Posted on 02 March 2012 by

Poulet au Vinaigre

By David Harbilas

When I was about 25 I was living in a small house in southern New Hampshire with four other people.

I was pretty broke at the time and just starting out as a line cook while pursuing my first masters degree in English.

I was scouring a cookbook one day for a unique recipe and came across this one from the original Craig Claiborne New York Times Cookbook, which I think is now out of print. (Claiborne did about as much for modernizing cooking in America as anyone, including Julia Child.)

Like many recipes of the time, it doesn’t take a lot of fancy ingredients or methods to create. But it did foreshadow the use of acid (vinegars and citrus) in a lot of braises that would become popular in Italian food in the ‘90’s (and which still remain largely unknown). Nonetheless, this is worth making, especially as it perfumes your kitchen for a long time afterward.

Serves 4

1 chicken cut into 8 stewing pieces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups chicken stock
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
salt and pepper

In a pan large enough to hold all the chicken, heat about 3 tablespoons olive oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sear on all sides in the pan, then remove. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, until soft. Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add the vinegar, stock, sugar, and tomatoes and return the chicken to the pan. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1-1 ½ hours, or until the chicken is very tender.

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