Sunday, January 31, 2016

Ho Hum, Another Boring French Farm Wife Braise - Not!

In some ways, I wonder if it might have been more fun to learn Thai or Spanish formal cooking than what I learned at Le Cordon Bleu. One of my classmates there, Nuriam, was Thai, and what she prepared at school was beautiful, but a bit bland. However, when she prepared her own food and shared, it was far from bland.

However, I was in London, and French was as avant-garde as I could manage. The plus side is that because of Julia Childs' example, all cooking shows and cook books are formatted for French style.

This recipe hails from Provencal, an area of southern France known for perfumed herbs and wines, and well outside of the Parisian butter based cooking. Olive oil is the normal cooking fat and olives and citrus are common ingredients. After the 17th century, tomatoes took hold as well.

This recipe is very Mediterranean and blurs the lines between Spanish, French and Italian. Serve it over polenta for gluten free. Serve it over spaghetti squash for carbohydrate free, and serve it over noodles or rice for other options. Literally, you cannot go wrong with this.


Chicken Provencal

(Editors Note: This recipe draws heavily upon the September 2003 Cooks Illustrated recipe. If a person were to pick only one cooking magazine to purchase, Cooks Illustrated or Cooks Country would be my first two suggestions.)


4 to 8 bone in chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and salted and peppered well
1 small onion diced small
1/4 cup thin leek rings
6 to 8 garlic cloves, minced fine
1 anchovy fillet, minced
1 can, 14.5 ounce, drained diced tomatoes
2.5 Tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup sliced Nicoise or Kalamata olives
zest of 1 orange
1 Tablespoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon Penzys Sunny Paris
1 bay leaf
1 inch square of parmesan rind
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 large splash Sriracha
minced parsley


Adjust oven rack to middle and preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven to the shimmering stage. Place the seasoned chicken thighs, skin side down, in the hot oil. For 5 minutes, do not move the chicken and allow a brown crust to develop. Turn them over and brown the underside. Remove the chicken to a bowl. Pour off the fat and reduce the heat to low.

Saute the onion and leeks in the dutch ovens, stirring to avoid browning. When the onions are translucent, add the tomato paste and the herbs and stir well to mix. Cook another minute, then add the garlic. cook until fragrant. Add the cup of wine, the cup of chicken stock, and the splash of Sriracha. Cook 1 minute and then remove the skins from the thighs and add them plus their juices to the mixture in the dutch oven. Stir well and spoon a bit of the liquid on the thighs. Bring the dutch oven contents to the boil and cover. Place the dutch oven in the oven and bake for 75 minutes.

Remove the dutch oven from the oven and take the thighs to a separate bowl and cover with foil. Place the pan over low heat and add the zest. Cook 5 minutes, stir, and add the olives. Heat until warm and serve over the chicken and your choice of base.

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