Portuguese Chicken

Tuesday night was a fabulous meal filled with copious amount of fabulous Italian food.  I was still full from the meal on Wednesday, but knew I had to cook dinner, since there were no guarantees that I'd be coking on Friday or Saturday with my father coming into town.  I bought the recent Bon Appetit last week and while there were many recipes I was interested in, the one that stood out the most was in an article about braising, my most favorite method of winter cooking.  We had the most obscene braised beef cheeks the night before, so rich and savoury from the slow braised beef and large amounts of red wine.  As much as I loved it I just knew that a rich beef dish like the oxtail bourginon in the article was not the way to go, at least not today.  Then I found a recipe for "Portuguese Chicken" that sounded easy, tasty and hearty but not nearly too heavy. I also loved that it called for breaking down a whole chicken, something I've done before but not with step by step directions.

So I pulled a chicken out of our chest freezer, praying it would defrost in enough time that I would be able to serve dinner at a decent time.  One of the drawback to my complete and utter lack of planning out the weeks' meals is  that I am rarely able to make use of the meat and other tasty treats we hoard in our freezer.  I was determined to make it work today, so I left this chicken on the counter and as the day passed and it was still rock solid, I resorted to setting it in a cold water bath.  Not my preferred method of defrosting, but if I use it right away something I'm comfortable doing it.  Luckily that did the trick and set about making dinner.

Portuguese Chicken
adapted from Bon Appetit
serves 4

1 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbsp plus 1/4 tsp Hungarian sweet paprika
1 3- to 3 1/4-lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes in juice - I used fire roasted tomatoes for even more flavor
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
12 cipolline onions or 1-inch-diameter pearl onions, blanched 1 minute, peeled
2 large roasted red peppers from jar, halved, cut into 3/4-inch-wide strips
6 large garlic cloves, pressed
4 large fresh Italian parsley sprigs
4 large fresh bay leaves, bruised - I used 3 dry bay leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup tawny Port
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp butter, room temperature (optional)
1 Tbsp flour (optional) 
sea salt & fresh cracked pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon paprika, 11/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in large bowl. Add chicken pieces to seasoned flour, 1 at a time, and turn to coat. 
2. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, and sauté until brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate; reserve skillet.
3. Arrange chicken in single layer in large ovenproof pot. Top with tomatoes and juice, prosciutto, onions, peppers, garlic, parsley, and bay leaves; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon paprika. 
4. Add wine and Port to reserved skillet. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Remove from heat. Whisk in mustard and tomato paste; pour mixture over chicken and bring to boil. Cover; transfer to oven.
5. Braise chicken until very tender, about 11/2 hours. Discard bay leaves and parsley. Using tongs, transfer chicken and toppings to platter. Return sauce in pot to simmer.
6. If thicker sauce is desired, stir 1 tablespoon flour and butter in small bowl until smooth paste forms. Add flour paste to sauce and whisk to blend. Simmer until sauce thickens to desired consistency, whisking often. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon over chicken and serve.

This dish came together so easily and while it takes some time to cook, it is so worth it.  The slow-cooked, tender chicken with the smokey, tangy sauce is so very satisfying and a much lighter answer to the braised beef we love so much in our house. I bought a head of radicchio and charred the edges on the grill pan, dressed with with some 18 year old balsamic and picholine olive oil for an easy and light side dish.  

One thing I'm finding with the challenge is that I am much more likely to actually cook things out of the magazines I impulsively buy at the grocery store.  Rather that simply take our go to meals and tweak them, I read cookbooks more, I tear recipes out of magazines and while I did this all before I am now so much more likely to follow through on actually cooking the recipes.  I know that's one of the purposes of the challenge and a necessity when it comes to doing something like this, but for some reason I feel like I've been following through on it alot more as of late.  

Here's how my last few days looked:

Wednesday February 23 - Portuguese Chicken
Thursday February 24 - Wine and cheese with my Dad
Friday February 25 - No dinner, I spent the day at the Trius Vineyard in Niagara eating and drinking, stay tuned for a write up on Piccante Dolce

If you have any recipes you'd like me to try or maybe even the other ladies, comment here or contact us, through the contact link at the top of the page.  I'll try anything once.  If it's something you don't feel up to trying or something you love that you think the Boy and I would, send it along.