There was a whole chicken in the fridge and an increasing number of people to feed, so my plan for roast chicken flew out the window. Instead, I cut the bird into 10 pieces (breast parts in half), and put the back bone, wing tips and neck into some simmering salted water for a quick broth. Strategically, I decided to make as much sauce with the braise as I could, and cook a big pot of noodles so there was plenty for everyone to eat (at least four fellas and me). Braised cabbage was on the side. Usually this dish is made with white wine but I only had red on hand, No big deal. But I did have some bacon, carrots, onions and mushrooms. And, I was in a hurry so a few steps were eclipsed.
- Season the chicken parts with lots of salt, and brown on both sides in olive oil. Remove the chicken from the pot. Pour off some fat if you want. I like to keep it for flavor.
- In a large pot (like this low-sided braiser) saute chopped onions, carrots, celery, sliced mushrooms, a few bacon slices, and minced garlic. As the veg lets out liquid, scrape up those brown bits from the bottom, and keep cooking on until the veg are beginning to caramelize. (here’s where I diverged from the traditional white-wine-white-cream world).
- Stir in a tablespoon of tomato paste, let it cook a minute to remove the raw flavor. Splash in the red wine, a good cupful, Simmer until the wine reduces a bit. Then add the broth that’s been cooking on the stove, or us about 3-4 cups store-bought chicken broth.
- Return the chicken to the pan (liquid should just cover the parts) bring to a boil then reduce to simmer, cover and cook about 30 minutes. Season at the end with salt and ground black pepper. Scatter over some fresh chopped parsley if you have it.
If you want a more traditional vibe, then use white wine, and skip the tomato paste. Stir in some cream at the end. New updated proverb: A bird in the fridge is worth two in a braise!