150630_jos_lonnie

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I was never going to name chickens again, even promising my husband when we moved from Sonoma that any future chickens would remain “chickens” and I would not anthropomorphize them. Except that naming Cecil, my Sicilian Buttercup rooster, sort of happened. Then twin Crevecoeurs hatched, and one had some white dots and thus became Dottie, so I had to name the other one Billie (older Savannah folks will get this, and I was always very fond of Billie).

Anyway, the Palais du Poulet was built, 45 chickens and 35 guineas called it home, and a type of a poultry party house became one of my favorite hangouts. Never having been around guineas, I quickly learned they are extremely noisy, good watchdogs, great bug and tick eaters, exceedingly hard to train to come back home and they make chickens look smart. What I did already know is they are quite delicious. When living in France, I had guinea in some of the best restaurants. They are starting to become popular here, and their dark, rich meat is excellent.

But guinea is still hard to find in the markets, so the following recipes use the dark meat of chicken. Dark meat is moister, has more flavor than white meat and is somewhat difficult to overcook. Even if you “only” eat the white meat of chicken, venture out, expand your horizons and try these recipes. You might just change your mind.

This is very flavorful and an easy one-pan classic.

Provencal chicken

8 bone-in chicken thighs

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons herbes de Provence (see note)

1 lemon, quartered

8 cloves garlic, peeled

5 medium shallots, peeled and halved

1/3 cup dry vermouth (see note)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and dredge chicken in flour, shaking to remove excess.

Coat the bottom of a large roasting pan with the oil, and arrange the chicken in it. Season chicken with herbs de Provence. Arrange the lemons, garlic cloves and shallots around the chicken, then add vermouth.

Roast in oven for 30 minutes, baste with pan juices. Continue roasting for another 25 to 30 minutes or until the chicken is crisp and the meat is cooked through. Serve from the pan.

Notes: Herbes de Provence is a mixture of several dried herbs and a good thing to have on hand. Alternately, you can use your own mixture, be sure to use several different herbs. Dry vermouth keeps indefinitely and is a great substitute for white wine in a recipe.

What’s in a name chicken thighs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

8 chicken thighs, skin removed

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add thighs and sauté until they just start to brown. Remove from pan.

Add garlic, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar and dark brown sugar to pan, stirring to mix well, then add the chicken thighs. Turn to coat. Add salt and pepper, bring mixture to a simmer, cover and place in oven.

Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken to a warm serving platter, and boil juice down until about 1/2 cup remains.

Add parsley and more salt and pepper, if needed, and spoon sauce over chicken.