We are doing a horrible job. By February’s midway point we have completed two of ten from this month’s cookbook. We can blame the big move to Wordspace, but despite the distraction, we still ate. I even posted some non cookbook meals. Twice. There really is no excuse.
For our second foray into the Italian classic we chose a recipe for chicken cooked in red wine. The dish was delicious. The picture was my worst attempt at food photography to date. For a dish that looks so remarkably unlike dog food, the picture I took looks remarkably like dog food. It must never see the light of day. You get this intead.
I’ve mentioned how imprecise the instructions are in this book, but we followed this one exactly and we were most pleased.
1/2 cup dried mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 dried bay leaf
4 chicken legs
1 1/2 cups red wine
4 slices of pancetta
Boil some water in the kettle and then pour over the mushrooms in a bowl. Let them soak for fifteen or so minutes until they soften. Put the butter in a Dutch oven or lesser vessel and melt, adding the bay leaf and rosemary near the end. Brown the chicken in the butter and, add the wine and then the mushrooms. When the wine has evaporated, pull the chicken and wrap each piece with pancetta and return to the pan. Continue to cook for at least 30 minutes. The book recommends adding flour to thicken if necessary or water to thin. We found that a splash or two of wine when needed kept everything from drying out.
A word about our mushrooms: We are lucky enough to know That Polish Woman. She comes back from her occasional trips to Poland with the most astonishing dried porcini mushrooms. I like to think she smuggles them in to the country, risking life and limb to bring us fungal perfection. Actually, I like to think that dangers of smuggling the things over pale in comparison to the arduous journey she endures to find them. A moving marketplace, always obscured by fog, found by following the laughter, or is it sobbing – one can never tell – of small children in the distance. An old crone hands over strings of dried shrooms for ten coins and a secret. “Any secret will do,” she laughs through teeth stained red with… best not to think of it. You wonder if the exchange was wise as you wander down the path, afraid to look back.
Sometimes her mother FedExes them to to her.
We saved the water used to reconstitute the mushrooms and added it to some creamy mashed potatoes and were very pleased with the earthy flavor. Glazed carrots finished the dish. Rhone reds (2006 Domaine des Florets Gigondas) or a softer brunello would be great with this. Match the wine with the pancetta, mushrooms, and red wine reduction as they are more pronounced flavors than the chicken.