Sunday, June 12, 2011

Braised Chicken Legs with Lemon

I think we've stumbled on a brilliant idea! Start a food blog, get your friends interested in said food blog, somehow convince them to be guest bloggers and have them come to your house (ingredients in hand) and cook you a wonderful dinner! (see, I told you, brilliant!)

{{ Okay, moratorium on exclamation points }}

But seriously, when our friend and fellow foodie Andrew (not to be confused with Andy of Steak Taco fame) asked if he could come over and cook us dinner we jumped at the chance. Andrew's a member of Guerrilla Dinner Party group here in Birmingham, which includes some notable local chefs and other foodies. We couldn't wait to see what he whipped up.

Here's his Guest Blog:

I have decided to run contrary to the Necessary Pleasures family’s current diversion into the prurient, i.e., Weinerfest and Corn Porn, and intend to purify the culinary waters with a dish that has a G rated Birmingham connection*. That dish is Braised Chicken Legs with Lemon from Richard Onley’s 1974 cookbook, Simple French Food.

Olney spent much of his life as a food writer in France and this dish originates from the Catalan region in the south. I like most facets of this recipe. It requires only a couple of cooking vessels, the meat is braised (which is both easy and delicious, if done properly) and it has quantities of both lemon and garlic, and what the heck (G rated, see) can be wrong with that. I also recently scored a new large Dutch oven and am still in the new toy phase.

The procedure is quite simple.

1. Peel the garlic (helps if you have a sous chef like Jason to help.) 

and get it simmering in the broth (I skip the parboiling mentioned in the recipe).

2. In the meantime, brown the seasoned chicken (I do this in olive oil and butter so as not to burn the butter), and peel and slice the lemon.

Once browned on all sides, remove chicken, deglaze with wine, add more butter if desired, stir in flour, return chicken to pan, add stock and garlic, delicately making sure to distribute the garlic without crushing it, and put your lemon slices over the top.

Put in a 300 to 350 degree oven and let go for 45 minutes to an hour.

The traditional way to serve this is with rice, but pasta would work, as well as cous cous (which I realize is also a pasta). I suspect that mashed potatoes with olive oil and/or butter would be pretty good too. Here it was done with Thai red rice mixed with caramelized onions and fresh lemon thyme.

* As for the aforementioned Magic City connection, here is the brief version. Richard Olney was a significant influence on Alice Waters, the somewhat sanctimonious and socioeconomically out of touch, but generally righteous, demiurge of the Slow Foods movement. Local chef of note, Frank Stitt, was heavily influenced by Waters while cooking at her Berkley California restaurant, Chez Panisse. She then recommended him to Olney who made Stitt his personal assistant in France, while the latter was editing a Time-Life book series on cooking.


Jason - I thought it was really good. I liked the combination of the rice and the chicken. The chicken was really tender and had a great flavor!

Olivia - I liked the chicken, but I didn't like the rice because it's just not like wild rice. 

Hannah - I loved the chicken. I thought that the chicken could use your pepper, because I like pepper. But the rice, the only rices that I really like are wild rice and white rice and I tried this and I just didn't really like it. 

Tanya - I really liked the dish. The chicken was fall-from-the-bones tender and the lemon and garlic was a really subtle infusion. We paired it with a 2007 Cosentino Pinot Noir that was excellent. Andrew can definitely come back any time to cook for us! 

So ... who's next for guest blogging?!? We've got an opening for dinner next weekend ;--)


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