1. How to use salt during the cooking process and not as an afterthought.
2. That black pepper’s taste doesn’t go with everything as salt does. Think about substituting white pepper or red pepper flakes.
3. That brown(ed) food tastes good.
This recipe makes use of all of these tips. The result is something so rich, so tender, so perfectly-seasoned. I found myself grabbing a spoon just to take full advantage of the sauce that still lingered on my plate after devouring every bit.
To get started, I added 8 skin-on chicken thighs (seasoned with salt and black pepper) to a hot dutch oven, bottom coated with a pre-heated layer of olive oil, over medium-high heat. Anne gives a another great tip here… The thighs become easier to flip over after they’ve browned adequately–the pan “releases” them from the bottom. If you try to turn them too soon, you’ll find yourself struggling.
While the chicken was browning, I started on the green beans. I boiled “dead headed” beans in salted water for a few minutes and then immediately stopped the cooking process by submerging them in salted, ice water. Set these beans aside in the fridge until about 10 minutes before serving.
Once the chicken is well-browned on both sides, remove it from the pan. Set the thighs aside on a plate. Remove all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan, and add the chopped pancetta. (Note: in the photos here, I used prosciutto. Why? Because that’s what I had on hand. The prosciutto wasn’t the best substitute as it had too high of a meat to fat ratio–it didn’t achieve the right level of porkiness/smokiness in the dish I was hoping for or as Burrell intended. I recommend you cook with pancetta as listed in the recipe below.) Once the pancetta browns, add the sliced onions. Saute until transluscent.
Once browned, add the garlic–and after the garlic becomes golden, add the mushrooms. Burrell calls for a mixed bunch of mushrooms: shitakes, oysters, etc. I have to say that when used in this dish, I don’t think $15 worth of mushrooms here is necessary. They all cook down into this wonderfully rich gravy and lose a bit of their uniqueness. Therefore, I think you could completely subsitute in just all regular white button mushrooms. I would stay away from portobellos though, as they are a bit too meaty for this dish. Next, the vino and more cooking down. You want to cook it until about half of the wine is gone.
Don’t forget to salt each layer. With all of the moisture swirling around in the pot, salt is critical to keep the flavors to the top of the dish. Next, add the chicken back to the pan. Add chicken stock to the pot until it almost covers the chicken, then the thyme bundle and the bay leaves. Bring the whole pot to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer for about 30-35 minutes.
While that pot of heaven is simmering away, grind up the almonds. This is an incredible addition to the dish–something I never would have thought of. My head was spinning with the possibilities of adding nut butters to sauces/gravies galore. It adds this buttery and rich taste to the gravy–bringing it to another level all together.
Add the almond-butter to the sauce and keep simmering for another 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken and take on a golden color. Once to your desired thickness, heat a frying pan with the garlic and chili peppers in olive oil. Cook the green beans until heated through. Serve the braised chicken and gravy over the green beans. Top with sliced chives or scallions. I suggest having a nice slice of bread handy to absorb all of that wonderful gravy from your plate.
* Extra-virgin olive oil
* 8 chicken thighs
* Kosher salt
* 1/2 pound pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch dice
* 2 large onions, julienned
* Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
* 4 cloves garlic, smashed
* 2 pounds assorted mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster or cremini, cleaned and sliced
* 2 cups dry white wine
* 4 to 6 cups chicken stock
* 1 bundle thyme
* 4 bay leaves
* 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted
* Sauteed Haricots Verts, recipe follows
* Chopped chives, for garnish
Coat a large, wide, deep pan with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Pat the chicken skin dry with paper towels and season generously with salt. Add chicken skin side down to the pan. You should hear a big sizzle as the thighs hit the pan. Do not try to move the chicken, the skin will stick itself to the bottom of the pan and will unstick itself when it is ready. If the pan is smoking excessively turn the burner down and continue to cook. When the skin is brown and crispy, turn the chicken over and brown it on the other side. Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve.
Lower the heat if you have not already done so and ditch most of the excess fat. Add the pancetta and brown. When the pancetta has started to get brown and crispy add the onions. Season with salt and crushed red pepper and sweat over medium heat for 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and saute for 3 to 4 minutes or until they release their juices. Add the wine and reduce by half. Return the chicken to the pan. Add chicken stock to almost cover the chicken. Add the thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the chicken for 30 to 35 minutes. Add more chicken stock, if needed.
While the chicken is cooking puree the almonds in the food processor. Drizzle in a little olive oil while the machine is running to make this a loose paste. Season with salt and reserve.
Once the chicken has cooked for 30 to 35 minutes, remove it from the pan and reserve. Taste the sauce for seasoning and stir in the almond puree. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer to thicken the sauce, if needed. The almond puree will help to thicken the sauce and to make it very rich.
Serve the chicken over Sauteed Haricots Verts or your favorite green vegetable. Spoon the mushroom almond sauce over and garnish with chopped chives.
Sauteed Haricots Verts
* 1/2 pound haricots verts (baby string beans), stem ends removed
* Extra-virgin olive oil
* 2 garlic cloves, smashed
* Pinch crushed red pepper flakes and Kosher salt
Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Set up a bowl of well salted ice water for shocking.
Add the beans to the boiling water and cook until the beans are tender but still toothsome about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the boiling water and place immediately into the salted ice water. Once the beans are cool, remove them from the water and set aside until ready to use.
Coat a large saute pan with olive oil. Add the garlic and the crushed red pepper and bring to a medium-high heat. When the garlic has become golden and very aromatic, remove it and discard. It has fulfilled its garlic destiny. Add the beans to the pan and saute until they are hot and coated with oil. Season with salt and serve right away.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes