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Simple chicken sauté
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Simple chicken sauté

I'm back from a week in the Friuli region of Northeastern Italy, where I enjoyed dinners and wines at some of the region's top eateries and ate way too much of the delicious Middle European fare in this region where the Adriatic meets the Alps and where streams of Italian, Yugoslavian and Austrian culture flow together in a tasty melting pot.

Once I gather my thoughts, notes and photos and try re-creating some of the dishes, I'll have more to tell you about that trip. For today, though, as we resume publication of the Wine Advisor FoodLetter after a week off, I would like to share a simple, wine-friendly chicken dish that I fashioned on one of my first evenings back at home.

Evolved from a recipe in Pierre Franey's old 60 Minute Gourmet cookbooks, the series that, back in the '80s, first opened my eyes to the joyous reality that you can make a full dinner in less than an hour, this one has become a part of my regular repertoire because it's quick, easy and good. It's a simple sauté of chicken pieces finished with a little fresh rosemary, wine and butter.

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

4 chicken thighs (see note below)
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup minced white onion
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth


1. Begin with enough bone-in chicken pieces to serve two. We like thighs, which offer a good ration of flavorful meat per portion, but feel free to substitute legs, wings, breasts or a combination. Trim off excess fat if you wish, and remove skin if you're watching calories from fat (although it's worth leaving it on if your diet permits, as it does make a delectable crunchy bit). Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan or skillet, reserving the rest. (This may seem like a lot of butter, but you'll discard excess fat in a later step. Just about any pan will work, but a non-stick sauté pan big enough to hold all the pieces in one layer makes it easy.) When the butter is melted and stops bubbling, but before it starts to brown, put in the chicken pieces, skin-side down. Reduce heat to medium and let them cook without turning, for 15 minutes.

3. While the chicken pieces are cooking, chop the rosemary fine (use fresh if possible, but if unavailable, reduce the quantity of dried rosemary to taste, as it can be quite pungent). Mince the onion.

4. When the chicken is cooked on the first side, put the chopped rosemary in the pan, turn the chicken pieces, and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, turning now and then, until the chicken is nicely browned all over.

5. Take out the chicken and put it on a plate in a warm place. Pour off and discard just about all the fat in the pan. Return the pan to medium heat and, using the small amount of fat remaining, cook the minced onion until it starts to brown. Put in the wine, increase heat, and "deglaze" by stirring the wine until it's reduced to a scant syrup. Put in the chicken broth and heat and stir briefly until it reduces a bit. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to enrich this pan sauce, and serve it over the chicken pieces.

I served this light dinner with white rice and a simple salad.

WINE MATCH: Too delicate for most reds, this dish calls for a subtle white, and the first-rate Loire white reported the other day, Foreau 2000 Vouvray Sec ($14.99), was a perfect choice.

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Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives

There was no FoodLetter last week because of my travels. The last previous edition featured:

Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Alder-smoked salmon pasta (Feb. 27)

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Thursday, March 13, 2003
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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