I first had this dish on a winter night in Paris. We were cold and tired and in need of dinner when we happened on the decidedly upscale take-out joint, Fauchon on Place de la Madeleine in the 8th arrondissement. No styrofoam containers here, the chicken came in a lovely ceramic casserole. I remember that it was charmingly garnished with heart-shaped toasts. Add them to the finished dish if you happen to own a heart-shaped cookie cutter — alas, I do not. You may notice that I have omitted the classic ingredient in my version of this recipe: pearl onions. This is because my sweetie does not like pearl onions. If yours does, add a cup of frozen pearl onions to the dish when you add the mushrooms.
A good romantic comedy would round out your Valentine’s Day nicely. One of my favorites is “Barefoot in the Park” starring two actors at the height of of their beauty — Jane Fonda and Robert Redford. Redford originated the role of the conservative attorney, Paul Bratner, in the Broadway play written by Neil Simon. He is newly married to the vivacious and free-spirited Corrie, played by Jane Fonda. All of the elements of a good movie are here. The writing and direction are excellent, and Redford and Fonda have a great chemistry. It must be said, however, that Mildred Natwick, playing the role she originated on Broadway as Corrie’s mother, steals the show. Supposedly, Neil Simon based his play on his first marriage.
- 4 pieces of chicken (thighs, breasts, or a combination)
- 2 Tbs. butter
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 4 oz. pancetta, diced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 3 or 4 carrots, peeled and sliced on a diagonal
- 1/2 pound of cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
- 1/4 c. Cognac or good Brandy
- 1 c. dry red wine
- 1 c. chicken stock
- 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 Tbs. flour
- Preheat oven to 325
- Heat olive oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring until fat is rendered and pancetta is lightly browned. Remove pancetta and reserve.
- Pat chicken dry and liberally season with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken about 5 minutes per side. Remove chicken to a plate.
- Add the carrots, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle a little salt over the vegetables to draw out their moisture and prevent burning. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until vegetables have softened.
- To the softened vegetables, add the flour and cook stirring for about 3 minutes.
- Add the Cognac and stir until the sauce becomes smooth. Then add pancetta, chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan.
- Stir up the pot and add the wine, chicken stock, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf and bring to a simmer.
- Cover the Dutch oven and braise in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until meat is tender.
- Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms in the butter until they soften and begin to give up their moisture.
- Remove pan from oven, and add the mushroom. Simmer another 10 minutes. Season to taste and shower with chopped fresh parsley. Serve with mashed potatoes.