Reach Into The Magic Recipe Bag…

Last night’s meal was a surprising take on that old standby, chicken.

First off, you should know I never buy cuts of chicken anymore. Not only is it ridiculously cheaper to buy a whole bird, but I like having the guts (no pun intended) to make stock later.

Second, there is just only so much roasted chicken a girl can eat, marvelously easy though it is to make. But what to make instead? DH does not like “girl food”- things with intricate sauces (i.e. anything besides gravy), or dishes with mayonnaise, lots of cheeses, etc. He’s a plain old meat & spuds boy. I needed an idea for something new and different to do with this whole (free-range, organic) chicken that was nicely thawing at the bottom of my fridge. What’s a mama with a napping toddler to do?? Make a coffee and read a cookbook, of course.

So I delved into my Fannie Farmer edition and came up with this little gem, modified to match my spice cupboard:

Vinegar Chicken Saute’

  • a whole fryer (3-5 lbs) chicken, cut into 8 standard parts
  • some unsalted butter*
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup vinegar**, divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • a clove or two of garlic, minced
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • fresh tarragon, chopped, or a teaspoon of dried tarragon***

You will also need

  • A deep skillet with a matching lid, or a skillet with a lid that you fashion out of a pizza pan or a piece of aluminum foil, etc.
  • Tongs, for turning your chicken pieces
  • A platter to put the meat on while you finish the recipe

First, the recipe notes:

*Use unsalted butter. I inherited some salted butter from my mom when she cleaned out her fridge, and it is truly disgusting after eating the unsalted kind all these years. Take ownership of your salt, and apply it yourself. Don’t let someone else dictate how much you should put in your food.

**The original recipe called for red wine vinegar. Not having any on hand, I substituted cider vinegar with satisfactory results. However, red wine vinegar will definitely give this dish a smoother taste. The cider kind made it rather brash, but we like spicey foods and are rather ignorant about culinary finesse, so our untrained tastebuds didn’t care.

***I did not have fresh or dry tarragon, for some reason, so I used dried basil instead. Tasty.

Cut up your chicken as noted, wash and dry the pieces (do NOT use the dishwasher), and lightly season with the salt and pepper. Take about 3-4 T of the unsalted butter, melt it in a skillet over medium-high heat, and then deposit chicken parts within. Brown chicken on all sides for about 10 minutes. Pour in 1/4 cup of vinegar and the water, lid your pan, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for another 15 minutes or so to cook the insides of the meat. Don’t leave it too long, or it will be dry. When the chicken is done (use a meat thermometer to be sure, or cut into the thickest part of the breast meat to check), take it out of the pan and put it on a plate. It would be nice to keep it warm, but I put it back in the pan and heated it up just before serving, and that worked just fine. Back to your pan. Dump in the garlic, simmer it for a minute to get it soft, and then add the rest of the vinegar and another T of butter. Turn up the heat to get it boiling and cook it that way for another minute, until the butter is melted and the sauce is blended nicely. At this point, the recipe says to ladle the “sauce” over the chicken and serve, using the herbs as a garnish. Bah. I put the herbs into the sauce, added the chicken back to the pan, and sashayed everything around for a minute to coat the poultry and heat it up. We don’t do much with sauces around here, barring spaghetti or pizza sauce, as I mentioned earlier.

DH: This is good. A mouthful later: This is really good. Two pieces later: This is really good.

DD1: I don’t like chicken. Can I have more pineapple? Prego?

DD2: Signs “more”. Again. Again. And again.

Mama: Definitely make it again, but maybe I’ll put Red Wine Vinegar on the shopping list and see what the difference is.

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