braised chicken with chanterelles, bacon, and pearl onions
Nothing on the ingredient list of this recipe from smittenkitchen.com seems anything but delicious. That’s why I was surprised when I read the narrative for it–the reaction seemed so ho-hum! I bought the pearl onions to make this dish at least two times over the last few months and then chickened out before making it because I didn’t want to go to so much trouble (the recipe, originally from Martha Stewart, is pretty darn fussy) just for something that might or might not turn out tasty.
But then the chanterelles were on sale, and I got these pretty tricolor pearl onions from trader joe’s, and we had the chicken, and it was all on the edge of getting old in the fridge, and it just seemed like I had to finally suck it up and do it. So I jumped in, but since the dish didn’t seem to get rave reviews the first time around, I figured it didn’t warrant much loyalty to the original recipe, and as much as I appreciate dutch ovening whole breasts and then wrapping them in bacon, I was interested in trying out a more one-pan approach. So I tweaked a little bit, and you know what? It turned out pretty damn good. I mean, what about chicken, bacon, mushrooms, mustard, onions and 2 kinds of wine doesn’t sound good?
I’ve tried to de-fussy the original recipe a little bit, and I’ve also scaled it back a bit so it served just two, although I thought it would’ve been good served over some egg noodles or rice, in which case you could easily stretch it to serve 4. Another upside is you could simply add more chicken to make it serve more people without really having to adjust the other quantities–the liquid, mushrooms and onions could accomodate more meat without any trouble.
Except for the bacon, which you could omit, this recipe was relatively healthy. Also relatively easy, although I strongly recommend that you get your mise-en-place (slicing, peeling, halving, smashing) all squared away before you start cooking, otherwise you’re liable to ignore something going on in the pan because you’re frantically trying to peel pearl onions. It is almost everyday-friendly, but in the end I classified it with the weekend recipes because of the bacon (honestly, who really wants to omit it?) and the slightly fussy aspects that still remain–I mean, who among us keeps both riesling and madeira around for cooking? This is kind of a “special trip to the store” recipe. Also, peeling pearl onions is about one of the fussiest tasks there is. But provided you have the time (really only an hour), the end result is totally worth it.
Braised Chicken with Chanterelles, Bacon, and Pearl Onions
Adapted from smitten kitchen‘s Chicken with Chanterelles and Pearl Onions
2 T vegetable oil
half an onion, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
small handful fresh thyme sprigs
1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks (about 1 pound of meat to serve 2)
1 cup Riesling
1 cup chicken broth
1 T grainy mustard
3 T butter
1/2 lb chanterelles, cleaned under running water and chopped into large pieces
8 oz pearl onions, peeled and halved
4 T Madeira
3 slices bacon, chopped
salt and pepper
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion slices, garlic, rosemary, and thyme to pan and cook for 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Sprinkle chunks of chicken with salt and pepper, then nestle into pan with onions and herbs and sear until golden brown on each side. When golden, add the Riesling and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove chicken to a small bowl, then strain pan juices into another small bowl and reserve. When chicken has cooled a bit, add the tablespoon of mustard to it and toss to coat. When the pan juices cool, skim the fat off the top.
Wipe out skillet and return to heat. Melt the butter over medium high heat, then add the pearl onions and season with salt and pepper. Shake the pan, cooking onions until softened and golden, about 5 minutes. Add chanterelles and cook until the released mushroom juices have evaporated. Then add 2 T Madeira and let it evaporate–this should only take about a minute. Remove mushroom and onion mix to a bowl.
Wipe out the skillet again. Add chopped bacon and cook until golden brown. If it renders a lot of fat, drain some of this off when the bacon is done, leaving just enough to lightly coat the pan. Add the mustardy-chicken chunks back in and stir to combine. Then add the mushroom and onion mix back in, stirring again. Finally, and another 2 T Madeira, as well as 2/3 cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Continue cooking another few minutes until everything is heated through and liquid is reducing a bit. Serve immediately as is, or over rice or noodles.