Sunday Dinner: Provençale Braised Chicken Thighs

I’ve been utterly immersed in the new book, My Berlin Kitchen, by Luisa Weiss, creator of the popular Wednesday Chef blog.  So immersed, in fact, that I tried to comment on her blog yesterday because not only did she make me laugh out loud several times, but I felt a strange kinship with all the random commonalities that we share.  Her comments were “closed” (which I don’t understand at all) so I thought I’d tell you all about it instead and then urge you to get this book.  It’s a real charmer.

1.  We both have mothers that would rather do anything else, for my mother that’s reading, than cook. Mine, too, thinks I’m a little weird and actually once suggested, many years ago outside a Vancouver hotel, therapy.  Food therapy that is.

2.  We both learned the hard way that living in Paris is not quite as magical as visiting Paris.  It can be a very lonely place, wandering those lovely streets by oneself.

3.  My dad, like Luisa’s, calls me sometimes just to tell me what he had for dinner.

4.  An only child like Luisa, I also lived with my dad after my parents divorced, which was highly unusual at the time.

5.  We both started our blogs cooking for enthusiastic eaters named Sam.

I’m only a third of the way through this book.  I know that one major thing we do not have in common is a love for Berlin. I’ve been there once. It was nice but I don’t see myself going back.  Now that I’ve reached that section of the book, the one in which she returns to Berlin, I do, in fact, want to go back.  Her descriptions of its leafy boulevards, chirping birds, friendly green markets and even the iciest of icy winters are absolutely intoxicating. I’d like to know her Berlin.  It makes for mighty entertaining reading here on this chilly fall afternoon (the one in which I’ve played hooky to read all day!)

What I do also love about her Berlin descriptions, though, is that for her, it’s home.  And while I doubt many people are clamoring to move over here to the Mitten State, for me it’s home, and Luisa’s musings on Berlin drive that point, well, home.

You should really read it.  Then try one of her recipes, or two.

I did and it’s certainly worth posting.

Provençale Braised Chicken Thighs

Serves 4, adapted from My Berlin Kitchen, Luisa Weiss.

I added the roasted zucchini, mainly because it was meant to be a side dish and I ended up throwing it in at the last minute.  I liked it.  Luisa uses a whole cut up chicken but I wanted my pieces more uniform and since thighs are inexpensive and braise well, I went that route instead.

  • 3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 12 oil-cured black olives, chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • flour
  • 1 tsp. Herbes de Provence
  • coarse salt and black pepper
  • 2 medium zucchini, roasted (optional)

1. If using the roasted zucchini, preheat oven to 425°.  Dice zucchini into 1/2″ pieces and spread on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 20-30 minutes, keeping a close eye to avoid burning.

2. Add 2 tbsp. olive to dutch oven or large skillet and heat over medium heat.  If using a dutch oven, only add half the oil and brown your chicken in two batches.  Add the second half of the oil for the second batch.

3. Prepare the thighs by trimming off excess fat and drying with paper towels.  Place flour (about 1/4-1/2 cup) in a wide shallow bowl.  Pass chicken through the flour, shake off excess, then season on one side with salt, pepper and herbes de provence.

4. Place chicken in pot with seasoned side down.  Now season the top pieces with salt, pepper and herbes.   Brown for about 4 minutes per side.  Turn down heat if they seem to be burning.  Remove to a plate.

5. Reduce heat and add minced shallots.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until golden.  Add wine and allow to reduce to half, about 5 minutes.

6. Add tomatoes, chopped olives and minced garlic.  Add chicken back to pot and stir.  Cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes or until chicken is done.

7.  Add the roasted zucchini, chopped parsley (and/or basil) and stir.  Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

S and I had this for Sunday dinner, which has been quite an affair of late, usually yielding us at least another serving each for lunch.  I’m just sayin’, it makes Mondays (and freshman boys)  a whole lot easier to endure when there’s something homemade waiting for me in the teachers’ lounge.

Look out for more Sunday Dinner features.  We have been eating so well chez nous.

And now for a random photo of Provence.  Pourquoi pas?

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About Liza M.

foodie, francophile, Ann Arborite, teacher, bookworm and self-professed latte-lover--come cook with me!
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13 Responses to Sunday Dinner: Provençale Braised Chicken Thighs

  1. Sammy says:

    OMG this was delicious–especially over the mashed potatoes. It was a perfect fall meal and I think the dark meat chicken is the only way to go.

