This chicken casserole from the Beaujolais has become a favourite dish in Parisian bistros over the last few years. The quality of the vinegar is important, and it is also important that the vinegar be reduced over a high heat so the finished dish has an interesting tang rather than being too sharp.
1 chicken, 1.8 kg
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
40 g butter
8 cloves garlic, peeled
12 shallots, peeled
¾ cup red-wine vinegar
¾ cup Fresh Tomato Sauce, or tomato passata
¾ cup Chicken Stock
2 tablespoons parsley, freshly chopped
Joint chicken into thighs, drumsticks and wings and cut each breast fillet in half, keeping it on the bone. You should have 10 pieces. Season.
Heat oil and two-thirds of the butter in a large enamelled cast-iron casserole and, in batches, brown chicken, removing each piece to a plate as it becomes nicely coloured. Add garlic and shallots to casserole to brown, then transfer to plate with chicken. Pour off fat from pot. Return chicken pieces to casserole, putting thigh and drumstick sections on the bottom. Scatter garlic and shallots on top. Turn heat to high and, when there is a convincing sizzle, pour in vinegar. It should instantly sizzle and froth and bubble. Shake pot once or twice, and when not much liquid remains, add tomato sauce and stock. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Slip a simmer mat underneath pot and cook on top of stove for 25 minutes (or transfer pot to oven at 180°C). When chicken pieces are tender, shake in remaining butter. Taste sauce for seasoning and scatter over parsley. Serve with boiled potatoes.
Variation For a less rustic dish, transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a warm plate and strain the juices, pressing to force the garlic and shallots through. Return the chicken and sauce to the pot and shake in butter and serve as above.