Friday, November 30, 2012
Crispy Chicken Thighs with Prunes
"Mommy, when you were in Japan, Daddy cooked just like you," said my five-year-old daughter upon my return. I beamed with pride for my husband. You know the stereotype of a helpless father who is bewildered by diapers, laundry, school bus schedules, and dinner? Well, that's not Jason. I didn't return to find my kids eating twinkies for dinner. While I was gone, Jason found the time to make frequent runs to Whole Foods and whip up things like seared tuna with asparagus for dinner and get a product release done at work. Man, this guy is so competent, it scares me a little. Sometimes I am glad he is not home in the mornings when I get kids ready for school. He'd probably laugh at me. "Competent" is the last adjective that describes me when I am dealing with kids. Flustered and perpetually late would be more appropriate.
"Mommy," continued my daughter, "While you were gone, we had Ally and her Dad over for lunch and Daddy made your yummy chicken with prunes. How did he know how to make it?" "Don't you know," I answered, "Daddy is Mr. Incredible," I said with a straight face, but that didn't satisfy her. "Yeah, but how did he know how to cook like you?" she asked persistently trying to solve the mystery of the chicken. I opened my laptop and showed her my blog. "See," I said browsing through posts, "all my recipes are here so that anyone can cook them." "Show me the chicken," said Sammy. Why does everyone in my family needs empirical proof to believe anything? "Well, the chicken is not on the blog yet," I said. "It's a newbie, but I e-mailed the recipe to Daddy from the airport, and conveniently he tested it for me."
Crispy Chicken Thighs with Prunes
This recipe is a combination of Judy Rodgers' early salting technique, Jacques Pepin's cooking technique (the slits near the bone are a brilliant idea), and my Mom's fabulous match of chicken and prunes. Eventually, I found out that my Mom was not the only cook who combined these two ingredients. Chicken Marbella in the Silver Palate cookbook made this combo extremely popular in the US. But this dish never fails to stir sweet childhood memories for me.
If you don't have brandy, the recipe calls for, life will go on, but keep in mind that life with brandy is always better than life without it. And for all you alcohol phobes -- yes, all the alcohol evaporates, so serving it to children and pregnant women is fine.
Serves 2-4 (depending on appetites)
4 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in (about 1.5 Lb)
3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp brandy (or more water)
12 pitted prunes
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp oil (grapeseed, safflower, and canola work the best)
1 garlic clove, peeled
Trimming and Salting (1 hour and up to 3 days before cooking)
Browning the chicken
Making the sauce
Check the temperature inside the thighs with a meat thermometer, making sure you don't hit the bone. If you get 170F or above, the chicken is done. If you get below 170F, add the thighs to the skillet with sauce keeping them skin side up to finish cooking them. Check every couple of minutes and remove back to a plate as soon as they hit 170F.
This technique lends itself beautifully so infinite variations -- mushroom cream sauce, coq au vin, chicken Provencal (tomato herb sauce), etc.
Posted by Helen Rennie at 1:42 PM