Sunday, December 5, 2010

Braised Chicken

Now that it is getting colder, I love to have something on cooking slowly in the oven.  Braising is a wonderful technique that is easy to do and has the results of tasting like you spent all day working in the kitchen.  Here is a chicken that I braised with pears and rosemary.  All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking is where I found this recipe.  My favorite braising tip is to put parchment paper under the lid to keep the juices from burning on the top of the pan. 

Here is the recipe:

  • 3-4 pound whole chicken
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 pears
  • 4 Tbsp butter (divided)
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large leek
  • 2 shallots
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
First, prepare the chicken.
Preheat the oven to 300.
Rinse the chicken (inside and out) and pat it dry. Remove any large chunks of fat around the neck.
Remove the last two joints of each wing. Season both the inside and outside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Quarter the pear and stuff it inside the chicken cavity. Truss the chicken with kitchen string. Bind the drumsticks close to the body and then wrap the string back around the chicken’s body and tie it behind the neck.
Brown the chicken
Heat 1 Tbsp of oil and 2 Tbsp of butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. The butter will foam and then settle down. Pat the chicken dry again and lay it breast side down in the hot pan. Brown the chicken for at least 3-4 minutes and then gently lift it up with wooden spoons to see if it’s browned. If not, let it go another few minutes. You’ll want to carefully turn the chicken so that it browns on all sides. Once the chicken is completely browned, remove it carefully to a plate.
Add any chicken pieces (such as gizzards, heart, neck, and those wing tips you cut off) to the pan and saute them until browned, about 7-10 minutes. Remove those to the plate as well.
Drain the pan of all fat. Turn the heat to medium and add a tablespoon of butter. Now add the leek, shallots, and rosemary sprig, along with some salt and pepper. Cook for about 7-10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the wine, turn the heat up to medium-high, and boil for 2 minutes. Add the stock and vinegar and boil for an additional 2 minutes.
Braise the chicken
Carefully lay the chicken on top of the veggies. Tuck the chicken parts in with the vegetables and cover the dish with parchment paper. Cover and slide into the oven. Baste every 20 minutes for about an hour and 20 minutes or until the chicken registers 170 between the breast and thigh on a thermometer.

Moist chicken with sweet and tangy pears
About 10 minutes before you take the chicken out of the oven…
Peel the last two pears, core them, and slice them into 1/2 inch thick slices. Mince the rosemary and set aside. Heat 2 Tbsp of butter over high heat in a large, nonstick skillet  – the largest skillet you have.
Once the butter stops foaming, add the pears and toss to coat. Add the sugar, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring and turning the pears frequently, until the pears have started to caramelize.
Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for another 30 seconds. The balsamic vinegar will form a glaze that will very quickly thicken. Pull the chicken out of the oven. Using those same wooden spoons (or a meat fork), tip the chicken so any juices inside the cavity run into the Dutch Oven. Set the chicken on a cutting board and cover with foil for a few minutes. Strain most of the vegetables and other chicken parts (wings, heart, etc) out of the pan, keeping all of the juices. Boil the juices over high heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, to thicken.
Carve the chicken. Top with pears and balsamic glaze, and then spoon some of the pan finished juices over the whole thing.

I have a Le Creuset pan that I've had for years.  One item that I recommend for any pan that you braise in, is a metal knob.   I used one large chicken and I got 6 meals for one out it.  The cost for the meal, $9.00 (I like to buy my meat buy one get one free).  

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