I thought if there was ever a recipe with chicken thighs in it that Reg would like, it would be this one by Anne Burrell from her new cookbook Cook Like a Rockstar published by Random House of Canada. Chicken, mushrooms, herbs, wine… What is not to like?
I got a fantastic deal on skinless, boneless chicken thighs and thought, what the heck? Let’s give cooking with this ingredient one last shot. Chicken breasts are expensive and if I can make Reg like this dinner, maybe we can save money and still eat like rock stars?
You need to toast 1/2 cup of blanched almonds and puree them in a food processor. I used my mini chopper. You are supposed to use whole almonds but I had slivered so that is what I went with. Once they are ground, add some olive oil to make a loose paste. Season with salt and reserve.
Chef Burrell says to use “8 chicken thighs” but does not specify if they should have skin or bones or… well, not. I assumed that because with skin and bones is the chef-y way to make chicken, I just dredged mine in flour after seasoning them to give them a fake skin. I also braised them for less time to make up for the boneless issue.
As instructed, I browned them in olive oil in a hot pan, 5 to 7 minutes per side. I removed them from the pan.
This was the hard part of the recipe. Cleaning 2 pounds of assorted mushrooms and then slicing them all! Now I did not weigh those mushrooms but if that wasn’t enough, I don’t care. I could not do anymore. This not only took forever but mushrooms are expensive.
You also need to dice 2 onions into 1/4″ dice and have 2 garlic cloves finely chopped. As usual I used shallots instead of onions.
If you used skin-on chicken thighs then ditch the oil, lower heat and add a splash of olive oil to the pan. If your pan stays hot like mine always does, I tip the oil to the side and then add my shallots/onions to prevent them from burning. Season with salt and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Well I used red pepper flakes. Did she mean cayenne pepper?
Because shallots cook much faster than onions I quickly added the garlic and cooked for a minute or two.
Then I added all those mushrooms and seasoned with salt, cooked them until soft and aromatic in about 5 minutes.
I added 1 cup of dry white wine and let it reduce by half, around 3 minutes.
I returned the chicken to the pan and added enough chicken stock to almost cover the chicken, around 3 to 4 cups. I added a bundle of thyme and 2 bay leaves.
I brought to a boil, reduced to a simmer and cooked for 20 minutes. If you are using bone-in chicken. Cook for 30 minutes.
I removed the chicken from the pan and discarded the bundle of thyme and the bay leaves. I stirred in the almond puree and seasoned a little more. I brought it to a boil and reduced to a simmer until thickened.
I served the chicken with the sauce on top of rice. I have to say while I was cooking this dish, it really felt like a chef’s recipe. It took some time, required bundling herbs with butcher’s twine, used wine… but it was flat. And boring! Worst of all, Reg cringed at the sight of it. The dark meat immediately turned him off and the flavour did anything but wow him. He did not even finish eating it!
As a result, I ended up eating this dish for days because there was so much leftover. I feel like I was missing something. Anne Burrell writes, “It’s definitely one of the best recipes I have ever come up with” and I trust her but I totally disagree. Her killer mac & cheese eviscerated this dish. I actually like dark meat but this dish was so basic, I was bored.
Sadly, I can only give this recipe a very weak three out of five wooden spoons for those who like dark meat. It was a lot of work and time for something that tasted very basic. What a shame! Guess it is cooking with chicken breasts from now on, forever for me… How exciting…