Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Falling over.


The idea was to celebrate my birthday and the changing of the seasons with a proper fall favourite: a hearty dish combining chicken, sausages, sweet dried prunes and tart apples in a tangy sauce. The kind of thing one enjoys over buttery mashed potatoes with a salad of fall greens. While wearing a sweater.
Nature, however, had other ideas. Instead of a clean crisp fall day, my birthday was a hot and muggy, with a wild wind that blew in like a desert sirocco late in the afternoon. Windows were pulled open, fans positioned and menu revisions pondered. But I was in too deep: I had ridden all the way to Kensington for sausages.

There was no going back.

Chicken with sausage, prunes and apples (adapted from The New Basics cookbook)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cut into ½ inch slices
  • 2 pounds chicken pieces (I’m a leg man, myself)
  • 7 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup chicken stock
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup pitted prunes, halved
  • 10 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 large Granny Smith (or other tart variety) apples, cored, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole or dutch oven, and brown sausage in small batches over medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage and set aside.
  2. Brown the chicken pieces in the casserole until golden, and set them aside with the sausage. Pour off most of the fat. Add 4 1/2 tablespoons of the vinegar to the casserole, and bring to a boil over medium heat, scraping up any brown bits. Then add the stock, wine, bay leaf, thyme and salt and pepper. Cook 1 minute.
  3. Add the prunes and garlic to the casserole, and cook 1 minute. Then return the sausage and chicken, mix them gently with the sauce, and cover the casserole. Transfer it to the oven, and bake for 40 minutes.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken, sausage and prunes to a heated serving platter and keep warm. Add the mustard and the remaining 3 tablespoons vinegar to the casserole and whisk well. Add the apples and cook over medium-low heat until the apples and garlic are just tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Return chicken and sausages to the pot and serve with parsley.

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