Guest post: French in the house

Dear Life, please stop getting in the way of the important stuff, like, I don’t know, posting my blogs! I have a triple jillion written and half written posts, but it seems, every time I’m about to upload, you get in the way Life, and the blog stays silent for days, even weeks at a time. So come on noq, ease up a wee why don’t you.

Today’s post is a guest cooking challenge post (that’s been sitting in my inbox for about a month now!) by my partner in Life: Big Ring. Which means, November had two cooking challenges (I’ve still got to post mine). So enjoy 😀
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November 22, 2013
Cook’s Country – December/January issue
Chicken With Vinegar Sauce

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In the Big Ring/Princess of Pavement household, I do most of the cooking.
Partly because PofP isn’t very comfortable with the culinary arts; her diet before we got together consisted mostly of eggs, eggs and eggs. And partly because, with her long commute, it just makes sense for me to get things going in the kitchen.
Fortunately a long run of self-sustaining bachelordom meant I pretty much had to figure my way in the kitchen. Or starve.

Big Ring cuisine isn’t very fancy; lots of grilling with occasional forays into stir fry, omelettes, and international dishes like paella and butter chicken. I don’t do recipes.

Then PofP took on her year-long recipe challenge. She wanted to explore the pages of the America’s Test Kitchen recipe magazine subscription she’d received as a Christmas present and expand her own culinary horizons. I was glad to be the beneficiary. I got a break from the kitchen and enjoyed some very tasty meals.

This month, I decided to pick up the challenge. The latest issue had a number of recipes that tickled my taste buds and sounded relatively easy. When one, chicken in vinegar sauce, was billed as a classic French dish, I was sold. If we can’t live in France, we might as well eat as if we are.

It also helped that we already had most of the necessary ingredients in the pantry.

Now going in, I’ll admit to some trepidation to basing a sauce on vinegar. Around here we use it to clean the counter tops and stainless steel. And the apple cider vinegar in our pantry was only there because of the fruit fly infestation we endured in the summer; it was the lure to attract them into the sticky trap.
But if it’s good enough for the French, it should be good enough for us.

And, son of a gun, it was.

Poulet au vinaigre
1 tsp cornstarch
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
chicken pieces (the recipe calls for bone-in, but I trimmed the bone from the breasts I bought for the recipe challenge)
salt & pepper to taste
2 tsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
1 shallot, minced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon (I used the dried stuff)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees with the rack in the middle
2. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 tbsp of the chicken broth in a 2-cup measuring cup. Whisk in vinegar, honey and remaining broth.
3. Heat oil in an oven safe 12-inch skillet until its just smoking. Place the chicken pieces in the skillet, skin side down. Cook until well-browned, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a plate skin side up.
4. Pour off all but 1 tbsp of the fat from the chicken and return the skillet to medium high heat, Add the shallot and garlic, cooking for about 30 seconds. Whisk in the broth mixture and bring to a boil, stirring up any brown bits from the chicken in the pan.
5. Return the chicken to the skillet, skin side up, then put the skillet into the oven.
6. Bake for about 10-15 minutes.
7. Remove chicken from the skillet to a plate, then tent it loosely with aluminum foil. Return the skillet to the stove top at medium high heat and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 5-7 minutes.
8. Remove the skillet from the heat and whisk in the butter and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
9. Spoon the sauce over the chicken pieces and serve.

I steamed some broccoli as a side dish, along with toasty baguette and glass of white wine. Vive le France!

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