A pretty perfect chicken (by memory)

A few days ago, I decided that it was time again to make one of my favourite recipes (Volaille Fermière au Vinaigre, or Farmhouse Chicken in Vinegar Sauce) from my favourite cookbook (Saveur Cooks Authentic French).

It was only after my wife Jan had bought a package of chicken thighs that I remembered I had loaned the cookbook to my friend Richard, who lives on the edge of our village of Daglan. Oops.

Since I didn’t really want to bother him for the book, just for this one recipe, I decided to try to create the dish from memory, and I’m pleased to say that it worked. In case you’d like to try a perfectly delicious (and pretty easy) way to cook chicken, I’ll recreate the steps here — and conclude with a photo of the final dish.

Starting with eight chicken thighs, I salted and peppered them, and then started browning the chicken in a large pan, in a mixture of melted butter and olive oil. When the thighs were about half-way to being nicely browned, I added in a thinly sliced shallot, and continued cooking until the chicken was well browned and the shallots had softened.

Then it was just a matter of adding: a cup or so of chicken stock; half a cup or so of cider vinegar; a cup or so of dry white wine; a large tablespoonful of honey; a couple of cloves of garlic, finely chopped; and a few good squeezes of tomato paste. Then I stirred the mixture well.

By this point, the chicken will have been cooking for at least 20 minutes. Now you can cover the pan, and keep cooking for another half hour. Next, remove the lid from the pan, and cook until the sauce is reduced to a nice sticky consistency. (As long as the sauce doesn’t evaporate, there’s no worry about over-cooking the chicken.)

At this point, taste the sauce, add some butter for extra richness and shine, and adjust the flavour as you wish — it should be a bit tart (from the vinegar) but also a bit sweet (from the honey). So if needed, you could add a bit more vinegar or a bit more honey; if it’s too dry, add some chicken stock. As you finish the cooking, turn the pieces occasionally, so that both sides of the chicken pieces are covered in the shiny sauce.

We served ours with mashed potatoes and some green beans, and it looked like this — and tasted great:

Two chicken thighs made for a perfect lunch.

Two chicken thighs made for a perfect lunch.

This entry was posted in Food, French food, Life in southwest France, Recipes, Wine and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A pretty perfect chicken (by memory)

  1. Cait says:

    Sounds absolutely divine! I love the “aigre-doux”-iness of it.

  2. marshp2013 says:

    Sounds delicious, Loren, and that’s one I might try myself!

  3. Rosemary McCaffrey says:

    No grass grows under my feet! I made this for dinner tonight. I thought we needed some comfort food and this was just what the doctor ordered. Thank you very much for such a delicious menu, Loren! And, I do love reading your posts!

  4. Double D's says:

    Chief Trainer noted that your haricot vert were trimmed on both sides but said the traditional french preparation would only be to trim the stem side. Aside from her excellent powers of observation is she also correct? We will understand if you must consult many restaurants in search of the answer.

    • loren24250 says:

      We’ve never noticed that,(“the traditional French preparation”) to be honest. Jan always trims “tops and tails,” as we say. We’ll try to keep a closer eye on green beans in future!

  5. Double D's says:

    We just finished making and consuming this dish and it was absolutely delicious. (well in truth D1 prepared and I was more on the consuming bit) We adjusted the dish with a touch more honey as you suggested in balancing the flavours near the end. As a bonus the house smells wonderful too.
    With the amount of chicken in our diets its nice to have a new way to prepare it. Thanks Loren.

    • loren24250 says:

      Delighted that you liked it. Tomorrow it’s chicken for lunch for us — but it’s a chicken curry! Today I tried a Mary Berry recipe for shoulder of lamb, and thought it was great. (If you don’t know, Mary Berry is a very well known English cookery person.)

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