Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms, Pancetta and Almonds

You may have noticed that I don't cook a lot of meat.  My husband has been designated as the one who cooks the proteins while I take over the vegetables, sides, soups and appetizers.  However, last night I braised some chicken all by my lonesome!

We saw this recipe over a year ago on Food Network's Secrets of a Restaurant Chef.  We made it for Christmas Eve last year and it was an instant hit.  I really like Anne Burrell's show, but watching the amount of salt she uses in her cooking is horrifying.  It reinforces the idea of home cooking 90% of the time and eating out for special occasions!


Olive oil
3 lbs chicken breasts on the bone with skin
1 pound (or so) mixed mushrooms (I used crimini and shiitake), cleaned and sliced
1/3 lb pancetta diced
1 very large onion diced
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup dry white wine
2-3 cups chicken stock
a few springs of thyme
4 bay leaves
1/2 cup blanched almonds

In a large dutch oven heat the olive oil to high.  Pat the chicken dry, salt and add to the oil.  Cook on one side until browned and then turn to brown the other side.  If the oil starts smoking too much you can turn down the heat.

**I have always had a problem doing this.  You need the confidence to just leave the chicken alone while it spatters away.  Once it is nice and browned the chicken will lift easily up from the bottom of the pan. 

Remove the chicken and set aside.  Lower the heat and remove the excess oil.  Add the pancetta, raise the heat and cook until browned and crispy.  Add the onions and cook for about 7-8 minutes or until nice and softened.  Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they have released their juices

**you can tell this by the change in color, they will become much darker.

Add the white wine a cook until reduced.  At this point, return the chicken to the pan.  Add in the chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves and bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer, cover and cook for about 30-35 minutes until chicken is done.

Meanwhile toast the almonds in a sauce pan (just add the almonds to a hot pan and stir around until they just start to darken).  Put the almonds in a food processor and blend, adding olive oil as you do to make a paste.

When the chicken is done, remove the chicken and set aside.  Taste the sauce and season if needed.  Add the almond paste to the pot and cook until the sauce is thickened  **when I did this last night I added too much stock and had to cook this down for quite awhile.  That's fine, just make sure to continue stirring so the bottom doesn't burn. 

When it is thickened, remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves. 

Serve the chicken with a healthy dose of the sauce as a topping!

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