Thursday, February 19, 2009
CHICKEN IN VINEGAR
I still remember when I bought the first volume of what would become a rather extensive cookbook collection. I was visiting the Coop in Harvard Square, a favorite side trip on a visit to my favorite city, Boston. It was 1982 and the book in question was Jacques Pepin's Everday Cooking with Jacques Pepin. These were pre-Food TV days, but Jacques Pepin had a cooking show and I watched it whenever I was able. For a budding culinista, preparing French-inspired food was a first step in expanding my repertoire of kitchen skills. I still have that volume, though I haven't made my favorite recipe from it--chicken liver mousse--in many years.
A few years ago I came across a recipe in the Sunday magazine section of the newspaper that was adapted from one of Jacques Pepin's classics--chicken in vinegar. It's surprisingly easy to make and the dish is always well-received. I've cut back on some of the fat and increased the herbs to make the dish healthier. I've served the chicken with everything from garlic mashed potatoes to egg noodles to plain white rice. Leftovers are delicious either reheated or eaten at room temperature.
While this is something I make for a weeknight dinner, it is elegant enough to serve for company.
1 frying chicken, 4-4 1/2 lbs, cut into 8 pieces
1 tsp Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
4 tbs butter, divided
1/2 cup red wine vinegar, divided
1/4 cup water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs each chopped fresh parsley and tarragon
Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Melt 2 tbs of the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down, and cook, turning often, until golden brown (10-15 minutes).
Add 1/4 cup of the vinegar and the water to the skillet and cover. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Turn pieces over halfway through cooking. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Add the garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of vinegar. Increase the heat to medium high and heat to a boil, scraping up any browned bits in the skillet. Add the tomato paste, incorporating well; correct for seasoning.
Remove the skillet from the heat and whisk in the remaining 2 tbs butter, a teaspoon at a time. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with the parsley and tarragon.
From start to finish, this fragrant chicken entree takes about 35 minutes. Promise!