Monday, October 25, 2010



No – I’m not trying to channel Herbert Hoover, though he did promise that and “a car in every garage” during his 1928 campaign before the roof caved in.

Well, the roof’s caved in again and the economy sucks.  We have to tighten our money belts… but we can have a chicken in every pot.  No matter how you cut it (in this case two whole chickens cut into 8 pieces), chicken can still be one of the least expensive ways to feed a family some protein, healthfully and deliciously… That’s why, in these recession times, I blog about chicken and all its incarnations more than anything else (well, except maybe cheeseburgers, but that’s another blog or two or three)…

And while you’re having a chicken in every pot – why not gourmet?  I’ve already blogged about chicken stew w/ winter veggies – why try not coq au vin?  Whether you’re counting your pennies or not – treat yourself like royalty w/ a royal recipe.  Well, a barefoot contessa’s anyway.

Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa’s
Back to Basics Cookbook
Serves 6

Good olive oil (or as good as the olive oil in your pantry)
8 ounces bacon or pancetta, diced
2 (3- to 4-pound) chickens, each cut into 8 serving pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1⁄4 cup Cognac or good brandy – (we didn’t have brandy so Richard used bourbon – scotch probably would work, too)

1 (750-ml) bottle good dry red wine such as Burgundy (if you’re on a budget like we are,’ two buck chuck’ shiraz worked great)

2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (Richard used low sodium packets from Trade Joe’s)
1 bunch fresh thyme sprigs (or for budget reasons, if you don’t have fresh – use dried)
4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen small whole onions
1 pound porcini or cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced (Richard used regular white mushrooms)
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. After the bacon is removed, add a few of the chicken pieces in a single layer and brown for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken pieces to the plate with the bacon and continue to add the chicken in batches until all the chicken is browned. Set aside.

Add the carrots, onions, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper to the pot and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back!, and carefully ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collect on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just no longer pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.

Mash 2 tablespoons of the butter and the flour together in a small bowl and stir the paste into the stew. 

Add the frozen onions. In a medium sauté pan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.

If you have a few bucks left over in your meal budget – buy a baquette and a perky, inexpensive bottle of pinot noir.  A feast for a king or a peasant.

1 comment:

Hal said...

I'm gonna revisit this classic. It's also a cheaper meal than many assume.