Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Jacques' Covid Kitchen



In case you haven't yet discovered it, Jacques Pépin has been giving great little five-minute cooking lessons on Facebook all during the Covid shutdown. He takes whatever he finds in his fridge and makes some magic nearly every day. You can tell he's stuck at home, too, as his hair keeps getting longer and he sometimes repeats the same shirt - as we all do on Zoom these days. His recipes are really simple and his delivery is, as usual, warmly charming. If you haven't "friended" him on Facebook, I think you'll enjoy his lessons.

I certainly am. Last week, he made a version of a famous regional dish from Lyon where he grew up called "Poulet au Vinaigre" or Vinegar Chicken. I had heard of this dish a long time ago and tried to replicate it without success, so I was surprised that M. Pépin would give even a shortened version of it at a time when we don't have a lot of ingredients around.

I need not have worried - his preparation was simple and the result was quite tasty. Give it a try and I expect you, too, will be adding M. Pépin to your Facebook friends.

Poulet au Vinaigre from Jacques Pépin 

You will need a small non-stick sauté pan with a lid. Serves 2.

Ingredients

2 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in

3 cloves of garlic (1-1/2 Tbs approximately), crushed and finely chopped

3 Tablespoons wine vinegar (I used red wine vinegar as I couldn't see which kind he used)

2 Tablespoons ketchup

Salt and pepper

Instructions

Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken thighs and cut with a sharp knife along both sides of the bone on the under side of each to flatten a bit.

Place the chicken thighs, skin side down, in the cold sauté pan and place over medium-high heat. No fat is necessary, the chicken skin will release enough fat to complete the dish. Cook without turning until the skin is richly browned and crisp. Don't allow the fat to burn - it should be nicely brown, too.

Once the skin is browned, cover the pan (still no turning) and cook with just the steam from the meat for about 20-25 minutes, until the meat near the bone is no longer pink and the meat is tender. Remove the thighs to a serving dish, skin side up. The skin should be crisp.

Crush the garlic cloves under the flat blade of a knife to remove the peel, then finely chop (or you could use a garlic press). You should have about 1-1/2 Tablespoons of garlic.

Add the garlic to the rendered fat in the sauté pan and fry for about 20 seconds, then add 3 Tablespoons of vinegar, swirl the pan to incorporate the juices, and cook until the pan is almost dry - this step will dissipate the sharpness of the vinegar. 

Add 2 Tablespoons of ketchup to the pan and stir. Add salt to taste, and pour over the chicken and serve. If you aren't serving right away, pour the sauce around the chicken rather than over it, so the skin stays crisp.


I am certain that this recipe isn't "classical" French cooking, but it's homey, quick, and delicious - who could ask for more right now?  In these crazy days/weeks/months when we rely so heavily on social media, I was happy to find an old friend cooking away in his kitchen, preparing food for his beloved Gloria, and making recipes he remembers from his childhood in Lyon.

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