Two Years Ago: Venetian Shrimp and Scallops
This recipe originated with Martha Stewart, then Andrew Zimmern's wife adapted it and he posted it on Twitter. (If you're not familiar with Andrew Zimmern, he has a bizarre foods TV show where he eats a lot of bugs.) Any way, his post was: “Brown 8 thighs, 3 C shallots. Add wine, tarragon, Dijon, sim 30 min covered. Remove lid, reduce. Add 2C cut cherry toms.” Succinct, but a little lacking in a few details. The New York Times Cooking team picked it up and added a few more instructions, which is where I found it and adapted it slightly yet again. It's kind of like starting a story to see if it bears any resemblance at all by the time it gets back to you.
Anyway, this is a very easy recipe to make because it only takes one pan and minimal prep. Twelve to fifteen whole shallots may seem like a lot, but shallots have a delicate onion flavor to start and then they get caramelized which softens the flavor even more. Wine, Dijon mustard and tarragon add richness and the relatively low and slow cooking time results in very tender chicken that's not dry. I served it over wide pasta ribbons but it would be equally good with rice or bread to soak up the sauce. Speaking of the sauce, I was surprised by how light it actually was. For some reason I was expecting something like a cream sauce even though there's no cream (go figure) but it's much lighter than that. This recipe reminds me somewhat of a French chicken dish that I previously posted called Chicken Gaston Gerard that has a Dijon sauce containing cream and cheese, so that might be where I got it. This is a lighter version that that but it still tastes very French.
I eventually looked up the original Martha Stewart recipe just out of curiosity. Her version had garlic, less wine, and more water in the sauce. Next time I may add garlic but more wine is better in my opinion. :-)
Chicken with Shallots
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, rinsed and trimmed of excess fat
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 – 15 whole medium shallots, peeled
2 cups white wine
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 sprigs fresh tarragon
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Sprinkle the chicken thighs with flour, salt and pepper on both sides. Melt the butter in a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add the chicken (in batches if necessary) and cook until browned on both sides (do not cook through). Set aside.
Add the whole shallots to the same skillet and sauté until they begin to soften and caramelize, about 10-12 minutes. Add the wine and deglaze with a large spoon, then add the mustard and tarragon. Stir, then add the chicken thighs. Cover, turn to low heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Remove the lid and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken for 15 to 20 minutes, adding the cherry tomatoes in the last 5-10 minutes so they begin to soften.
Serve immediately with rice, pasta, or bread to soak up the sauce.