3 ounces lean pancetta or
unsmoked bacon in one piece
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 3- to 4-pound chicken, cut
into 6 or 8 pieces
Sea salt and freshly ground
pepper, to taste
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons cognac
4 or 5 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
2 cups dry, full-bodied red wine
2 cups hot chicken broth,
preferably homemade (or
1 10-ounce bag fresh pearl onions,
blanched and peeled* (or
10-ounce package frozen)
18 small white button or cremini
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf
1. Remove the rind from the pancetta. Cut the pancetta into rectangles ¼ inch across and 1 inch long; trim fat.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy Dutch oven. Sauté the pancetta, turning frequently, until golden. (Don’t allow it to burn.) Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.
3. Dry the chicken with paper towels. Add them in one layer to the casserole (you may need to work in two batches); brown on all sides over moderate heat. With a slotted spoon, transfer them to a bowl; season with pepper and just a little salt. (The pancetta is salty.) Drain the fat from the casserole.
4. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the Dutch oven. Add celery, onion, carrot and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently over medium
heat, 7 to 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Stir in the flour, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened. Pour in the cognac and scrape up the brown bits. Return the pancetta to the pot with the chicken, thyme and bay leaves.
5. Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and pour in just enough broth to cover the chicken. Cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, then add the onions and mushrooms; simmer for 15 minutes. Check the chicken; it should be tender but not falling off the bone. Simmer a few minutes longer if needed.
6. Place the chicken and vegetables on a warm, deep serving platter. Cover with foil to keep warm. Remove bay leaves and thyme. Simmer the sauce for a few minutes until it thickens. Pour it over the chicken. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve.
* If you’re using fresh pearl onions, cook them in boiling water for 2 minutes. Rinse with cool water, trim the root end,
and slip off the skins.
BLANQUETTE DE VEAU
Prep time: 10 minutes the day before, 45 minutes on the day of cooking
Cooking time: 1½ hours