Tuesday, January 14, 2014

White Wine Braised Chicken with Olives and Preserved Lemons

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014....

Another lovely winter day with a brisk high of 84!!! Are you kidding me, Los Angeles?!?! It's like Jimmy Fallon said, the only two seasons we have in Los Angeles are Pilot and Awards.

Some of my favorite things about "Awards Season (aka Winter)" are comforting soups, slow cooked braises, and cozy comfort food. Nothing warms you up on an 80 degree day like beef stew. Ha. Right about now I am getting in bikini shape, thinking maybe we should fire up the grill for some burgers!

This weather is stupid. I love living in southern CA, and I LOVE that we never have to shovel snow (well, that Rich never has to) or bundle up in 14 layers (3-4 is nice though, JCrew agrees with me)...  But, we are getting close to mid July temperatures while the rest of the country is dealing with the "arctic vortex/frozen tundra/other thing Al Roker made up" nonsense.

So... what to do, what to do...

Make a braise... I just don't want to feel left out, ya know? The sun may be shining outside, but my house can be filled with the delicious aromas of roasting chicken and winter scented Yankee Candles. With just a few tweaks, you can make a perfect, lightened up version of this quintessential Awards Season dinner.

Here's the plan: Ditch the rich, heavy tasting red wine for white wine. Bonus: now you can drink that bottle of Brunello you were going to cook with. And since awards season will soon give way to "Bikini Season" (which is the season Rich gives me "awards" for...) leave out the bacon and veggies and add olives and preserved lemons and voila... you've got a lighter, bikini friendly, take on a classic coq au vin.

White Wine Braised Chicken with Olives and Preserved Lemons

2 sprigs thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves)
1 bay leaf
Small handful of parsley leaves, chopped, plus a few stems
6 skin-on chicken legs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
10 cloves of garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups white wine
2 cups chicken stock or broth
16 green, briny olives
2 small preserved lemons, cut into ⅛-inch thick rounds (**recipe below)

**Whole Foods usually has preserved lemons in the olive bar section, but if they let you down (like they did me yesterday...) you can use this recipe in a pinch.  Slice two lemons into 1/8 inch rounds. Place in a glass baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, cover with water, and bake at 250 degrees for three hours. 

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat a dutch oven (or large braising dish) and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, brown the chicken, skin-side down for about 4 minutes until brown and crispy. Turn and brown the other side. Set the chicken aside and add the garlic cloves to the pan and sauté until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the garlic to a bowl and set aside.

Make a roux. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the flour to the pan and whisk over low heat until golden brown, about 1 minute. Add the wine and bring it to a boil, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to pull up the brown bits. Continue to cook until the wine is reduced by 1/3. Add the stock, browned garlic cloves, bay leaf, olives and thyme sprigs to the pan. Tuck the chicken, skin-side up, into the sauce. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 45 minutes or so. You cannot rally over cook this dish... which is the best part of a braise!

Preheat the oven t o 425 degrees. Place the chicken legs on a large baking sheet along with the preserved lemon slices. Remove the garlic, olives, and herbs from the sauce and set them aside. Then, bring the sauce to a boil and reduce it until it is a nice consistency and coats the back of a spoon. Whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and season to taste with salt and fresh cracked pepper.

While the sauce is reducing (it took about 25 minutes for me), put the chicken and lemons in the oven to brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer the garlic, olives, and browned chicken back into the reduced sauce. Place the preserved lemon slices on the chicken and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

I served this over oven roasted potatoes and it was perfect.

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  1. Ok, yum. Making this Saturday night. I don't even have to go to the store as I make my own preserved lemons (check my blog) and I always have everything on the list. Incorporate some goat cheese and you are using just about all my favorite ingredients here. Question... how important do you think the Roux is? If I am making this for someone gluten-free and am trying to avoid flour, I wonder if it will still thicken properly.

  2. Yay! Let me know how it turns out :)
    As far as the roux, I think if you reduce the sauce/braising liquid and then add a Tbsp of butter it will be perfect! I had to reduce quite a bit even with the roux!