Chicken Thighs With Peppers

This is a wonderful dish for any time of year, light enough for the summer and rich enough for the colder months.  Some key points to note:  the best ingredients are absolutely vital in all cooking but all the more so in simple dishes – and this is a simple dish.  So make sure that you have the finest free range chicken thighs on hand, and that the peppers are fresh and crisp.

I’ve written elsewhere that I think aesthetics are really important, too.  A dish that looks good always seems to taste better than something nondescript. This can be a very pretty dish, the crisp, browned, chicken skin contrasting with the different colored peppers make a real difference here.

You’ll need:
8 free range chicken thighs
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
4 bell peppers, a combination of red, orange & yellow, sliced (I’m not a fan of green bell peppers, but if you are, feel free to add them in this recipe)
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt & pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

What you do:

If you have time, pre-salt the chicken thighs and let them sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Bring the chicken to room temperature for ½ hour before cooking.

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and when the oil is hot add the chicken to the pan, skin side down.  Brown the skin side and then the other side.  It’s important to give the thighs plenty of room in the pan, so cook them in batches if necessary.

Remove the chicken and set aside.  Season it with salt and pepper – yes, again!  This, and cooking the thighs with the skin on, even if your more fastidious and fat-conscious guests remove the skin before the dine, is the key to flavor.

Be careful about any excess oil in the pan.  As with all cooking, experiment and experience will be the key but if you leave too much oil in the pan at this stage, the resulting dish will be too oily.

Add the sliced peppers, sliced onions, garlic and tomato paste and cook them in the remaining olive oil and chicken fat until they’re soft.  Perhaps ten minutes.  Season them!

Add the white wine and reduce to about half.  Now return the chicken thighs to the pan and simmer, turning the chicken once, for approximately 30 minutes. Garnish the finished dish with chopped parsley.

John’s Wine Pairing:

I chose a 2007 Chasseur Chardonnay to accompany the  dish, needing a wine that would stand up to the capsicum in the peppers.  2007 will prove to be a legendary year for California chardonnays and this is one of the best in terms of both quality and value.

For those of you who like flowery wine descriptions, I find this Chasseur buttery, fruity with a grassy flavor and apricot undertones,a luscious chewiness and texture leading to a long lingering finish. For those of you who prefer more practical or down to earth criteria, this wine sells (as I write) for less than $40 a bottle, as compared to the  $80-odd you might pay for the Sangiacomo Vineyard from Chausser. this choice gives you all the beauty of a Chasseur without going bust.