At this time of year, soups are the ubiquitous comfort foods that so often find their way onto the table. Thick, steaming, hearty. What’s more soothing, soul-warming or gratifying than soup? I’ll tell you. Braises.
In this case braised chicken. It’s not just broth with a few bits of protein. It’s all about the protein. Whole, meaty chicken thighs – skin crisped to golden brown nestled into a rich sauce.
Oooh, the sauce – it’s like a gravy! And the vegetables aren’t chopped into a fine dice to get lost in that jus. No. They’re large, identifiable chunks!
One of my all-time favorite braises is coq au vin. Chicken in wine. The humble chicken, earthy vegetables and a drinkable red wine. “Drinkable” because I braise the chicken in the same wine I’m going to drink with the meal.
For even more added richness and umami POW, I’ve added a few tablespoons of dried porcini powder. What’s dried porcini powder, you ask? It’s dried porcini mushrooms that have been sitting in my pantry for too long to re-achieve their natural meaty texture after soaking.
Rather than toss them, I ran them through a spice grinder to make a fine dust. (I can’t take credit for this method as I read about it in a newspaper article – but I thought this genius idea would make my favorite braise, even better.)
And it did. It sooooo did. The sauce was deeper, richer and was more fully developed. Combined with the usual suspects – carrots, pearl onions, and baby bella mushrooms – audible sigh – cue the harps.
Make a little beurre manier (a paste of flour and butter) and whisk it in at the end of cooking to thicken the sauce ever so slightly.
And then finish it with crumbled bacon. I know, I know!!! I can’t tell you how happy this makes me! Seriously. Giddy! Scott appreciated this effort too – along with some crusty french bread and a glass of Beaujolais.
A slow oven-braise is what makes these chicken thighs so tender! The wine and mushroom infused sauce are heavenly over a bed of egg noodles or mashed potatoes
- 1 bottle drinkable red wine - burgundy beaujolais, cabernet would work well
- 3 slices bacon chopped
- 4 chicken thighs excess skin and fat trimmed
- 2 carrots peeled and diced
- 1 stalk celery diced
- 1/2 yellow onion diced
- 1/3 cup dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 cup button mushrooms quartered or large chunks
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 stems rosemary
- 1 cup frozen pearl onions
- 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper divided
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- oven proof dutch oven or heavy pot with a tight fitting lid
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Pour the wine into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a moderate bubble. Cook until wine is reduced to 1 1/2 cups -- about 15 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, set a dutch oven or heavy pot over a medium to medium high heat. When pot is hot, add bacon and cook until browned and crisp. With a slotted spoon transfer bacon to a dish lined with paper towels to absorb excess grease.
Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add chicken, skin side down to the hot dutch oven. Cook 4-5 minutes until browned. Using tongs, turn chicken and brown the other side for an additional 3-4 minutes. Transfer chicken to a tray. Reserve two tablespoons of grease and discard the rest.
Add celery, carrot and chopped onion to the pot. Cook 3-4 minutes until slightly softened. Transfer vegetables to a small bowl. Add the white mushrooms and cook until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
Tie thyme and rosemary with a piece of kitchen string. Set aside.
Add dried porcini mushrooms to a clean coffee grinder or spice grinder. Pulse until a fine powder is formed. Set aside.
Add vegetables back to the pot. Add tomato paste and stir until well combined. Add wine reduction and herbs to the vegetables. Add the chicken broth and 2 tablespoons of the mushroom powder. Stir to combine. Add pearl onions and remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Add chicken back to the pot and nestle the thighs (skin side up) into the braising liquid. Put the lid tightly on the pot and place in the oven. Cook for two hours.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl add the butter and flour. Using the back of a fork, mash them together to form a paste -- (this is called a beurre marnier).
Remove pot from the oven and place on the stove. Remove the chicken pieces and transfer them to a plate. Remove the herb bundle and discard. Skim any excess grease off the top of the braising liquid.
Add the beurre marnier to the dutch oven over medium high heat and cook, stirring frequently until mixture thickens and creates a gravy like consistency -- about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the chicken back to the pot.
Serve with buttered noodles, mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower for a lower carbohydrate option.
You don't have to add the beurre marnier to the braising liquid if you like a thinner sauce or are maintaining a gluten free diet.