IS THERE ANYTHING MORE VERSATILE THAN CHICKEN?
You could make a different chicken recipe every day for a year and not even make a dent in the possible ways to prepare le poulet. Whether it's for a quick mid-week dinner or a slow-simmered Sunday night special, chicken is always available, always reasonably priced and always delicious. Just make sure you start with impeccably fresh chicken and carefully wash all surfaces touched by the raw meat once you've finished your preparation.
EASY COQ AU VIN
The classic recipe for Coq au Vin involves marinating the chicken overnight, but this one gives you a delicious result in far less time.
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
4 whole peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
7 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, stems and leaves separated Chicken thighs and small drumsticks, totaling 12 pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
Â¾ lb mushrooms, halved
1 Tbsp butter Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp cognac
1 cup dry red wine
3Â¼ cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1Â½ tsp cornstarch
Make a bouquet garni: wrap two garlic cloves, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaf and parsley stems in a small piece of cheesecloth and tie with string.
In a large deep skillet or Dutch oven heat one tablespoon oil over medium high heat. Add onions, mushrooms and remaining garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, about four minutes. Transfer to a dish and set aside. Add butter and remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet.
Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook in two batches until browned on all sides. Return all chicken to the pan and add cognac and wine; using a wooden spoon, scrape any cooked-on bits from the bottom of the pan to incorporate into sauce.
Add chicken stock and stir in tomato paste. Add the bouquet garni. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in centre. Add the reserved mushroom mixture and cook five minutes more. Transfer chicken and vegetables to a bowl with a slotted spoon; discard bouquet garni. Over high heat reduce the broth by half (this takes 12-15 minutes). In a small bowl dissolve cornstarch in one tablespoon cold water; add to broth and stir until incorporated. Cook one minute or until slightly thickened. Return chicken and mushrooms to pot and heat gently until chicken is warmed through. Chop parsley leaves and stir in. Serve with rice or buttered noodles. Serves six.
BAKED ASIAN CHICKEN
Super quick and easy; serve with fluffy rice and sautÃ©ed snow peas.
4 whole chicken legs (about 2 lbs)
Â½ cup hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp ketchup
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
Remove skin and any excess fat from chicken. In a small bowl combine remaining ingredients. Place sauce and chicken in a Ziploc bag, shake bag gently to coat chicken, and refrigerate for one hour. Place chicken on a foil-lined and oiled baking sheet. Pour half of the sauce in the bag over chicken and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Pour remaining sauce over chicken and bake until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes more. Serves four.
CHICKEN SUPREME WITH MUSHROOMS
This is a rich, luxurious dish suited to a dinner party. Based on a recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves Â½ tsp lemon juice
Â¼ tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper
5 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp minced shallots 6 oz sliced fresh
Â¼ cup chicken stock
Â¼ cup dry white wine
1 cup whipping cream Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub the chicken breasts with drops of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a heavy ovenproof casserole or Dutch oven until it is foaming. Stir in the shallots and sautÃ© briefly, without browning. Stir in mushrooms and sautÃ© lightly for one to two minutes, without browning. Sprinkle with salt. Quickly roll the chicken in the butter mixture; cover with a piece of buttered waxed paper. Cover casserole and place in hot oven. After about 20 minutes press top of chicken with your finger; if still soft return to oven until meat is springy when touched. Remove chicken to a platter (leave mushrooms in pot) and cover while making the sauce.
Pour the stock and wine in the casserole with the cooking liquid and mushrooms. Boil down quickly over high heat until liquid is syrupy. Stir in the cream and boil down again over high heat until cream has thickened slightly.
Remove from heat and taste for seasoning. Add a couple of drops of lemon juice to taste. Return chicken to casserole and simmer briefly to warm through; serve chicken with sauce poured over top, sprinkled with parsley. Makes four servings.