chicken with chanterelles and pearl onions

Sunday night, along with roasted stuffed onions and that apple tart for dessert, I made Martha Stewart’s Silky Braised Chicken with Wild Mushrooms and Pearl Onions for my family when they came over for dinner. But if you want to know if it was any good, you’ll have a hard time getting a straight answer. I thought it was dry and could barely eat three bites of it. Everyone else didn’t mind, and even called it delicious. Then again, they may have just been polite.

tiny red onions

I’ve come to the realization that there are some recipes I would rather never write up. Here it is Friday night, five days after I made this chicken dish and I would still rather do Molly’s dishes than talk about chicken. Five days! Five days in which I have updated daily. Five days in which I decided I’d rather cook and write up something entirely new than get to that forsaken recipe. I am that ambivalent about it.

 braised chicken

Thus, I have nothing objective for you to take away. I suppose if you’re into chicken braised slowly in a mix of onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, wine and chicken stock, then split, skinned, slathered in Dijon, thyme and wrapped in bacon then pan fried, you’d probably love this. If you’re dead inside, like me, you might fail to see its charm. Ho-hum, right?

But there is one thing that absolutely everyone in the room agreed on: chanterelles and baby red onions sauteed in butter with a glug of sherry is a very good thing. A ‘if I see you going for that last mushroom, I might swat your fork off and grab it myself’ kind of thing. A ‘why couldn’t I just eat this for dinner instead’ kind of thing? A ‘well tomorrow night, I just might’ kind of thing.

But don’t worry–I’ll still get to those (awesome) cookies. Oh, and maybe some food photography tips. Or Q&A! Stick around people, this yawning post will be old news in no time.

 braised chicken with chanterelles and pearl onions

One Year Ago:
Cream of Tomato Soup, Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Silky Braised Chicken with Wild Mushrooms and Pearl Onions
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Serves 4

1 chicken (3 1/2 pounds), cut into 8 pieces, skin on
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium onions, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
2 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
40 sprigs fresh thyme, 3 to 4 bunches
2 dried bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 cups Riesling wine
1 1/2 cups Homemade Chicken Stock, or low-sodium canned chicken broth, skimmed of fat
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 ounces red pearl onions, peeled and halved (about 1 cup)
1/2 pound fresh wild mushrooms, such as chanterelle, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup Madeira wine
5 teaspoons grainy mustard
10 strips best-quality bacon

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper.

Spread a third of the onion slices and all the garlic in the bottom of a 7-quart ovenproof casserole or Dutch oven. Scatter 5 sprigs thyme, 1 bay leaf, and 1 rosemary sprig over the onion layer. Lay half the chicken pieces on top of the herb layer. Repeat with another third of the onion slices, the same amounts of each of the herbs as before, and the remaining chicken pieces; finish with a layer of all the remaining onion slices. Pour Riesling and chicken stock over onions and chicken. Cover casserole, and place in the oven to cook until chicken is tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Remove chicken pieces from casserole, and let sit until cool enough to handle. Remove skin from chicken; cut each breast piece in half. Spread each chicken piece with 1/2 teaspoon mustard, season with salt and pepper, and top with sprigs of thyme. Set aside. With a ladle, remove about 1 cup of the chicken cooking liquid from casserole, straining it into a shallow bowl or fat separator; set aside to separate.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pearl onions, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, shaking skillet often, until mushrooms soften and turn golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add mushrooms, and season again with salt and pepper. Cook, shaking skillet often, until mushrooms soften and release their juice, 3 to 5 minutes. Cook until juice has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons Madeira to skillet, and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a bowl, and set aside.

Return skillet to medium heat. Arrange 5 bacon strips in a single layer in skillet. Cook until bacon renders most of its fat and is golden brown. Place a piece of chicken on each piece of bacon and, using tongs, wrap chicken in bacon in a more or less haphazard way. Do not worry if chicken unwraps; it can be easily rewrapped before serving. Remove chicken from skillet, place on a platter, and cover with foil to keep warm. Drain fat from skillet. Repeat with remaining bacon and chicken.

Add reserved cooked mushrooms and onions and all the chicken to skillet. Add remaining 2 tablespoons Madeira and the reserved chicken cooking liquid, skimmed of fat. Cook until chicken and vegetables are hot. Serve.

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16 comments on chicken with chanterelles and pearl onions

  1. Susan

    Hmmmmm…it would be very Martha if this actually were a recipe for Silky chicken — that strange looking black-skinned chicken you can get in Chinatown. If so, that’s one seriously misplaced modifier. Maybe that would make the difference in juiciness. Or could it be that you were eating breast meat, which attains the texture of particleboard in well under an hour of cooking?

  2. Al T

    Yum. I’m going to try this recipe…but probably with just the dark quarters- our family preference. Reminds me of a classic French marinated rabbit recipe which I haven’t made for years. Keep up the interesting stuff. I look forward to your blog every day.

  3. Oh, Martha. I have this problem with her recipes all the time. It’s actually pretty amazing that she has managed to build such an empire when so many of her recipes just don’t quite work. But alas… The photos look lovely!

  4. Gretchen

    Great post- very thought provoking.

    So…why DON’T you just eat the veggies? You would be an amazing vegan cook, and an equally amazing force for compassion.

  5. I would love to read some food photography tips! Sorry this recipe didn’t turn out like you thought it would. I know that feeling and I loathe it. You work so hard and everything looks so beautiful as you’re cooking it up and then it’s lack-luster. That just sucks. But like everyone else said – beautiful pictures! :-)

  6. deb

    You did–did I respond? Is my email etiquette that bad these days or is my spam filter that hyperactive? Anyway, I’m sorry it escaped my mind, but thank you for the suggestion. Did you have success with it when you made it?

  7. I have been thinking about trying this recipe for quite awhile, just tried it last night because chanterelles were $7.99/lb! I wanted to streamline a bit because I was lazy and because it didn’t sound like it was 100% success the first time even with all the steps, and I think it turned out pretty well! I’ve written it up here:
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Julia

    After spending Valentine’s Day morning foraging for mushrooms and coming home with lovely chanterelles, I made this sans chicken and put it over egg noodles for dinner. It was a lovely way to use our precious, and thankfully free (chanterelles were going for $30/lb at my local market) finds.

  9. Anoush

    Can’t get enough of your blog and recipes that follow! Unfortunately, I didn’t read the blurb above the recipe for this one until knee-deep in the casserole step. We were all happy with the pearl onion/mushroom side, but the chicken was bland. And I NEVER have anything bad to say about bacon.

    That being said, the rest of the recipes we have tried have been wonderful, and often droolworthy. Keep ’em coming!