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Hunter's Chicken and Bordeaux Superieur

It's Fall (sort of) in Southeast Florida. We don't get Fall-like weather here in recent years till late November. But prior to this incarnation I had a really cool shop near Seattle selling specialty food, wine and anything I liked as a chef. And one thing I really like is Le Creuset cast iron cookware. (I know what some of you are going to say - it's too heavy! It's not. You don't have to walk around with it! Just pull it out of the cupboard and place it on the stove top. It really does create amazing even heating esp. for dishes like this. ) As the weather did turn cool there much earlier, every September I would run a special order sale for Le Creuset cookware, getting my awesome clientele in the mood for braises and stews that are just so tasty as the season turns cooler. And this Chicken Chasseur is a recipe I demo'd in cast iron - but of course any solid saucepan will work as well.

Thinking about what might be tasty with this, Burgundy came to mind first (white or red) but I decided to find something in the rack that might be a little less precious and still have the body and elegance to match this somewhat rustic dish, although the flavors are actually quite refined. So to that end, the entry level Bordeaux from La Gaffeliere fit the bill - and to whomever gifted me this bottle, thank you! 2018 vintage turned out really well in Bordeaux, with the Chateau Chapelle D'Alienor exhibiting black fruits and structure with well integrated acidity that balances nicely with this dish. A blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, around $20, ready to drink now - what's not to like?

Chicken Chasseur

Serves 6

Thighs give this a rich base and are moist. But if you prefer white meat, feel free to use bone in breasts, esp. if you can find someone raising smaller pastured hens. Just be careful not to overcook.

6 chicken thighs (or 6 small bone-in chicken breasts)

1 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil

4 tbsp. butter

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 cup mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (chanterelles, shitakes or buttons)

2 tbsp. all purpose flour

3/4 cup white wine

3 tbsp. brandy or cognac

3 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and quartered

1 cup chicken stock

2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon (or substitute fresh thyme)

1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley

Slices of baguette, lightly toasted

Heat the oil in a 5 ½ qt. French oven and add half the butter. When the foaming subsides, add the chicken and sauté in batches on both sides until browned. Put on a baking sheet and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour the excess fat out of the pan.

Melt the remaining butter in the pan. Add the shallots and cook until softened but not browned, about 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook stirring often for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle on the flour and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in the white wine, brandy, tomatoes and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and add the tarragon or thyme. Return the chicken to the pan, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through (internal temp of 165 degrees F). Sprinkle with parsley and serve with baguette.

Copyright 2009 Donna Leahy


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