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!


chefaim said...

Unbelieveable. I made this dish last night. One of my favorite recipes is Silver Palette's Chicken Mirabella. This recipe seemed along the same lines so I thought I would go for it. I, like you used E&J. I could not find Armangnac, though I am a bit curious if it would have made a difference. The dish was easy to make and shop for for that matter. My foodie group enjoyed it but we all felt as if something was herb perhaps...any ideas? FYI..I also made the Sauteed Brussell Sprouts with Pastachio nuts. It was excellent. The leafy consistency was fabulous. The only thing I would suggest is to 1/2 the pastachio portion and crushed the nuts. Know nothing about Ron sorry...

Anonymous said...

That's a mighty fine brown you got on that thar chicken.

Anonymous said...

I can say if I used a half of cup of Armangnac in the restaurants where I cooked, I would have been cained in the back alley. We ALWAYS used E & J, once it's been hit with the flavors of herbs, shallots, and such, no one could ever tell.