Sunday, February 27, 2011

Braised Chicken Thighs in Almond Sauce with Harticot Verts

We're buds right?  I mean you won't tell on me if I tell you a secret, becuase that would be really low.  I mean the low of the low to rat out some random grouping of words written by a woman you don't even know.... actually as I think of my captive audience we've probably known each other since grade school as we are grade (or high) school friends/facebook re-friends.... or since birth as you are quite possibly one of my parents.  As I was saying... you won't tell on me right?  So here's my confession.....

I have thrown the advice of my doctors and nurses out the window and started dieting and excercising four weeks after having my baby instead of six.  Well... the truth be told I have attempted to throw that advice out the window but it turns out if you disobey your doctors and nurses karma has a way of rearranging the universe to sabatage you!

There was the yoga class that inexplicably disappeared from the schedule where it used to always be.  The mellow class I was taking at the end of my pregnancy... the one I thought I could sneak in without actually causing any harm, but helping me center myself in my sleep deprived (still) state, laundry consumed mind.  Then there was the signing up for weight watchers only to find they have revamped their entire program and I can't just rattle off points from memory and have to look up and log every little thing... which I did... no problem.... score for me... until the husband (being the sweetie that he is) made my son and I popcorn for our jamma party... and brought me my own giant bowl... just the way I like... SWIMMING in butter... doh!  And then placed that bowl on my lap next to a sleeping baby and left the room.  I wanted to put it down, I swore I would just smell it a little, and then 500 cups later he returned and I made him take it away immediately.  That's right I have will power of steel, I made him take all those little unpopped seeds back to the kitchen.

Then there was this recipe!  I saw this recipe at least once a day while rocking the baby in her nursery.  I saw the golden skin of the chicken before it is braised, I saw the creamy almond paste added to the stock and watch it thicken in the midst of all those mushrooms and I thought.... diet or no... I've already bought all the ingredients and they are sitting in the fridge calling.  Listen... shhhh... can you hear them... here is what they say.... Eileeeeeeeen, it's only been 4 weeks, no one has to knows abouts it.'re not even suppose to be dieting yet, and it's chicken and harticot verts how bad could we be?  Oh and mushrooms... look at all those plump little mushrooms... those don't cost ya anything for weight watcher points.  And we're oh so much healthier than the take out you'll end up getting if you don't cook so stop being a wuss and just get your big post-pregnancy behind in here and cook!  It was delicious, and I didn't even have to cook it because my husband rocks the cazzzzbar!


•Extra-virgin olive oil
•8 chicken thighs
•Kosher salt
•1/2 pound pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch dice
•2 large onions, julienned
•Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
•4 cloves garlic, smashed
•2 pounds assorted mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster or cremini, cleaned and sliced
•2 cups dry white wine
•4 to 6 cups chicken stock
•1 bundle thyme
•4 bay leaves
•1/2 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted
•Sauteed Haricots Verts, recipe follows
•Chopped chives, for garnish


Coat a large, wide, deep pan with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Pat the chicken skin dry with paper towels and season generously with salt. Add chicken skin side down to the pan. You should hear a big sizzle as the thighs hit the pan. Do not try to move the chicken, the skin will stick itself to the bottom of the pan and will unstick itself when it is ready. If the pan is smoking excessively turn the burner down and continue to cook. When the skin is brown and crispy, turn the chicken over and brown it on the other side. Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve.

Lower the heat if you have not already done so and ditch most of the excess fat. Add the pancetta and brown. When the pancetta has started to get brown and crispy add the onions. Season with salt and crushed red pepper and sweat over medium heat for 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and saute for 3 to 4 minutes or until they release their juices. Add the wine and reduce by half. Return the chicken to the pan. Add chicken stock to almost cover the chicken. Add the thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the chicken for 30 to 35 minutes. Add more chicken stock, if needed.

While the chicken is cooking puree the almonds in the food processor. Drizzle in a little olive oil while the machine is running to make this a loose paste. Season with salt and reserve.

Once the chicken has cooked for 30 to 35 minutes, remove it from the pan and reserve. Taste the sauce for seasoning and stir in the almond puree. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer to thicken the sauce, if needed. The almond puree will help to thicken the sauce and to make it very rich.

Serve the chicken over Sauteed Haricots Verts or your favorite green vegetable. Spoon the mushroom almond sauce over and garnish with chopped chives.

Sauteed Haricots Verts:

•1/2 pound haricots verts (baby string beans), stem ends removed
•Extra-virgin olive oil
•2 garlic cloves, smashed
•Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
•Kosher salt

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Set up a bowl of well salted ice water for shocking.

Add the beans to the boiling water and cook until the beans are tender but still toothsome about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the boiling water and place immediately into the salted ice water. Once the beans are cool, remove them from the water and set aside until ready to use.

Coat a large saute pan with olive oil. Add the garlic and the crushed red pepper and bring to a medium-high heat. When the garlic has become golden and very aromatic, remove it and discard. It has fulfilled its garlic destiny. Add the beans to the pan and saute until they are hot and coated with oil. Season with salt and serve right away.

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