James Villas, author of My Mother's Southern Entertaining (Morrow), can serve this homey chicken to company even when he doesn't know their tastes.
Plus: More Chicken Recipes and Tips
All-purpose flour, for dredging
Three 1/2-pound chicken breast halves on the bone, halved crosswise
3 whole chicken legs, cut into drumsticks and thighs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large onions (2 pounds), thinly sliced (see Note)
1/2 pound white mushrooms, stems trimmed, thickly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
How to Make It
Put some flour in a paper bag, add the chicken pieces and shake well to coat them; shake off the excess flour. In a large cast-iron skillet, melt the butter in the oil. Add half the chicken at a time and season with salt and pepper. Brown over moderate heat for 4 to 5 minutes per side; transfer to a large plate.
Add the onions and mushrooms to the skillet and cook over moderately low heat for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken and cover with the onions. Add the stock and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the chicken is cooked, about 35 minutes; discard the bay leaf. Transfer to a large platter. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
In the South, it would be traditional to use Vidalia onions, but other sweet onions, such as Walla Walla, or even Spanish onions or yellow onions, would work well in this dish.
Dress It Up When the chicken is cooked, stir in 2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped basil and 2 cups of shelled peas. Cover the skillet and cook until the peas are done, about 7 minutes.
The sweet, earthy caramelized onions in this dish will find echoes in an intense Pinot Noir. Look for one from California or Oregon.
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