Sound pretty ordinary, doesn’t it? There’s nothing ordinary about this dish. It’s simplicity itself, with huge flavor. It’s a great dinner party dish, because it’s even better made ahead. I found the original recipe for this delicious preparation in a flyer at a little corner grocery store. I apologize for not remembering the name of the grocery store, though it probably no longer exists…this was a long time ago, when we were newly married, BC (before children) and living in downtown Montréal. The Lover walked to work and The Goddess walked and explored; she explored markets and neighborhoods, museums and shops! It was a great time for both of us. If you haven’t been to Montréal, GO…it’s a wonderful place and the food is superb. The Middle Child did his semester “abroad” in Montréal and he waxes on about the virtues of poutine; he gets positively misty-eyed. Poutine is good stuff, but that’s another blog entry. Today, we’re doing this simple, tasty dish.
The thing about this dish to note, is the technique, a poulet sauté. A sauté is different from pan-frying. You dredge a cut-up chicken (or thighs) in flour before sautéing in a good heavy, deep skillet with both butter and olive oil, using very little liquid, if any. The secret is that as the chicken cooks, it simmers in its own juices, which dance and mingle with the fat, creating a very concentrated, rich sauce. I’m telling you that this is company fare, served up with good bread to mop the sauce…utterly delicious!
Chicken with Vinegar (Poulet au Vinaigre)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups thinly sliced onion (I prefer to use red onions)
- 2 tablespoons chopped shallots (I use 1 tablespoon dried)
- 3 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
- 3-4 lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces (I prefer 8 bone-in, skin-on thighs)
- 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter
- 1 (14 ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
- 3-4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon (1 slightly rounded teaspoon dried tarragon)
- 1 cup good, strong beef broth
- Kosher salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper; dredge the pieces in flour, shaking off the excess flour and set aside. Heat a deep, heavy 12-inch skillet over medium heat; add the butter. Add the onion and shallots; lower the heat, cover and sauté the onions until they become limp and slightly browned, about 15-20 minutes. Stir once or twice during the process. Remove the onions to a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the vinegar to the pan, scraping up the bits of onion. Pour the vinegar over the onions and set aside.
Return the skillet to the stove over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and butter. Add the chicken pieces (don’t crowd them), skin-side down and cook, turning once, until the skin is nicely browned, about 5-6 minutes (the chicken will not be cooked through). Transfer the chicken pieces to a pan/platter and repeat with the remaining pieces. Watch the temperature, so neither the chicken or the flour burns.
When all the chicken is browned, pour off all of the fat. Return the skillet to medium-high heat, add the tomatoes and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge the drippings. Add the remaining vinegar, the sautéed onions, garlic and half the tarragon. Return the chicken pieces, skin side up, to the skillet, arranging them in a single snug layer. Partially cover, to allow the steam to escape. Lower the heat to maintain a low simmer; simmer gently, turning every 6-8 minutes, until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 25-30 minutes total.
Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Increase the heat slightly, add the broth and boil until the mixture reduces by about 1/3. The sauce will thicken slightly. Taste for salt and pepper. Add the remaining tarragon and spoon over the chicken. This is lovely served with very small sautéed potatoes and green beans.
NOTE: This dish is even better made a day or two ahead. Do not add the last amount of tarragon. Reheat gently in a covered baking dish in a 325°F oven for about 20-30 minutes. You may need to add a few tablespoons of wine, water or chicken broth if the chicken appears dry. Sprinkle with the tarragon and serve.
Chicken with Vinegar Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
One of the things I didn’t mention in the recipe is that because I use soup base, instead of canned broth, I can use any liquid to reconstitute it in. For this recipe, sometimes I use part white (or red) wine, part water. And that’s not a typo…it is beef broth. It helps give this dish its heartiness. By the way, I’ve seen recipes that use heavy cream, about 1/2 cup, instead of the broth. I tried that and I prefer the broth. I know this is a trauma for you. Come on now, pick yourself up off the floor; breathe slowly…when did you ever think you would hear The Goddess suggest that heavy cream was not the best option? Well, you’ve heard it now!
I also prefer to use bone-in, skin-on thighs. If you must, remove the bone, but please leave the skin on. It just does so much for the flavor. In all honesty, sometimes I use skinless, boneless thighs, as I did here. However, I wrap each thigh (these were stuffed with a spinach-mushroom mixture) in a piece of bacon, tuck the ends of the bacon under each other (see the picture on the left) and work the recipe as stated. It’s a different dish, more rustic and the bacon adds some smoke, but it is still thoroughly delicious. I think The Number One Son and The Music Man (son number 3) both prefer the bacon version, because, well…it’s bacon!
This is a great technique to know. It works supremely well with chicken, but also with pork, lamb and beef. There is enough flour that comes off of the meat to slightly thicken the sauce. And by cooking the meat, with the lid ajar, the meat doesn’t steam, but rather simmers in its own juices. It’s more of a braise than a sauté really. Anyway, this is a terrific dish.