This is essentially a recipe from April Bloomfield, she of The Spotted Pig, that showed up in my mailbox yesterday morning in the daily email from Food & Wine, a magazine I don't subscribe to but whose daily emails I didn't sign up for--they just showed up--but which I've become inordinantly fond of. As to chicken and vinegar, I've made various versions over the years but until last night never had that feeling of wow, instant classic, will be making it exactly this way over and over for years to come. Maybe the recipes were at fault or I just wasn't feelin' it that day, but hey; this one was IT and so good I have to share.
Of course, I made some changes. April used a whole chicken and had this complicated little routine of moving various pieces in and out of the pan and in and out of the oven to account for the different cooking times of variously sized white and dark meats. I said Fie on that and just used six chicken thighs on the stovetop, half to eat last night and half to debone and turn into a lunch pasta in the days to come. She added butter, I didn't, and used creme fraiche where I used sour cream. Otherwise, we're good.
The dish couldn't be simpler or quicker for those of you who need something speedy yet indulgently elegant on weeknights. In the time it takes the chicken to cook (overall, about 30 minutes) you can prep a quick vegetable or starchy side (we had broccolini) and make a fresh and healthy salad (we had radishes, belgian endive, watercress, green onion, walnuts and a bit of gorgonzola dressed with walnut oil and the same red wine vinegar that went into the chicken dish). The meal was terrific paired with a nice Bordeaux.
Here's my version:
6 chicken thighs
1 cup good red wine vinegar*
12 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
2 c chicken broth
2 heaping tablespoons of sour cream
Trim the thighs of excess side skin and fat, salt and pepper both sides, and place in a hot skillet just big enough for all the pieces skin side down with some olive oil. Brown the skin, about 7-8 minutes, then turn right side up and add the vinegar, garlic, and bay leaf. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 additonal minutes to cook the meat through, or less if the thighs are smaller. When the chicken's done, remove it and the garlic to a plate and add the chicken broth to the pan. Turn the heat back up and reduce until thicker and more concentrated, or about one to one and a half cups, whisk in the sour cream, then add the chicken back to coat and warm through. Divine!
*A good fruity red wine vinegar is essential. I make my own and am currently using a vinegar made in 2011, which is fruity and yet from age completely devoid of any of the harsh elements that sometimes come across in commercial vinegars. So taste what you have, and if it's harsh consider cutting it with some of the wine you're going to enjoy with dinner, be it red or white.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov