Since this week is our 2nd Bloggerversary, we're giving you two recipes for double the French bistro pleasure!
Chicken with Vinegar & Onions, Warm French Lentil Salad with Smoked Sausage
I was trying to decide which was my favorite season and like with most things, I couldn't decide. I'm such a "in-the-moment" kind of girl that I end up loving whatever season it is. Right now, I'm loving Fall.
It's been very pleasant so far here in the Bay Area (I know, don't be too jealous of us temperate-weather folks). Not too hot and not too cold. Just cool enough that I can bake and I can make stewy/braise-y things without cursing the heat of the kitchen. Cool enough that I can drink my hot teas and yet not so cold that I can make es teler just the other weekend for some friends.
Anyway, today turned out to be a foggy, slightly rainy Fall day. Just perfect to curl up with something warm and filling and comforting.
Time to Cook Some Lentils
I've been wanting to try this recipe out of my Fine Cooking magazine called Warm French Lentil Salad with Smoked Sausage. I had bought French Lentils a month or so back in anticipation of making it but the weather just stayed warm and didn't beckon me to make this. Yesterday, I decided the time had come.
So I looked up the recipe (which was on the back of the issue) and then out of curiousity, I flipped to the inside pages where they have menu ideas for meals from that issue and lo, and behold, the lentils were paired with another French Bistro dish, Chicken with Vinegar and Onions (Poulet au Vinaigre).
Now, I had almost all the ingredients for both dishes excepting Italian Flat Leaf Parsley and Green Onions (which I easily acquired from my nearby grocery store). So I was set to go.
But First, a Detour to the ER
Then this morning, I got out all the ingredients I needed and prepped some, and then a little incident involving kimchi jigae landed me in the ER for most of the morning and afternoon. If you really need to know the whole story....
I developed chest pains last night while working out at the gym and the pains stayed with me through the night into today. It warranted enough concern with the doctors that they told me to come in to the ER right away. They then gave me a whole battery of tests (EKG, chest x-ray, blood test, treadmill test).
Fortunately, everything checked out, and they sent me home telling me...to take an antacid (yes, this is where the kimchi jigae comes in--I had eaten a big helping of it before heading to the gym last night!).
Sheesh! That was 5 hours of my time, people! But I guess better safe than sorry. Anyway, I'm glad my visions of lettuce- and oatmeal-eating days to come didn't come to pass.
Back to Cooking
So anyhow, by the time I got home, I was starving and wanting chicken. I wasted no time and got right down to cooking. Thankfully, both dishes were reasonably easy to make.
Warm French Lentil Salad with Smoked Sausage
adapted from Fine Cooking magazine, March 2007
1 1/2 cups French green lentils (about 10 oz) - I used almost 12 oz (cuz that's what I had and I didn't want less than 2oz left)
3 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, smashed (I used 4, cuz I can't reek enough)
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
1 small onion, peeled
1 small carrot, peeled and split lengthwise
8 oz smoked sausage, such as kielbasa
1 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions (3-4 green onions)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar; more as needed
2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp walnut oil (I just used more EVOO)
1. Pick over and rinse the lentils.
2. Place the thyme, bay leaves, garlic and peppercorns in a cheesecloth bag (or get thee some of those nifty Japanese stock pouch bags from Daiso or its equivalent) and make a bouquet garni.
3. Put the lentils, sachet of aromatics, and the onion and carrot in a 3- to 4-qt. saucepan. Fill the pan with cold water to cover the lentils by about 2 inches, and bring to a boil over med-high heat.
French Lentils, Onion, Carrot, and Bouquet Garni
4. Immediately lower to a gentle simmer--boiling can break the lentils--and simmer, uncovered, until just tender, 30-40 mins. (If water level drops below the surface of lentils, just add a little more water.)
5. Meanwhile, put the sausage in a small saucepan or deep skillet. Add the wine and enough water to cover by about 1/2 inch. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat as needed to cook at a bare simmer, uncovered, about 15-20 mins. Drain sausage and slice into 1/4 inch rounds.
6. While the lentils and sausage cook, make the vinaigrette: Whisk 1 1/2 Tbsp of the vinegar with the mustard and a pinch of salt. In a steady stream, whisk in the olive and walnut oils. Season to taste with salt.
7. Drain the lentils, discarding the herb pouch, carrot and onion. Transfer to a large bowl and add 1 tsp salt and the remaining 1 Tbsp vinegar, tossing to coat (make sure to do this while the lentils are warm to get maximum absorption).
8. Add the sausage and vinaigrette to the lentils, tossing to coat. Stir in the parsley and green onions, and season with a generous amount of black pepper, plus more salt and vinegar to taste.
Dressing the French Lentil and Sausage Salad
Chicken with Vinegar and Onions (Poulet au Vinaigre)
adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, March 2007, p 37.
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 med-small yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 2 1/2 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp Champagne vinegar
1 4-lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces (I used 10 young chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on, or you could use a mix of thighs and legs to get about 4lbs)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinos Gris (I ended up using about 3/4-1 cup)
2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon leaves (I used Italian flat-leaf parsley)
2 Tbsp creme fraiche (I used heavy cream)
1. In a 12-inch skillet, melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with a couple of big pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and stir to coat the onions.
2. Cover, reduce heat to med-low, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and lightly browned, about 20-25 mins. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Add 1 Tbsp (I added 2) of the vinegar and stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour the vinegar into the onions and set aside (it completely evaporated on me so I just scraped the dried bits up).
4. If using chicken parts, cut each breast crosswise into two equal-size portions and trim any excess fat or skin from the thighs. Rinse and pat dry.
5. Spread the flour in a pie plate, and season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
6. Set the skillet over med-high heat and add the olive oil and the remaining 1 Tbsp butter. While the butter melts, dredge half of the seasoned chicken pieces in the flour, shaking off the excess. Set them skin side down in the skillet. Brown, turning once, until the skin is crisp and the chicken is evenly browned, 6-8 mins total. Transfer chicken to platter and repeat with remaining chicken.
Chicken Browning in Pan
7. When all the chicken is browned, pour off all of the fat. Return the skillet to med-high heat, add the wine, and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dissolve the drippings.
8. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of vinegar, the sauteed onions, and 1 tsp of the tarragon.
9. Return the chicken pieces, skin side up, to the skillet, arranging them in a single snug layer. Partially cover, leaving a small gap for the steam to escape, and lower the heat to maintain a low simmer. Continue to simmer gently, turning every 10 mins, until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 30 mins total.
10. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Increase the heat to a more rapid simmer, and stir in the creme fraiche (or cream); the sauce may appear broken at first, but it will come together.
11. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the remaining tarragon (or parsley) and spoon over the chicken to serve.
Chicken with Vinegar & Onions, Warm French Lentil Salad with Smoked Sausage
The chicken dish was simply delicious. The onions and vinegar is a wonderful combo (almost like a Chinese sweet sour combo) and when paired with a little cream to balance it out, I wanted to ladle that sauce straight down my throat.
But the surprise was the lentils. That salad was a beauty and so flavorful. The French lentils held their shape and the flavor was sweet, savory and earthy all at the same time. The Dijon mustard in the dressing played nicely with the red-wine vinegar and sausage. Nate could not stop eating this and preferred this over the chicken (I cannot take sides, they were both equally good to me).
But if you did want to just make one dish, they would both be good on their own with some crusty bread. So I hope you will try them both out together or on its own.
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