Red Wine Braised Chicken Thighs
This dish is based on the classic French dish, Coq Au Vin, and while not quite true to the famous original, it makes an easy, do-ahead entree for a casual dinner party. The classic dish involves reducing the braising liquid considerably, then thickening it with a beurre manié (a kneaded mixture of equal parts butter and flour). This version takes a few shortcuts but still delivers rich, full flavors. Be sure to see our side dish suggestions in the recipe notes.
- 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup flour, divided
- 6 strips thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 lb crimini or white button mushrooms, stem on, cut in quarters
- 8 to 10 ounces pearl onions, peeled
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups dry red wine (Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon)
- 2/3 to 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray a roasting pan that's several inches deep and large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer with nonstick spray and set aside.
Trim any excess fat from the chicken thighs and season each side with salt and freshly ground pepper. Scatter 2 tablespoons of the flour on a sheet of wax paper, lightly dredge the chicken thighs and set aside.
In a large pan over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon leaving about 3 tablespoons of the drippings in the pan. Add the chicken pieces and brown them lightly, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a dish and set aside.
Add the mushrooms to the pan and sauté them over medium heat for about 6 to 7 minutes, until the liquid evaporates and they begin to brown. Add the pearl onions and continue cooking until they begin browning as well, about 5 more minutes. Season well with salt and pepper. Transfer the mushrooms and onions to the prepared roasting pan, top them with the chicken pieces and set aside.
Melt the butter in the pan over medium heat, add the chopped onions and sauté until softened and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to let the garlic brown. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper, then sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons flour over the onion-garlic mixture. Combine well and continue cooking until the flour turns a pale golden color, about 2 minutes.
Slowly add the red wine and 2/3 cup of chicken broth to the pan, stirring to combine. Raise the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil for about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the tomato paste. Add the cooked bacon, fresh thyme, bay leaves and dried oregano, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding a little extra chicken broth if needed. Remove the bay leaves and discard.
Pour the sauce evenly over the chicken in the roasting pan. Cover tightly with foil and bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 35 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, top with chopped fresh parsley and spoon any remaining sauce on top.
Makes 6 servings
To peel pearl onions easily, immerse them in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, then plunge them into ice water for an additional 2 minutes. Drain and cut off the root end of the onion and squeeze gently from the opposite end. The onion should slip out of its skin fairly easily.