French Onion Chicken
The cold weather has me regressing big time back to childhood comfort meals, and this is one of my mother’s more indulgent dishes. If you note the date, it’s actually gorgeous and temperate in Lowell, but it was freezing this morning and I awoke with cream sauce on my mind. As the title suggests, this one’s heavy on the onions, so make sure everyone in the house has it for dinner. There are also mints.
On a chicken note, I recently learned that the FDA considers it safer not to rinse off raw meat before cooking than otherwise, since the splash-back spreads germs around the sink that won’t be killed off by cooking. I wouldn’t buy beef or pork that I thought needed a good scrubbing, but chickens are filthy. If they weren’t so delicious, they’d be considered vermin. While I don’t (yet) use gloves to prepare any food, every time I touch raw chicken, I’m reminded of a scandal back in the early 90’s, when a bunch of chicken plant employees’ hands went numb (I can’t find it anywhere – does anyone else remember that?). Most of us buy prepackaged supermarket chicken, and let’s not pretend it’s not a little slimy when we pull back the plastic. But since we’re saving money by not paying a butcher to clean our meat, we can spare a few minutes to Fantastik the sink and counter. Wash the chicken.
1 cut-up chicken (official pieces)
1 pkg egg noodles
2 yellow onions, sliced into thin rings
1 C white wine
1 C flour
1/2 C heavy cream
4 tbsp butter
salt and pepper
Dredge the chicken in flour to coat the pieces completely. Heat 2 tbsp butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken for 3 minutes on each side, then transfer them to a plate. Add 2 more tbsp butter to the pan, and when it stops foaming, add the onions, and cook them until they caramelize. Put the chicken back into the pan, and add the wine. The liquid level should just cover the chicken; add water if necessary. Preemptively set the oven to 200 and start the water for the noodles. Continue to cook the chicken over medium-high heat for 20 to 25 minutes, adding water as needed to maintain the liquid level. Transfer the chicken to a plate and stick it in the oven to keep it warm.
Your water should be boiling, so throw in the noodles and time according to the directions. Adding 2 tbsp of light olive or vegetable oil to the water will prevent clumping. With the onions still in the pan, scrape any bits off the bottom and cook the liquid over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it’s reduced to 2 or 3 tbsp. Slowly pour in the cream while stirring and mix until even. Fold the chicken pieces back in and turn the heat down to medium for a few minutes before serving over the drained and rinsed egg noodles.
The main flavor comes from the wine, and the difference between a self-proclaimed cooking wine and one that you’d consider drinking is huge. Bad wine renders this inedible. I can’t make a recommendation, as I don’t really drink (and I try, I love the glasses, but I can’t stand how alcohol compromises Diet Coke). Mr. P is our resident oenophile, so I leave such selections to him. My advice is to use the leftovers from a bottle you enjoyed, or just grab something in the $7 range and keep it on hand as your cooking supply.