Thursday, May 3, 2012

Chicken Braised with Lemon Slices and Moscato

Sense of Home Kitchen

Braised Chicken with Lemon Slices and Moscato
~Sense of Home Kitchen~

This recipe was inspired by a recipe I found in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, by Judy Rodgers.  I would love to eat at her Cafe some day, I have learned so much from reading her cookbook and it is my hope that she is busy working on a second book.

The contrast of sweet Moscato wine with lemons in this recipe is fantastic and your house will smell wonderful. Braising is done at a lower temperature than roasting, and for a longer cooking time, allowing the flavors to develop.

Start with a very good chicken, preferably locally raised.  The chickens we helped butcher have been some of the most flavorful chicken we have ever had, we attribute this to the natural way they were raised.

Serves 4 to 6

1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt, more to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion (ends trimmed, peeled and cut into wedges)
3 shallots (peeled and cut in half)
1 1/2 cups Moscato
2 tablespoons dry Sherry
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried lemon thyme
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, cracked slightly in a mortar
15 to 20 dehydrated lemon slices

Sprinkle the whole chicken with 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.  This seasoning hours before braising brings out the full rich flavor of the chicken and is based on the cooking methods of Judy Rodgers from the famous Zuni Cafe.

Place dried lemon slices in a bowl and pour moscato over the top, let soak for at least 30 minutes to plump up the lemons and infuse the wine.  Reserve both.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Pat the chicken dry to prevent sticking to the pan.  Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, add chicken and cook until the skin is evenly golden, turning chicken and adjusting the heat as needed.

Place chicken in an oven-proof baking dish and tie the legs with kitchen string to keep them together.  Place onion and shallot wedges around the bird.  Drain lemon slices, reserving both the moscato and lemons.  Add the lemon infused moscato, sherry and chicken stock to the baking dish making sure the liquid only comes to a depth of approximately 1-inch.  Add bay leaf to the dish and sprinkle chicken with thyme and cracked peppercorns.  Place moscato soaked lemons on, in and around the bird.

Although the braising pan is normally covered tightly, leave the chicken uncovered and place in preheated oven, basting three or four times throughout the cooking process, pouring juices over the charred lemons to infuse the broth and chicken with the wonderful flavor.  Braise for approximately 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender and juices run clear between the leg and thigh or the thigh temperature is 165° when tested with a meat thermometer.

Remove from the oven and let rest while you pour the juices from the baking dish into a saucepan.  Skim as much fat off the top as you can remove and place the saucepan over medium-high heat and boil until the sauce reduces and thickens, making a fabulously rich tasting sauce.

Serve chicken with sauce on the side.

Sense of Home Kitchen / Recipes / Poultry