When I mentioned this dish in passing in a recent report on the modest Spanish red wine that it accompanied, I figured it was too simple a concoction to justify reporting it in full. After all, my one-line description of the dish pretty much said it all: "A quick Franco-Italian creation, chicken sauteed in an aromatic mix of caramelized onions, garlic, bay leaf and thyme over short pasta."
What makes it succeed? Upon analysis, I think the flavors all meld nicely, and the process - sauteeing chicken pieces in a tasty combination of butter and olive oil, then braising them with aromatic onions and a robust combination of herbs but relatively little liquid - infuses the chicken meat with flavors that add depth and complexity and concentration to the dish.
It's not identifiably ethnic, but emerges as a kind of France-meets-Italy main course with enough intensity to stand up to a bold and high-alcohol red. And better still, for busy cooks, it doesn't require much preparation and shouldn't take more than 45 minutes from the pantry to the table.
INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)
1 tablespoon (15ml) olive oil
1. Melt the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat in a skillet or nonstick saute pan large enough to hold all the chicken in a single layer. It's not absolutely necessary to use both, but I like the combination in this dish, for flavor and because the oil seems to help discourage the butter from scorching during the sautee.
2. When the butter and oil sizzle, put in the chicken pieces, skin-side down. I generally use all thighs, because I like the deep flavor of dark meat, but feel free to use your choice of pieces or a mix. Sautee them, turning occasionally, for five minutes or so, until they're nicely browned on both sides.
3. While the chicken is browning, peel the onion and chop it coarsely. Take the browned chicken out to a warm plate, set it aside briefly, and sautee the chopped onion in the same pan, drizzling in a little more olive oil only if necessary. When it's soft and turning sweet and brown, return the chicken pieces and any accumulated juices to the pan. Deglaze with the white wine, then add the thyme, bay leaf and the peeled, smashed garlic cloves. Stir over high heat until the wine boils and reduces slightly, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, turning the chicken pieces occasionally and adding a little more wine or water in the unlikely event that it starts to look too dry.
4. If you're planning to serve the dish over pasta or rice, you might add a little of the optional chicken broth during the last few moments of cooking, to help turn the caramelized onions and aromatic herbs into a natural sauce. If you're serving it on a dinner plate with potatoes or bread, you may prefer to skip this step. In any case, use only enough to yield a fairly thick sauce. You don't want to dilute the flavors or turn the dish into soup.
DISCUSS COOKING IN OUR ONLINE FORUMS:
Today's column is also cross-posted in the Food & Drink section in our Netscape/CompuServe WineLovers Community,
If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at email@example.com.
PRINT OUT A COPY OF THIS ARTICLE:
Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives
Last week's Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Encyclopedia or cookbook? (Oct. 5, 2006)
Wine Advisor FoodLetter archive:
30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Let us hear from you!
If you have suggestions or comments about The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter, or if you would like to suggest a topic for a coming edition and recipe, please drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. I really enjoy hearing from you, and I try to give a personal reply to all mail if I possibly can. And of course you're always welcome to join the conversations with fellow foodies on our online FoodLovers Discussion Group,
This is The 30 Second Wine Advisor's weekly FoodLetter. To subscribe or unsubscribe, change your E-mail address, or for any other administrative matters, please use the individualized hotlink found at the end of your E-mail edition. If this is not practical, contact me by E-mail at email@example.com, including the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so I can find your record.
Thursday, Oct. 12, 2006
Subscribe to the 30 Second Wine Advisor