Thursday, January 14, 2010

Agrodolce: Sweet & Sour Chicken

I am headed to Chicago tomorrow to visit aunts, uncles, and cousins -- oh my! And there's a dinner with a dear friend in there too. We'll dress up and taxi to a low lit restaurant and I might just have a sassy cocktail and a glass of wine too. Can a weekend get much better?

The anticipation makes me think about what I love most about gathering together with family and friends: long meals together, too much food and drink, laughter and conversation.

I was reminded of a meal my Mom and I made on one of the last nights of 2009. It was a recipe from Insalata's Mediterranean Table, the cookbook I'd given her for Christmas. The ingredient list is quite long, but the actually execution is easy, and the final result is divine. Is there really anything better than a chicken thigh, robed in sweet and tangy juice on top of a pool of polenta? I think not.

We ate this meal on the eve of New Year's Eve alongside a green salad and a crisp bottle of champagne. Then we popped in the car amidst a swirling snow storm and headed to the movies. When we exited the theater I remember looking up into the sky and watching the snowflakes fall slowly all around me. I felt like I was in my own private snow globe -- a magical place to be.

Cheers to long weekends, snow and cold, food and drink, and memory making. Enjoy!

12 chicken thighs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 and 1/2 cups minced yellow onion
1 and 1/2 cups minced celery
1 and 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 and 1/2 cups dry white wine
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
3 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons honey
1 and 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 and 1/2 tablespoons capers
2 to 3 tablespoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs thyme
1 and 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 and 1/2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1 and 1/2 tablespoons chopped oregano
Polenta for serving

Generously sprinkle the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. In a large saute pan, heat the oils over medium-high heat. Working in batches, taking care not to over crowd the pan, brown the chicken on all sides. Remove the thighs from the pan and set aside. Drain off all but 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add onion, celery, and garlic; cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the white wine, cider, and sherry vinegars; cook, scraping up the darkened bits from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in the stock, raisins, honey, tomato paste, capers, salt, pepper, red chile flakes, bay leaves, and thyme. Return chicken to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer the chicken to a platter; set aside. Whisk in the butter, chopped parsley, and oregano; pour over the chicken. Serve immediately over polenta.
From Insalata's Mediterranean Table Cookbook

1 comment:

Shannalee said...

Yay for a trip to Chicago! Whether you got to take pictures or not, I hope you'll say something about the visit. I'd love to hear what all you did and where you went. Hope it was great. :)