Sometimes whole meals take shape around one ingredient in my kitchen. For this meal, I was determined to make something using the bottle of balsamic vinegar that I picked up at the market in Liege, Belgium. There were numerous Italian stalls at the market, and after much debate I settled on this bottle of vinegar as a treat to bring home with me. I knew I wanted to use it with chicken, and after searching on epicurious.com for a while I found this recipe, which sounded perfect. The only thing I changed was using boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken. I served it with goat cheese mashed potatoes, and since there was so much beautiful sauce I ended up serving it all on one big serving platter. This tasted like comfort food (great for this last bit of cold weather), but still was nice enough that I would serve it to guests. And the potatoes with goat cheese mixed in were a subtle but flavorful addition. I could use more of these leftovers right about now...
Braised Chicken with Shallots, Garlic, and Balsamic Vinegar
From Gourmet Magazine, October 2001
6 bacon slices (4 oz), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 (3 1/2-lb) chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
1 lb shallots, thinly sliced
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Cook bacon in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain and reserve bacon fat in skillet.
While bacon is cooking, pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Brown, beginning with skin sides down, in 2 batches in bacon fat over moderately high heat, turning, about 8 minutes. Transfer chicken as browned with tongs to a plate and pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet.
Add shallots to skillet and cook over moderately low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft and pale golden, about 10 minutes.
Remove lid and cook shallots, stirring, until deep golden, about 10 minutes more. Add garlic and 1 cup water to skillet and boil, stirring, 1 minute.
Return chicken to skillet, turning pieces to coat, then arrange them skin sides up and gently simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through and garlic is tender, about 30 minutes.
Transfer chicken with tongs to a serving dish. Add vinegar to sauce and boil, uncovered, mashing garlic with back of a spoon, until slightly thickened. Season sauce with salt and pepper and pour over chicken, then sprinkle with bacon.