There are many versions of this classic French dish, most cooked in a full-bodied red wine. However, the main ingredient is always the cockerel, which has, hopefully, lived its life scratching around the farm and fields before joining the pot. Few of us, unfortunately, have access to these full-flavored birds, so always use a good-quality chicken.
This recipe is curtesy of Le Creuset and was made for their 5 quart oval French Oven. Serves 6 - 8
Heat the oil in the French oven over medium heat on the stovetop. Add the bacon and onion and cook, stirring, until both are softened and then remove, draining well.
Fry the chicken in batches until all the pieces are evenly browned, then return them all to the pan with the bacon and onion. Remove the French Oven from the heat and add the brandy. Carefully ignite, standing well back until the flames subside, then return the pan to the heat.
Preheat the oven to 275°F. Tie all the herbs into a bundle with fine string and add this to the French oven with the garlic, tomato paste, lemon juice, sugar and red wine. Cover with the lid and cook in the oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until the chicken is very tender.
Glazed shallots and mushrooms:
About 30 minutes before the chicken finishes cooking, melt the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and fry for 10 to 15 minutes until they are golden brown and soft; transfer to a plate. Add the mushrooms to the pan and toss so they are just cooked and colored.
Blend the butter and flour together in a small bowl. Remove a few pieces of the cooked chicken from the French oven to make room to stir in the beurre manie. Add this in small amounts, stirring after each addition so that the sauce remains smooth.
When all the beurre manié has been incorporated, return the chicken together with the shallots and mushrooms. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle the top generously with the parsley and serve from the French oven.
This recipe can also be cooked in a round 5 1/2 QT. French oven.
If a lower fat content is a requirement, remove the chicken skin before cooking and thicken the cooking liquid with 2 teaspoons blended cornstarch instead of the beurre manié.
This dish has traditionally been prepared with red Burgundy, which makes an excellent accompaniment to the meal. Try one of the red wines from the Burgundy village of Marsannay or Santenay, or try a Pinot Noir from Oregon.
Recipe Courtesy of Le Creuset.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
two 4 1/2-pound chickens, each cut into 8 pieces
5 tablespoons brandy
A few sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary and parsley
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 bottle full-bodied, dry red wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, to garnish