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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Simply Delicious: A Creamy, Wine-Braised Chicken to Celebrate the Holidays

The apparently limitless amount of practical evening chicken dishes available now makes it easy to forget that chicken was previously regarded as a delicacy in many cultures.

In my copy of “The Escoffier Cookbook,” when browsing over the recipes, I was struck by the grandeur associated with the bird. Many other recipes included it: wrapped in puff pastry, dusted with powdered sugar, drowned in cream, wrapped in aged ham, packed with truffles, and basted with Madeira. There wasn’t a single sheet-pan supper to be found.

The first step is to locate some very flavorful chicken. If you can obtain it from a farmers’ market, it is even more advantageous. Aside from that, search for air-chilled chicken that is devoid of antibiotics and, ideally, organic at your local grocery. Although a large chicken will be more costly than a normal bird, it will still be less of a spend than purchasing many other traditional, meaty holiday alternatives.

Then there are the mushrooms in the recipe, which may be as elaborate or as simple as you want them to be. Even though creminis, shiitakes and white buttons will do just fine in this dish, speciality mushrooms such as king, hen-of-the-woods and chanterelles will give it an even more powerful taste if you want to go all out. Alternatively, use a mix of the following: A few of earthy black trumpets will go a long way in this recipe’s final product.

In addition to the wine, you’ll need some for the sauce. According to conventional culinary knowledge, you should add a splash from the bottle you intend to drink with dinner. However, I normally use wine that has been left over from supper the night before or the night before that. Wine left over after drinking it is absolutely safe to use in cooking if it is sealed and kept in the refrigerator, and for this versatile braise, you may use any (dry) kind. That includes white, red, and rosé wines, as well as sparkling and orange wines, if you happen to have them on hand.

This braises becomes better once it has been left overnight, just like other braises. It may be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days after it has been prepared until the point at which it will be mixed with the crème fraîche. Alternatively, cook it for 20 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees in an oven on a low heat setting on the stovetop. Then add the crème fraîche and toppings and mix well.

Make sure to serve it with crusty bread, polenta, rice, or a stack of buttered noodles, and serve more crème fraîche on the side for maximum richness — and delight.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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