Like the Mexican Pie I made a few weeks ago, I prepared this chicken dish on Sunday not just for dinner that night, but also for the leftovers I could bring to work with me throughout this week.
What I thought would be a straightforward and tasty chicken dish turned into something pretty special. I don’t know how that happened, and can only theorize that when good ingredients get a little love, a lot of goodness will end up on your plate.
Before you get too excited, I have to admit right here: I was a really bad blogger and didn’t take ANY photos of this recipe. I planned on it being one of those times where it was just me and the food in the kitchen. And I honestly didn’t know I would like this concoction as much as I did.
What I loved about this recipe was how well it bridged the last bits of the San Francisco Indian summer with the first whispers of fall — or in the case of yesterday, the first torrential DOWNPOUR of fall (thank you, Japanese typhoon).
To start, affordable (and flavorful) chicken thighs and legs were browned, then simmered in a yum-tastic sauce made from fresh early girl tomatoes, red wine, herbs, peppers and olives. With the bone-in meat taking an hour long soak in the liquid, the dish gets a healthy dose of collagen (which gelatinzes later), so the sauce has a rich mouthfeel. It’s all very ProvenÃ§al — if you can’t tell that I totally have France on my mind these days, you need to get with it.
In that vein, I decided to name the recipe Poulet ProvenÃ§al. I recommend you make it ASAP. But don’t make the same mistake I did — be sure to have a loaf of country bread on hand to soak up this sauce. It’s pretty incredible. I had to make do with drinking the sauce out of the bowl. Such a fat kid.
- 4 organic chicken legs; thigh separated from drumstick
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 large or 1 medium yellow onion, julienned
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- 350 mL dry red wine (I used some leftover nero d’avola I had on hand, but you might feel more official using an actual wine from Southern France — mayhaps a nice Chateauneuf? That would be lovely here, I think. Any spicy, medium to medium-full bodied wine will do nicely.)
- 10-15 small early girl tomatoes (approximately golf ball sized), stems removed and quartered
- 3 small dried red chiles, or 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (may add more if you wish)
- 1 large red bell pepper, sliced thinly into ~1/4″ x 2-3″ pieces
- 1/2 small bunch of thyme
- 2 big sprigs of rosemary
- 3/4 cup pitted and drained kalamata olives
- — kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (FGBP)
- 1 sprig rosemary, leaves stripped and minced
- 3/4 c parsley (loosely packed), chopped
- zest of 1 lemon
Season the chicken liberally with salt and FGBP. In a large, deep skillet or saute pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium high heat until completely melted and hot. Using tongs, add the chicken to the skillet and cook until brown on the first side, about 4-5 minutes. Turn, and brown the second side, an additional 3-5 minutes. Remove the chicken to a clean plate or bowl, and set aside.
Carefully drain most of the fat from the skillet and return to the stove (you can drain it into a separate bowl, or right into your trash can). DO NOT scrape out any of the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Lower heat to medium. Add in the onion, garlic clove and celery. Season with salt, and saute until the vegetables are softened and the onion is beginning to brown. By now, there should be plenty of fond (or browned goodness) on the bottom of the pan.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scrapping up the goodies and stirring them into the liquid. Simmer for 2 minutes, so that the alcohol can burn off. Add in the quartered tomatoes, chilies and red peppers and season. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the peppers and tomatoes are just beginning to soften. Season the entire mixture again with salt and FGBP.
Place the chicken pieces on top of the mixture, burrowing them down into the sauce just a little. Be sure to pour in any accumulated juices from the chicken plate. Tie the rosemary and thyme together with a bit of butcher’s twine, and nestle the herbs into the skillet so that they are mostly submerged in the liquid. Sprinkle the kalamata olives amongst the skillet. Simmer for 20 minutes uncovered, 20 minutes covered, then an additional 10-15 uncovered, based on how the sauce is developing — if it’s looking a little thin, just cook it uncovered more, so that the additional water can evaporate out. If you’re using legs from an older bird, you may need to cook for a longer amount of time, too.
In a small bowl, mix together the minced rosemary, chopped parsley and lemon zest for the garnish. Serve the meat in very shallow bowls with spoonfuls of the sauce ladled around. Sprinkle a bit of the garnish on top, and serve with lots of crusty bread.