With the seemingly endless supply of convenient chicken recipes for weeknights, it can be easy to forget that chicken was once considered a delicacy.
Flipping through my copy of “Escoffier’s Cookbook”, I was struck by the opulence attached to the bird. It has starred in dozens of recipes, wrapped in puff pastry, dipped in cream, wrapped in leaves of aged ham, stuffed with truffles, drizzled with Madeira. There was no dinner on a plate in sight.
And all of these recipes gave me exactly the inspiration I needed to create a creamy, wine-braised chicken dish that’s luxurious enough for a holiday meal, but not much more complicated than I’d any Tuesday.
The first thing is to find really good chicken. If you can get it at a farmers market, great. Alternatively, look for air-chilled, antibiotic-free, and preferably organic chicken at the supermarket. It will be more expensive than a standard bird, but making big chicken is still less of a splurge than buying many other classic, meaty holiday options.
Then there are the mushrooms in the recipe, which can be as extravagant as you want them to be. Creminis, shiitakes, and white buds will work perfectly, although if you’re going all out, specialty mushrooms like king, hen of the woods, and chanterelles add even more intense flavor.
You will also need wine for the sauce. Common kitchen wisdom dictates adding a splash of the bottle you plan to drink at dinner. But I usually use leftover wine from dinner the day before or two days before. When sealed and stored in the fridge, leftover wine is great for cooking, and you can use any (dry) variety for that adaptable ember. This means white, red, rosé or even a sparkling or orange wine, if that’s what you have.
Like all braises, this one gets better after sitting all night. Prepare it until you incorporate the fresh cream, then place it in the refrigerator for up to two days. Reheat it over low heat on the stove or in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Then add the fresh cream and the garnishes.
Serve it with crusty bread, polenta, rice or a heap of buttery noodles, with more crème fraîche on the side for maximum richness and maximum enjoyment.
Braised Chicken In Wine With Mushrooms And Leeks
Yield: 4 servings
Total duration: 1 hour
- 1 (3 1/2 pounds) chicken, cut into 8 pieces (or use 3 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (Diamond Crystal), plus more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more if needed
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms (preferably specialty mushrooms, such as king, hen of the woods, chanterelles, or black trumpet mushrooms, or a combination)
- 2 large leeks (4 cups), halved and thinly sliced into half moons (use the white and light green parts)
- 2 to 3 sprigs of rosemary
- 3/4 cup dry white wine (or use a dry red or rosé)
- 1/4 cup creme fraiche, plus more for serving if desired
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley, tender leaves and stems
1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towel. Season everything with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and black pepper. Grate finely, pass through a press or mince 2 cloves of garlic. Reserve half of the grated garlic for finishing the dish. Rub the rest over the chicken pieces. Reserve the chicken while you prepare the other ingredients.
2. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, combine 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. When the butter melts, add the chicken in batches and cook until browned on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes per side. If the pan dries out, add a little more oil as needed. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate.
3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and butter to the pan. Once the butter is melted, add the mushrooms and cook undisturbed until nicely browned on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir and cook 1 minute more.
4. Thinly slice 2 garlic cloves. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the sliced garlic, leeks and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are tender and golden, 7 minutes. Add rosemary and wine to pot and simmer, scraping up browned bits, until liquid reduces by half, about 1 minute.
5. Place the chicken, skin side up, in the pan and pour the accumulated juices onto the plate. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until chicken is cooked through, 25 to 35 minutes.
6. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Remove the rosemary sprigs from the jar. If the sauce seems runny, turn the heat to medium-high and simmer until it thickens slightly, 2 to 5 minutes. Incorporate the rest of the grated garlic, the fresh cream, the chives and the lemon zest. Taste the sauce and add more salt if needed. Pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with parsley, lemon zest and a dollop of crème fraîche, if desired, and serve.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.