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"Let the stoics say what they please, we do not eat for the good of living, but because the meat is savory and the appetite is keen."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher.

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After researching many different recipes for this classic chicken dish, including Julia Child's version, I came up with this one. For the most part, all of the recipes were about the same; I changed the order of some of the steps since it made more sense to me. This is a lot of work, but it really does produce a genuinely rich, savory dish. I served it with parmesan smashed potatoes.

Preparation Time: 1 1/2 hours prep; 6 to 8 hours sit time (optional); 2 to 2 1/2 hours cooking time    Serving Size: 4 to 6

  • 30 fresh pearl onions, peeled (see below)
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 2 celery stalks, quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 chicken, cut up, with breasts chopped into two pieces each
  • OR 3 leg quarters, split into thighs and drumsticks
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 7 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Courvoisier Cognac
  • 1 bottle good Pinot Noir (750 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon each, unsalted butter and all-purpose flour

Cut off the root end of the pearl onions. Bring 2 to 3 cups water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add pearl onions and cook for 1 minute. Remove onions to ice water to shock for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and squeeze onions out of their skin; set aside. Have all other aromatics prepared and set aside.

Sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper to taste. Place flour into a large re-sealable plastic bag along with more salt and pepper to taste. Add chicken pieces and shake to cover all pieces well with flour. Remove to a cooling-type rack and set aside. Meanwhile, fry bacon pieces over medium heat in a large sauté pan until crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined bowl and set aside. Add pearl onions to the bacon grease, lightly salt and sauté gently for 5 to 7 minutes until starting to brown. Remove to the bowl with the bacon. Add mushroom quarters to the same pan and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes, or until they just start to loose their moisture and brown slightly. (Add a tablespoon of unsalted butter if necessary.) Remove to the bowl with the bacon and onions. Cover and refrigerate. Now add chicken pieces skin side down, to the sauté pan and brown on both sides, about 7 minutes each side. Remove the pan from the heat and add the Courvoisier. Use a long match or candle lighter to ignite the Courvoisier fumes. Return to the heat and carefully flambé the chicken, shaking the pan slightly, until the flame dies completely, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove the chicken to the cooling-type rack. Deglaze the pan with about 1 cup of the Pinot Noir and pour the entire mixture into a large Dutch oven. Set pan aside. Add the tomato paste, chicken stock and the remaining wine into the mixture in the Dutch oven and stir well to mix. Now add the thyme and bay leaves. Arrange the quartered yellow onion, carrots and celery stalks to the Dutch oven to create a bead for the browned chicken. Lay the chicken pieces on the bed of aromatics. It is not necessary to completely submerge the chicken; they should be partially in the liquid though. Cover the Dutch oven and set in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours. Although this step is not absolutely necessary, it does tend to add yet another level of flavor to this dish.

About an hour before continuing, remove the Dutch oven from the refrigerator to come to room temperature and heat oven to 325°. Place the room-temperature covered Dutch oven in the oven and bake 2 to 2 1/2 hours until chicken is tender. Remove the Dutch oven and use tongs to carefully remove the chicken to a heat proof plate. Keep chicken warm. Remove the bowl of onions, bacon and mushrooms from the refrigerator and set aside. Carefully pour the remaining juices and cooked aromatics in the Dutch oven through a strainer into a bowl. Discard the aromatics and transfer the strained juice back to the Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer vigorously until reduced by a third, anywhere between 25 and 40 minutes. Use your fingers to combine the 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour into a paste in a small bowl, a Beurre manié. Slowly whisk the Beurre manié into the sauce and allow to cook and thicken about 5 minutes. Add the bacon, pearl onions and mushrooms. Now add back the warm chicken and serve.

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