Fine Cooking (August/September 2015)
We had a terror-stricken moment at the farmers market this past Sunday. There we were, walking around, minding our own business, when we looked up and saw something that instantly filled us with dread.
What we saw were four little words on a handwritten sign at our favorite fruit stand:
Last week for peaches!
We mentioned the other day that we've had a harder than usual time saying goodbye to summer this year. We still are. And the end of peach season isn't helping.
If you can still find peaches where you live -- supermarkets should still have plenty for a little while longer and will work quite well in this recipe -- here's a wonderful way to enjoy them: Braised Chicken Thighs with Savory Marinated Peaches.
This dish is actually perfect for this time of year. The braised chicken and the gorgeous gravy feels very autumnal, but the peaches keep it summery. It's excellent straddle-season fare.
Let's talk about these savory peaches. The rum, vinegar and rosemary really infuse the fruit with a wonderful flavor that honestly was even more savory than we expected. By the time these peaches sit for a bit (we let ours marinate for a few hours; the recipe suggests up to 24 hours), there's not a lot of sweetness left. That's not a complaint -- far from it!
The remainder of this dish is a very straightforward braise: Brown the chicken in a little fat (the prosciutto gives it a nice salty, porky note), then add liquid and braise in the oven.
There's actually a final step here that we love: You take the braised chicken out of the pot and broil it, giving it a nice crisp skin. That's a super smart technique that we're definitely going to use again.
The final result is absolutely wonderful. This is really one of those dishes that keep surprising you with flavor -- the vinegary peaches, the briny capers, the tarragon. It's incredibly delicious.
We served this for our friend Owen, who moved from D.C. to Switzerland for work last year but was back in town for a few meetings. We all really loved this chicken. And just after Owen left for his hotel, the two of us maaaay have stood over the sink eating two more gravy-slathered thighs.
Believe us, you'll be doing the same thing when you make this.
Serves 4 to 6
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
1 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, cut crosswise into thin strips
3 lb. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 8)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium leek, white and light green part only, thinly sliced (1 cup)
3 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
3 cups Sherry Vinegar and Rosemary Marinated Peaches [recipe below], drained, marinade reserved
3 cups lower-salt chicken broth
2 Tbs. drained capers
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. fresh tarragon leaves, coarsely chopped
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
Heat the oil in an 8-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium heat. Add the prosciutto and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl and set aside. if the pan is dry, add a little more oil.
Season the chicken lightly on all sides with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown the chicken on both sides, about 12 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
Turn the heat down to medium low. Pour off all but 1 Tbs. fat from the pot and then add the leek and garlic. cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add the reserved marinade and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid thickens, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, season lightly with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Arrange the chicken in the pot skin side up, return to a boil, and transfer the pot to the oven to braise, uncovered, until the chicken cooks through, about 25 minutes.
Take the pot out of the oven. Turn the broiler on high. Transfer the chicken, skin side up, to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
Simmer the sauce in the pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced by about half, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the capers and peaches; cook until heated through. Stir in the butter until it melts, then stir in 1 Tbs. of the tarragon and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, broil the chicken until the skin is crisp, about 3 minutes.
Return the chicken to the pot or transfer it to a large platter and spoon the sauce over it. garnish with the prosciutto and the remaining tarragon leaves, and serve.
Yields 3 cups
3 medium ripe peaches, pitted and sliced, diced, or cut into wedges
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-1/2 Tbs. spiced dark rum (optional)
2 Tbs. sherry vinegar
1-1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch granulated sugar
Gently combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and let marinate at room temperature for at least 20 minutes and up to 24 hours. After marinating, you can refrigerate the peaches for up to 1 day.