. I love to serve this on a cold, wintry night with a big fire burning, good wine, and a few great friends. Buttered noodles or small potatoes are the best accompaniment.
|4||slices||bacon, cut in 6 pieces each|
|5||pounds||chicken breasts, thights, and legs|
|2||teaspoons||freshly ground black pepper|
|1/3||cup||cognac or brandy|
|3||cups||drinking quality red wine|
|2||whole bay leaves|
|1||10-ounce bag||frozen pearl onions, thawed and patted dry|
|1||pound||whole, small brown mushroom***|
|~||Italian flat-leaf parsley, torn for decoration|
|~||fresh thyme for decoration|
|*Use homemade Beef Stock for the best flavor.** Look for tomato paste in a tube at your local supermarket, rather than the canned variety. It has great flavor, allows you to use only what you need, and it keeps well for a long time in the refrigerator.***Substitute white mushrooms – or your favorite exotic variety -- if brown are unavailable at your local market.|
1. Place a large, heavy-bottomed pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and fry the bacon until crisp but not dark. Remove and set aside.
2. Pat the chicken pieces dry and sprinkle them with one teaspoon of the salt and one teaspoon of the pepper.
3. Add the chicken to the pan containing the hot bacon fat and brown it quickly on both sides.
4. Lower the heat to medium-low, add the cognac or brandy, cover with a lid, and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Turn the chicken after 8 minutes.
5. In a medium-mixing bowl, combine the wine, stock, tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaves. Mix well and pour over the chicken.
6. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cover the chicken and continue cooking for 30 minutes or until tender.
7. While the chicken cooks, place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add three tablespoons of the olive oil, 3 tablespoons of the butter, and the brown sugar. Whisk to mix. Add the thawed pearl onions and coat with the mixture. Cook to golden brown. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon and set aside.
8. Add the remaining olive oil and 3 tablespoons of butter. Bring to a sizzle and add the mushrooms. Stir to coat and cook until softened. Remove and set aside.
9. Add to the onions and mushrooms to the chicken and stir.
10. Remove the chicken, mushrooms, and onions from the pan (reserve the cooking juices) and place them in a serving bowl or deep-sided platter.
11. Melt the remaining butter in a medium pan and add the flour. Whisk and cook until light brown. Slowly add two cups of the cooking juices, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.
12. Pour the gravy mixture back into the Dutch oven and mix well. Place over a medium flame and cook, stirring often, until thickened.
13. Pour the gravy over the chicken, sprinkle with the chopped parsley, add several sprigs of thyme, and serve.