People it has been a week. The kind of week that I am pretty sure was actually 2 weeks. Or maybe 3. Or even 4. John left us toward the end of spring break for a conference in China. That was the Wednesday before last. He is still not home. OK, to be fair he gets home tomorrow, but I don’t know it has been a looooong week. I am not sure I ever realized just how much stress it would add to a day to just have a 15 minute window in which the girls could talk to their daddy. Never mind all the rest.
So I guess that is all a rather long winded way of saying ‘scuse the typos, run-ons and general incoherence, folks!
So about this dish–which by the way is the only dish (baking or cooking) I got made while he was gone. Although I have hopes for a cake tomorrow. A girl has gotta welcome her guy home, right? Anyway, this dish started from three places. The first place was a ton of chicken legs–bone-in, drumstick and thigh attached–that my mom needed used because they had been thawed. So I knew I wanted a chicken recipe. The next place was gravitating toward a new cookbook, Janet Mendel’s Cooking from the Heart of Spain. Janet Mendel has several Spanish cookbooks, two of which I own, both of which are terrific. She writes with an ex-pat’s thorough knowledge of a cuisine having lived there for many years, but also has the advantage of being an American and understanding what Americans have access to in the kitchen.
The third and last beginning to this dish was wanting to use one of the fabulous new vinegars I purchased on our trip to D.C. My mother in law took me to this great store, Ah Love Oil & Vinegar, which sells, as the name indicates, artisanal olive oils and vinegars. The kids and I had a blast, trying every single one of the 15-20 each varieties of vinegar and olive oil. My personal favorite of everything I brought home is a lemongrass and mint white balsamic. But I went a different direction with this chicken.
The recipe I started with called for chicken to be braised in a spiced verjus (or verjuice). For those who don’t know, verjus is what results when a vineyard is thinned when the grapes are still quite underripe and thus quite sour. The picked underripe grapes are turned into verjus, a sour liquid used much like vinegar. Because I knew I would not be able to find verjus locally, I skipped immediately to brainstorming and thought of my pomegranate molasses. I mixed that with a white wine vinegar and some of the Ah Love Oil and Vinegar Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar (the Ah Love vinegars are rich and almost syrupy, so using the cheap white wine vinegar was a cost effective way to stretch the more expensive Ah Love vinegar and make it a tad more sour).
The result was a complex, delicious sauce that coated and complemented the browned and braised chicken without overwhelming it. Unlike many spiced braises, this dish did lose a little oomph the next day, so I recommend drizzling a little extra vinegar or lemon juice into it before serving leftovers.
- 4 lbs chicken legs (mine were attached, but you could also use drumsticks and thighs)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 T Spanish extra virgin olive oil
- ½ lb Spanish cured chorizo, sliced into half moons
- 2 large red onions, chopped
- 1½ t ground ginger
- ¼ t Ceylon cinnamon
- ¼ t ground coriander
- pinch of ground cloves
- pinch of allspice
- hefty pinch of ground cumin
- ¼ t saffron threads crushed and soaked in ¼ cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- ⅓ cup Ah Love pomegranate balsamic
- Remaining cup white wine vinegar (see directions)
- ½ cup chicken stock
- Juice of half lemon
- Rinse and dry the chicken pieces. Rub the bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet or Dutch oven with a lid. Brown the chorizo pieces in the oil and then remove with a slotted spoon.
- Add the chicken pieces to the oil and brown on both sides, about 7 minutes per side.
- Remove the chicken pieces to a large bowl. Pour off all but 1-2 tablespoons of oil.
- Add the onions to the pan with a pinch of salt. Also add a splash of white wine vinegar to help scrape up the tasty, browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Sauté the onions, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes, or until softened and starting to brown. Add the ground spices and toss, roasting, for 30 seconds. Add the saffron with the soaking water and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Measure the liquids by pouring the pomegranate balsamic vinegar to the ⅓ cup line in a liquid measuring cup. Add the 2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses into the measuring cup. Then fill with white wine vinegar to the 1-cup measuring line. Add this liquid to the pan, once again scraping the bottom to removed any browned bits stuck to the pan. Add the lemon juice and chicken stock and bring to a boil. When the liquid boils, add the chorizo back into the pan. Then add the chicken pieces, skin side down. Cover tightly and reduce to simmer gently.
- Let simmer for 20 minutes, then flip the chicken pieces over so that they are skin side up. Cover and let simmer gently for 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid, and turn the heat up a bit so that the chicken continues to simmer. Simmer for another 5-15 minutes, until the chicken registers 165 F with a meat thermometer. Serve with potatoes, rice or couscous (I used Israeli couscous).
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