Thursday, March 12, 2009

(MarieFinds) Chicken was on sale...

I tend to fall into a rut with cooking. Trot out the same rotation of recipes over and over. The Lawyer is a much more imaginative cook. I have a ton of chicken in the freezer. Whole chickens were on sale for $.99 / lb the other day, so I have quite a few. And I wanted to try something new:

Served with a side of soft polenta and broccoli. The Squirrel couldn't get enough.

From "all about braising" (one of my favorite cookbooks)

Makes 4 servings

1/3 cup brined green olives *

3 1/2 pounds chicken legs and thighs

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

All-purpose flour for dredging

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup dry white wine or vermouth

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed

4 strips lemon zest removed with a vegetable peeler (each about 2 1/2 inches by 3/4 inch) (I used 1/2 cup of chopped meyer lemon - peel and all)

2 whole cloves

3/4 cup plump, soft pitted prunes

Remove the pits by smashing the olives one at a time with the side of a large knife, then slipping the pits out. Dry the chicken thoroughly with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper. Dredge half the chicken pieces in flour and shake off any excess. Heat the oil in a large deep skillet or shallow braising pan (12 to 14 inches is about right). Place the dredged chicken skin side down in the pan and sear until a nut brown crust forms on the first side, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the chicken with tongs and brown on the other side, another 3 to 4 minutes. While the chicken is browning, pat the remaining pieces dry and dredge in the flour. Transfer the seared chicken to a platter and brown the remaining pieces. Transfer those pieces to the platter.

Pour off any fat from the pan and quickly wipe out any black specks with a damp paper towel, but leave behind any browned bits. Add the wine, vinegar, garlic, zest and cloves and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up those flavorful browned bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet.

Return the chicken pieces to the skillet, arranging them in a single layer. Pour over any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Scatter over the prunes and olives. Cover tightly and reduce heat to low. Braise at a gentle simmer, basting occasionally and turning the pieces with tongs halfway through, until the chicken is tender and pulls away from the bone, about 30 to 40 minutes. (If the chicken is simmering too vigorously, reduce the heat or place a heat diffuser under the skillet).

Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the chicken to a broiling pan. Skim any visible fat from the sauce with a wide spoon and raise the heat under the skillet to high; reduce the pan juices for 2 to 3 minutes to concentrate the flavor. Taste and adjust salt and pepper seasoning. Remove and discard the cloves and lemon zest.

Run the chicken under the broiler to crisp the skin. Serve with the pan juices.

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