I love windy weather. I thoroughly, utterly enjoy windy weather. I find it invigorating. Exhilarating. To me, it feels like coming home. I also love when it rains. Like, really rains. Pours, actually. Kiwis and komodo dragons (because cats and dogs are just too mainstream). Crashing seas, flooding rivers; you get the picture. Hell is breaking loose outside, and you are curled up inside near your heat source of choice, stuffing your face with all things winter. People go into hysterics and you’re all “Well, don’t panic. I’ll get the arc, you get the animals.” I am truly a child of wind and sea.
But then, sometimes, usually when you are on your way to work, planets align, fates collide, and the universe presents you with a magnificent alliance of chances: rain and wind, together.
And man do I hate when that happens. You stand alone on the dark and forsaken city sidewalk, wielding a flimsy pink umbrella (it really ought to be pink, you know), trying – desperately trying – to figure out where the hell to point the thing, as it seems to be raining upward. Water pours into your oh so stylish rain boots, rendering them quite useless, and the laws of physics work against you, preventing you from moving forward much at all. And just like that, standing on the edge of a dramatic cliff with your hair caught in the wind à la Pocahontas, or stuffing your face with all things winter à la Homer Simpson, is quite out of the question. What then, I ask myself, is the point of wind and rain, if one cannot be a blonde Homer-Simpson-shaped Pocahontas?
Alas, it seems the universe has no answer to that.
But I do. The answer is caramelized onions. And Gruyère. Those are really the only two things that can help survive said weather. Or at least recuperate, when all else fails.
Braised French Onion Chicken
Servings: I’d say about 7 or 8, but don’t underestimate the power of this chicken. People will go through it fast. It’s, like, superchicken. I bet it could fly. We should try tossing it out of the window.
Okay, on second thought, that might not be such a good idea.
Prep time: about 2 hours
You will need:
- olive oil
- 1kg onions, sliced into semi circles
- salt and pepper to taste
- thyme and rosemary to taste
- 2 cups (about 500ml) chicken broth, separated
- 1,5 kg boneless, skinless chicken, any cut, cut into filet-like pieces
- 2 tablespoon (30ml) balsamic vinegar
- 4 tablespoon (60ml) Dijon mustard (or any other smooth mustard)
- 200gr (7 oz) Gruyère cheese, grated
Start by just covering the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil.
Add the sliced onions and cook on low heat for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding some water if things get too dry. When the onions turn evenly beige, add some thyme and rosemary to taste.
Cook another few minutes, then turn heat to high and cook until onions turn dark, stirring frequently. At this point, add 1 cup of broth, scrape the pan for all those little burnt bits that are really the best thing ever, and simmer for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, season your chicken with salt and pepper and brown it in a separate pan. Set aside.
Deglaze the chicken-pan with the other cup of broth, and carefully whip in the balsamic vinegar and the mustard. Or you can do what I did, and forget about the fact that you needed to reuse the chicken pan, place said chicken pan in the sink, then remember 10 minutes later that you actually did need the chicken pan, place it back on the fire, then remember that you had already poured soap on the chicken pan, and hastily return the chicken pan to the sink. But that step really is optional.
Now fill the bottom of an oven proof dish with the caramelized onions, making sure to include all those juices we have been carefully producing. Top the onions with the chicken, trying to keep them in a single layer, if possible.
As you can see in this picture, it isn’t always possible.
Pour the balsamic Dijon sauce over the whole thing and cover the dish with a double layer of aluminium foil. Bake on medium-high for 30 minutes.
Remove the dish from the oven, uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Now, the amount of Gruyère you top this with is entirely up to you. You can give it a light sprinkling and keep it healthy. Or – not. You see, this may come as quite a surprise to you, but I truly, honestly, love cheese. I know, you never would’ve known, right? So what I did was grate some Gruyère, top the chicken with it, survey the dish with a dissecting eye, and then double the amount of cheese.
Just right. Now place it back in the oven and give it another 5 minutes on high heat.
It will look entirely too liquid when you remove the dish from the oven, but trust me, this is as it should be, as the sauce will thicken as it cools a bit. And I do recommend you allow it to cool a bit, unless you enjoy having burn-blisters on your tongue.
And yes, I speak from experience.