Vermouth & Broth-braised Chicken Thighs with Olives and Prosciutto

Adapted from “The Bonne Femme Cookbook,” by Wini Moranville, thighs16_1I’ve had my version of this recipe floating around the house for some time now — but finally decided to give it a try.  I love braised dishes anyway, and after such great success with my Braised Country-Style Pork Ribs, I thought I would try a braised poultry dish.

Braising is an English term derived from the French word “braiser,” and is a combination cooking method wherein typically the food is first seared or browned at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a specifically desired flavor. Braising relies on heat, time, and moisture to break down the tough connective tissue collagen in meat, making it an ideal way to cook tougher cuts. Pot roasting, pressure cooking, and slow cooking are all forms of braising.

Like most braised dishes, it is initially prepared on the stove top, then finished off by baking, covered, in the oven, to seal in all those wonderful flavors and juices, and to infuse the meat (in this case poultry) with the succulent juices that give it its flavor.

INGREDIENTS:

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8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 TBSP EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

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1/2 cup extra-dry vermouth

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 tsp dried Herbes de Provence, crushed

3 TBSP Meyer lemon juice

1 TBSP grated lemon rind

1/2 cup pitted imported black olives, or kalamatas

1 oz Prosciutto, finely chopped (or 1 oz Pancetta, cooked, then crumbled) – about 1/4 cup

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DIRECTIONS:

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.

2.  Trim off any excess skin, then season with salt and pepper

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3.  In a large Dutch Oven or cast iron pan, on medium high, heat the EVOO until it develops a sheen or until you can begin to smell the olive oil fragrance. 

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Add the chicken and cook for about 5-6 minutes per side, only turning once, about 10-12 minutes total.  When the thighs are nicely browned on both sides, transfer to a plate; drain off the remaining oil/fat until there is about a tablespoon remaining.

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4.  Reduce heat to medium and add the diced onions.  Stir occasionally and cook unto the onions are tender and transparent – about 3-5 minutes.

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Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. 

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Pour in the vermouth and chicken stock, and bring to a slow boil.  Use a whisk or a wooden spatula to scrap up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Let it boil slowly for 1-2 minutes, or until the liquid has been reduced by approximately 1/4 cup.  Stir in the Herbes De Provence, lemon juice, and lemon rind zest.

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5.  Return chicken thighs to the pan, skin side up, and cover.  Transfer the covered pan to the oven, and bake for 20 minutes.

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6.  Uncover – then add the olives, and sprinkle the proscuitto/pancetta over the tops of the chicken.  

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Return the cover to the pan, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, for a total cooking time of 35 minutes.  Check the internal temperature of the chicken – it should be a minimum of 165°F – preferably in the 165-180°F range.

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7.  Distribute the chicken into four shallow bowls – spoon the olives, proscuitto/pancetta bits, and juices over each, and serve.  Alternately it can be served on a plate with other side dishes accompanying.

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For this serving we selected tomatoes, corn & okra, and garlic mashed potatoes as our side dishes.

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Bon Appetit!

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Will

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