This recipe sprang forth from a desire for some French inspired comfort food coupled with a fresh free range chicken sitting in my fridge begging to be eaten. You could easily make this with all chicken thighs or breasts, however I kind of enjoyed breaking down the chicken . . .it felt more homemade or something. Anyway, buying a whole chicken also gives you the added benefit of making homemade chicken stock with the carcass, which is far and away tastier than the store bought stuff.
I happened upon these Chanterelles at the Santa Monica farmer's market, and luckily they didn't weigh much because they were kind of pricey per pound. However, they had a gorgeous bright golden hue and a woodsy aroma that could almost convince you that you had foraged for them yourself. The chicken also came from the Farmer's market at the Healthy Family Farms stand. Their chicken is all pasture raised and they harvest their animals humanely by hand just prior to bringing them to market, so they are never frozen. Just really fresh delicious chicken without all the mystery chemicals, plus it actually got to live a normal happy chicken life (before I ate it, of course).
For the recipe I modified a technique for making Coq au Vin, making this simpler and using a white wine. Whenever making a sauce, a lot of the flavor comes from the browned bits of meat and fat on the pan, so it is imperative that you brown the chicken pieces first. If you want extra flavor, chop up a couple pieces of bacon and cook those down and brown the chicken in the bacon fat. Yes, I just recommended browning some chicken (with the skin on, gasp!) in bacon fat. It won't kill you, unless of course you eat it for every meal, but for those of you who are freaking out just use some olive oil to brown the chicken. But at least keep the chicken skin on, it really tastes better and pasture raised animals have a much better fat profile (lower saturated fat, higher omega-3 content) so if you take the time to buy a healthy bird to eat, you will actually be healthier too.
Ok, enough soap box, back to the fun part, cooking! (or maybe eating, both are great). I initially served this over some brown rice with a side salad, which was delicious because the rice soaked up the wine sauce. In the picture you can see that I have reheated the leftover and added in some baby carrots and sugar snap peas for a side veggie. I wish I had a picture from the first serving, but we were hungry and it smelled too good to wait for pictures! Like most stews/braised dishes, this reheats really well and the one chicken was enough to feed 3 people dinner and then 2 lunches for me. Nice.
CHICKEN WITH CHANTERELLES AND WHITE WINE SAUCE
Serves 4-6 (depending on size of chicken and hunger of people)
1 3-4 lb free range chicken, broken down in to pieces (2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 legs, 2 wings)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 bottle dry white wine
2 cups dried chanterelles (any wild mushrooms will do, or use some creminis)
2 strips bacon, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1. Break down chicken into pieces, reserve carcass and wing tips for stock. Pat dry and season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat large deep skillet (don't use nonstick) over medium heat and add bacon pieces, cook down until crisp bits are left and fat is rendered.
3. Scoop out bits and pour out all but about 2 Tbsp bacon fat (reserve excess in fridge, delicious for roasted potatoes).
4. Increase heat to medium high, then brown chicken pieces until golden. Set chicken aside on plate.
5. Lower heat to medium and add onion and 1 Tbsp butter, sautee until translucent.
6. Add chanterelles and brown with onions.
7. Add about 1/2 bottle of white wine, simmer to reduce for about 5 minutes, scraping bottom of pan to release browned bits of yummy goodness.
8. Add chicken pieces back in and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
9. Finish off sauce with remaining Tbsp of butter, season with salt and pepper to taste. Fresh thyme is especially nice on this.
HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK (pressure cooker method)
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts
Chicken carcass, wing tips
3 carrots, in pieces
3 celery stalks, in pieces
1 onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Herbs of choice (I used thyme and bay leaf)
2 quarts water
1. Place all ingredients in pressure cooker and cook for about 2 hours.
2. Strain stock and season to taste with salt.
3. Keeps for several days in fridge or months in freezer.