I have recently become obsessed with braising. Partly because after getting married I now have fancy cast iron pots and partly (mostly) because I am a food nerd.  As is typically the case, I fuel that nerdiness with recipes from Bon Appétit. In February, they had an issue on braising, and a Portuguese Chicken recipe that I could not pass up. One of the things that stood out was the fact that wine is used in this recipe not one time, but three times. I was sold on trying it.

You will need:

    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
    • 1 3- to 3 1/4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
    • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
    • 12 cipolline onions or 1-inch-diameter pearl onions, blanched 1 minute, peeled
    • 2 large roasted red peppers from jar, halved, cut into 3/4-inch-wide strips
    • 6 large garlic cloves, pressed
    • 4 large fresh Italian parsley sprigs
    • 4 large fresh bay leaves, bruised
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine
    • 1/2 cup tawny Port
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
    • 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature (optional)

Blanching Onions

So first, regarding blanched onions, you’re probably wondering how to do this. Blanching is super easy. It’s basically putting pearl or cipolline onions in boiling water for about a minute, then immediately into ice water so that the outside is easy to peel off and the onions are perfectly shiny and peel free. Why do this? It makes these little thin-skinned suckers super easy to peel, and you don’t get that nasty onion smell on your hands.

Roasted Red Peppers

And regarding red peppers: You can get the ones out of a jar, but a more cost-effective way to do this is to roast them yourself. Put them on the top rack of a 500 degree oven. Roast until black all over, turning to get the other side. They should look like the picture below. Let them cool, peel the skin off and de-seed them. Amazing flavor and sense of accomplishment. 🙂

Okay, just some side notes. Carry on with your recipe, below.

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Whisk 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in large bowl.

3. Add chicken pieces to seasoned flour, 1 at a time, and turn to coat.

4. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.

5. Add chicken, skin side down, and sauté until brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side.

6. Transfer chicken to plate; reserve skillet.

7. Arrange chicken in single layer in large ovenproof pot.

8. Top with tomatoes and juice, prosciutto, onions, red peppers, garlic, parsley, and bay leaves; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon paprika.

9. Add wine and Port to reserved skillet. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Remove from heat.

10. Whisk in mustard and tomato paste; pour mixture over chicken and bring to boil. Cover; transfer to oven.

Okay, let’s stop here for a second and talk about wine. I just posted an entry on cooking with wine here

I used Trader Joe’s Sauvignon Blanc. I used this wine because it’s dry, acidic and leaves a clean taste. This wine was cheap-o. $6.99 to be exact. And perfect. So why Sauvignon Blanc versus another dry white wine? Sauvignon Blancs are not typically aged in oak, and are usually consumed younger, which I prefer, because you have just the fresh flavors of the grape to deal with. Depending on the age of Sauvignon Blanc, the flavors can range from crisp citrus flavors to red and green peppers. Pretty awesome when you think about cooking with it.

You’ll notice that even Grey Poupon has white wine in it. So okay, this probably doesn’t really matter, but it’s another dimension of flavor.

And lastly, I used tawny port. What is that exactly? It sounds like some shy girl from my high school in Virginia. But, it’s not. Portugal is known for its Port wines, which can be quite sweet. Tawny port is made from red grapes and aged in wood, and is aged for less time than those vintage ports you hear about. It is less sweet as well. Vintage Ports can be almost syrup-y. As with all ports, they are fortified with a neutral grape spirit (kind of like a grape vodka) for a higher alcohol content. Because Tawny Port is aged in wooden barrels, it is exposed to oxidation, which adds a bit of a nutty flavor to the wine. This sweetness in the wine balances with the bitter of the Sauvignon Blanc and the mustard we added. It helps to round out the flavors in our chicken.

Braising is kind of like simmering for hours in the oven versus the stovetop, so the flavor will not be overwhelmingly alcohol-y.

Okay, to finish the recipe:

11. Braise chicken until very tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Discard bay leaves and parsley.

12. Using tongs, transfer chicken and toppings to platter. Return sauce in pot to simmer.

13. If thicker sauce is desired, stir 1 tablespoon flour and butter in small bowl until smooth paste forms.

14. Add flour paste to sauce and whisk to blend. Simmer until sauce thickens to desired consistency, whisking often. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

15. Spoon over chicken and serve.

Enjoy!

~ Dana

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