San Francisco has almost perfect weather year round for braising. When it’s chilly and foggy out and I want something tasty, yummy and comforting to eat, I braise. Braising is a classic moist heat cooking method that crosses cultures. I love braising boneless skinless chicken thighs for a couple of reasons. It’s fast, open to endless variations, reheats exceptionally well, is tasty and did I mention it’s fast?
This weekend, with rosemary fresh from my San Francisco herb garden and Nicoise olives in the fridge I decided to do a Nicoise style dish with chicken thighs. I added a strip of orange zest for a warm Mediterranean feeling. I included some baby fingerling potatoes from the Stonestown farmer’s market and got to work. You could easily add sundried tomatoes to this dish or roasted peppers. Either would be delicious. It was completed in an hour.
Nicoise Style Braised Chicken Thighs
3 slices prosciutto or pancetta, diced (optional)
1 carrot, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 ½# boneless, skinless chicken thighs
½ cup flour for dredging the chicken thighs
1 Tbsp. Chopped Rosemary
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup of white wine
(1) 2” long strip of orange zest
1 cup of chicken stock
½ # new potatoes or fingerling potatoes, halved
½ cup mixed green and black olives (pits removed)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
- Trim the chicken thighs of excess fat, season with salt and pepper and dredge in flour.
- Heat a tablespoon or two oil in a wide saute pan with high sides. Brown the chicken thighs in the oil, remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the prosciutto if using, carrot and onion to the pan and allow to brown slightly.
- Add the garlic to the pan and saute until aromatic.
- Deglaze with white wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add the rosemary and orange zest to the pan along with the chicken thighs.
- Add the chicken stock and potatoes and bring up to a simmer.
- Cover and simmer until the chicken and potatoes are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Rinse the olives of excess salt or brine and add to the chicken.
- 10. Taste the sauce for seasoning and enjoy.
I’m sitting here at my mom’s desk in Winslow, Maine, right now, trying to figure out the ins and outs of her laptop. It’s always interesting working on an unfamiliar computer. My daughter, Lily and I took the trip across the US together. It was much more intense to travel with a 16 month old than I anticipated. (I thought she would sleep! But no. The world is a large and exciting place and much too interesting to even think about sleeping!) I was a little surprised that Airport security asked me to take off Lily’s shoes. I’m thankful that she is too young for a belt wearing/jewelry wearing etc.
Maine is lovely—very quiet, peaceful and relaxing. The shops are closed by 8pm and you can’t find an ice cream joint open after 9pm. (We tried.) It is really life in the slow(er) land and a welcome change from the hectic and frenetic pace of life in the Bay area. I wish that I could stay here for a few more days! Lily and I are here to set up for our longer visit at the end of the month(and to see Grandma, my mom who we both miss!) Lily, Pete and I will be spending the 4th of July at our family camp on Pattee pond with my best friend, her beau and her two year old son. This weekend has been a whirlwind of naps, antique-ing, lobster eating and garage sale-ing. This morning we went to the Fairfield antique mall, the largest single antique mall in the state. It boasts 5 floors of antiques and is a dangerous place for me to shop. I love collecting 1960’s California pottery and vintage glass ware and serving pieces. It’s only a few minutes from our house. It is much less expensive here than in California. Actually, it’s really cheap. I like vintage pyrex too. So, maybe you can understand how I ended up with two boxes to ship home.
We’ve stopped at B and F vegetable and fish stand on China Road almost everyday. They have wonderful, fresh seafood and fantastic local fruit, vegetables and products such as whoopee pies, sour cream and grass fed beef. The sweet corn was fabulous. So good I had two ears without butter or salt and it inspired me to make a corn chowder. A Chowder is a type of soup or stew that is indigenous to New England. To be classified as a chowder you need three specific ingredients: bacon or salt pork, potatoes and a dairy product such as cream or milk. Manhattan Chowder has tomatoes in it and a true Northern New Englander doesn’t consider this to be classic chowder. Boudin Bakery based in San Francisco has made serving chowder in a sour dough bowl fashionable. Although chowder typically contains seafood, there are vegetable versions available. I love a sweet corn chowder that has corn so fresh and sweet the kernels literally pop in your mouth. No overcooked, freezer burned corn here! It should be laced with smoky bacon, and swirled with a little cream at the end to give it richness and weight in your mouth.
I adapted this recipe very loosely from one in Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. Enjoy! May your summer be sweet!
Corn and Bacon Chowder
8 oz Bacon
2 Tbsp Butter
1 large onion, small dice
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
½ c. flour
6 ears of corn, kernels cut off of the cob (about 6 cups)
6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1 # of potatoes, peeled, small dice
1 ½ cups of half and half or heavy cream
Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium heat, add the bacon, render the fat and continue to cook the bacon until it is crisp. Once the bacon is crisp, remove it from the pan and add the onion and garlic to the fat in the pan. Turn the heat down a little and slowly cook the onions until they are translucent. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir to make a roux. Cook for a few minutes, until the flour is pasty. Slowly, stirring constantly, add the stock or water. Bring this mixture to a boil and add the potatoes. Simmer until the potatoes are just tender, then add the corn. Simmer for 5-8 minutes, until the kernels are just cooked and the potatoes are tender. Finish the soup with the half and half, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the chowder in bowls garnished with crispy bacon.