Sunday, January 6, 2008

Chicken! Prunes! Brandy!

Apparently, we now have a subscription to Bon Appetite magazine. Neither Cara nor I remember subscribing or anything, but it showed up in the mail box all the same. We did have some old airline miles that may be playing a role in this, but whatever.

I once looked through a Bon Appetite in a waiting room or some such, and I remember not knowing what any of the ingredients were- it was a all so darn fancy. Shallots? Demi-glace? Huh? Of course, that was a long time ago, before my freakish cooking obsession really hit hard. Now I'll have another source of inspiration to share with you- my primary source, by the way, is Cook's Illustrated, which is the best cookin' magazine around. No, really.

Anyhow- I know many people think prunes are something old people eat to stay regular. Some have begun to call them "dried plums" so people will know what they actually are- and you like plums, don't you? You could make this without them, but that would be a mistake.

First, open a bottle of brandy. For all my church friends reading this that means you'll have to go to a liquor store. Liquor stores are often closed on Sunday, by the way. I always realize this on Sundays when I need some liquor, but that's another post altogether.

There is probably a brand that would be the best for this recipe, but since I know very little about brandy, I just bought something in the mid range in price- the recipe in the magazine called for "Armagnac," which after doing some "research" (thanks, internet!) I have discovered that, yes, Armagnac is expensive, fancy-pants brandy that they probably wouldn't sell at Walgreen's Liquors here in town. As a matter of fact, I know they don't. They do sell about ten kinds of cheap brandy, though. I got E&J for no real reason. It worked fine.

I really more or less looked at the picture in the magazine and skimmed the recipe than copy it exactly, by the way. I did, as the recipe says, boil the prunes (I used about eight of 'em) in 1/3 cup of brandy until the liquid was absorbed.

I then broke out my sweet buffet casserole braiser and browned four chicken thighs skin side down (after I had salted and peppered them that is- kosher salt, please).
Before: After:
They're not all the way cooked yet or anything- the skin just needs some alone time to get lookin' that good. Next- I poured out a little bit of the accumulated fat (not much), and threw in the freshly peeled shallots:
The goal here is to get 'em all browned and delicious. Like this:
Next, you've gotta deglaze the pan with some more (1/3 cup) brandy- this means pour it in and get to scraping the fond (brown stuff stuck to pan) up to make the sauce rich and delicious. Like this:
Now you're in the home stretch. Just add the chicken back to the pan with a little thyme, and about a cup of chicken stock, and put the lid on as it simmers away for about half and hour.
After the chicken was cooked through I took it out, and added a dash of white wine vinegar (the recipe said sherry wine vinegar, but I didn't have any). I reduced the sauce for a few minutes and poured it over the chicken. in the mean time I cooked up some broccoli and taters. It looked like this at the end:
Here's the picture from the magazine and my version side by side:
So, to sum up you need:
chicken stock
salt and pepper

And the secret ingredient:


In other news, I just had my first ever political telephone poll. Go Ron Paul!