Thursday, January 13, 2011

a good mutt

It was our third day of house arrest: Deep Freeze 2011. Actually, we ventured out mid-morning yesterday to shop for dog food and home repair project supplies while the roads were somewhat melted. We had to go the long way around to the center of Snellville because our road was too icy.

Anyway, despite going out for provisions, at around four o’clock I found myself pondering what to make for dinner. In addition to dog food, I’d bought fresh spinach, and some crackers and a hunk of parmesan, soymilk, clementines and some apples and four bottles of red wine: none of these in any combination seemed like dinner. I found about three quarters of a cut up free-range chicken in the freezer. I knew a good braise was on the menu.

This is sort of a mongrel coq au vin: a mutt.

Reconstituted dried porcini mushrooms: about 1/4 cup chopped up. Save liquid. ( If you have fresh mushrooms, chop in half and sauté: use as many as you like. )
A good carrot, cut in about 1/2 “ pieces.
A large onion, chopped small
I had a shallot.
You could use all shallots if you had enough to make about 3/4 cup chopped.
As many garlic cloves as you like, peeled and smashed. I used around 5.
Put all the above into a heavy casserole, add some kosher or sea salt.

Chicken legs, cut up, breast, cut in half. Brown skin side down in a tiny bit of oil.
Use medium heat to start to render out fat, then turn heat up to finish browning.
Put in casserole on top of vegs, add some kosher salt and a hefty grind of pepper.
Drain out any oil in pan, deglaze with a bit of wine. Add to casserole.

I went outside to get some rosemary, thyme and sage. The rosemary was completely under ice, but I was happily able to secure 5 good size springs of thyme and 4 sprigs of sage from my pot on the deck.
I resorted to dried rosemary chopped up, about 1 T.

2 C chicken stock. (I used the turkey stock from Thanksgiving that I had in the freezer)
Approx. 1 C white wine, or enough to just cover other ingredients with liquid. Add the mushroom liquid, too, if you have it.

Bring all to boil on top of stove, remove immediately from stove when it boils.
You want this to cook slowly. Put covered is preheated 325 oven. Check in about 15 minutes, if still bubbling, reduce heat. Taste, adjust seasonings as this cooks. It is done when meat is nearly falling off bone. This took about 1.5 hours.

Remove chicken pieces and mash solids. I used my handy stick blender for this, always a terrific tool. Thicken (you just want to make it into a sauce with a teensy bit of body) any way you like: you can make a little roux with some butter and flour, you can use equal proportions of raw flour and butter and mash together as a paste and add to liquid over med. heat, or you can do what I did: I used about 1 T or 2 of Wondra flour (perfect for such an occasion!)

With this we had cauliflower purée with a bit of horseradish stirred in.

Now I have to plan tonight’s menu. We’re iced in again.

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