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: