. Stir in the tomato purée, let the liquid bubble for about 2 mins, then stir in the thyme and stock. 

Slip the chicken back into the pan, then cover with the lid slightly askew and simmer on a low heat for about 1 hr until the chicken is very tender. 

If desired, you can simmer to the end of the 1 hour, refrigerate overnight and then reheat and continue as outlined below.

Remove the chicken from the pot and reduce the sauce until it begins to thicken. Add the chicken back to the pan and let heat through.

Serve with a side vegetable and baked potatoes in their jackets.


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