  2. Barb says:

    Looks fabulous. Yum! Looking forward to a bit of cooking on Thursday!

  3. Liza M. says:

    Me too Barb! Ready for yet another “braised chicken thigh” experiment!

  4. Wendy says:

    looks fabulous! love the comments about the book you’re reading. Being your Berlin travel buddy I must agree, loved the city but don’t necessarily need to go back though it did seem like a pretty hip place to be.

    • Liza M. says:

      Well now that I’ve reached the actual Berlin section of her book, she has made it sound so appealing that I indeed do want to go back, in fact. You simply MUST put this in your queue at the library. This is one of my favorite reads in a long time! Did you see that David Lebovitz also wrote a post about her when he made her plum cake recently?

  5. La Torontoise says:

    Liza, which village is this (I mean the random photo”)? If you drive sur l’autoroute du Soleil between Lyon and Avignon, you would pass by many villages like this:-) all are so inviting for a stroll

    Last weekend I started reading the 15 Minute meals of Jamie Oliver. It’s an interesting concept, but I can not say much as I read 15 pages only. However, I found a video on his site that gave in detail a complete 30 min meal ( he published the 30 min idea before his 15 min book).
    Of course, the first time it could never be 30 min long (as I had to spend some time on thinking/rethinking of what to do next in the process, plus I did not have handy all the ingredients), but I learnt a lot and the result was inspiring. The meal included: veg lasagne, Tuscan tomato salad and quick mango frozen yoghurt.

    Here is the link to the video, just in case you feel interested in e 30 min idea:

    http://cooking1o1.blogspot.nl/2011/04/jamie-30-minute-meals-s01e16-summer-veg.html
    From here, you get a reliable access to a video on youtube (the youtube link itself looks like a bit user-unfriendly, so I do nit post it directly).

    On my way from Chicago to the Netherlands, I read the Oct issue of Bon Appetit, and there is a long list of 26 ”sweet” recipes. The one that looked ‘bien provencale’ stick in my mind and I tried it out yesterday. It’s the Olive Oil Cake with Candied Oranges on top. The recipe is below:

    http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/06/olive-oil-cake-with-candied-orange

    I used organic ingredients whereever possible. It blew my mind!

    • Liza M. says:

      Funny this is, I’d have to look at a map to see which village it is. We were not exactly lost at the time, in the Dentelles, not far from our rental house in Sablet, but weren’t on the road that we intended to take. The views were absolutely stunning so it was a detour we did not mind taking. I didn’t know Jamie had the 30 minute idea. Here in the US, it was Rachael Ray who pioneered the 30 minute meals. She was my first Food Network inspiration. I still like her food though she is highly overexposed these days! I’ll have to check out that Olive Oil Cake. Somehow I missed it in that issue.

      • La Torontoise says:

        Lisa, getting off the intended road has always been the kind of my most rewarding experiences in the South of France! I look forward to the Christmas school vacation and to my next tour, I can hardly wait…

        Last week, I was for two days in Berlin on a business trip, the Wednesday Cheff is ‘en vogue’ and I got a closer look at it. Will buy my own copy…

  6. Amy says:

    Hey Liza, so I’ve read your post as well now. 🙂 This recipe was the one I’ve been wanting to try the most from her book! I’m glad you made it, and that you’ve reported that it’s great. And I have to say, I love your blog! Provence may just be my favorite place in the world (my “about me” picture is set in Arles), and I have dreams about living there one day–don’t we all? Anyway, love the things you’ve been posting and I hope to keep up in the future.

    • Liza M. says:

      Thanks Amy! I think anyone who’s been to Provence keeps a little bit of it with them no matter where they are. Don’t you? I’ve been enjoying your blog for a while now too (anonymously until I read your post on Luisa!). By the way, I just finished the book this morning, but since I checked it out of the library, I’m heading to Barnes & Noble this afternoon to by my own copy. It’s a book I need to have near me, in my collection, at all times.

  7. Megan says:

    This is a fantastic recipe! i actually struggle more finding chicken breasts here in norway than chicken thighs so i am always looking for a way to make chicken thighs creatively. needless to say i dont get far 😉

    hopefully i can test this one out sometime! hope you have a great weekend!

    • Liza M. says:

      I’m a big fan of the chicken breast, I admit, but when it comes to braising, there’s nothing like the chicken thigh. I actually did a similar version, but Alsation-style a few days later. I’ll get that one up soon! Let me know if you like it if you do end up testing it. Thanks for the positive comment!

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