Cooking French food also freaks me out a bit. How many times have you heard famous chefs brag that they are "classically french trained." Like...ok I bet that is pretty hard if you're so proud of it. Congrats, you scared me out of ever trying to prepare anything french. Julia Child, you're out. Julie, whoever you are, who cooked from Julia Child's cookbook--you're crazy, and also out.
This recipe though...this recipe made me feel comfortable. Partially because I took french for six years (although, to clarify, I took french 1 & 2 three times each. And I'm still not great at simple phrases. So, guess how good I am learning new languages...) and know that "vin" means "wine". And "wine" means "happy Andie." You didn't know that? Oh. Well. That's a rough translation I guess.
Well anyway, the ingredients in this were the same as any Italian beef recipe I've ever made, including pot roast, braciola and straccata. So I dove right in. This is definitely a Sunday night meal, similar to the three slow-cooked meat dishes I just mentioned, but it is a "Sunday night with the family running around the house so I can't stand over the stove for too long because I might miss something" kind of meal. You know, the best kind.
3 strips of bacon or pancetta, chopped small
Mix of chicken breasts and thighs (dependent on your preference; I used a combination)
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp bourbon (or whiskey if you don't have it, just make sure you cook it completely off!)
3 cups red wine
2 cups chicken stock
4 bay leaves
8 sprigs of thyme
3 tbsp tomato paste
4 tbsp flour
one packet of baby bella or button mushrooms, trimmed and halved
about 12 cipollini or pearl onions, peeled
1. In a large pan, fry the bacon/pancetta over medium heat until the fat has rendered out. Do not fry until crisp. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon, so the fat remains in the pan.
2. Generously salt and pepper the chicken and place in a hot pan (if you bought with skin on, make sure the skin side is down). Cook on one side for five minutes or until golden brown, the flip over and allow to brown. Transfer to the bowl with the bacon/pancetta.
3. Add the onion, celery and garlic; saute until soft. Make sure to scrap the pan so that the fat doesn't burn.
4. Pour the cognac or liquor into the pan to deglaze. Allow to evaporate. Once most does, add the red wine, chicken stock, bay leaf, thyme and tomato piece. Return the bacon/pancetta and chicken to the pan. Make sure the meat is submerged in the liquid. Cover with a lid that is slightly askew to ensure steam can escape; simmer over medium low until chicken is tender, about 45 minutes.
5. Add flour to the pan to thicken the sauce up. Remove the chicken once tender; transfer to plate and tent with tinfoil. Add the mushrooms and onions to the pan and increase heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes until the onions are cooked. Pour the sauce and veggies over the chicken. Garnish with parsley.
I recommend serving with mashed potatoes, noodles or a crusty baguette to sop up the sauce. Yum!