Friday, September 21, 2012

Vermouth Chicken

NOTE: This post was scheduled by Daniel Saraga of Haggis and Herring before he suddenly passed away.  We have decided to ensure his scheduled posts continue.  Daniel's wife Meredith posted her eulogy.  Please read more about our wonderful Daniel.

I guess my friends and I are at that age when our parents are starting to get older and are moving out of houses they've occupied for 30+ years and into smaller places – apartments, condos or otherwise. You can imagine the fun of emptying a lifetime of accumulated stuff from basements. I'm not looking forward to helping out with that task when the time comes.

Our good friend, Dr. Karen, has been on such a mission for the last few weeks. Back in July, she uncovered a case of Vermouth which her father apparently "bought for next to nothing - practically free!" What on Earth was she going to do with it? Why, call up her friends and ask them what they'd do with a bottle, of course!

I immediately said "I'd cook with it," and started to look up what exactly Vermouth was, aside from one of the ingredients in a Martini.

To my surprise, I learned that Vermouth is actually a fortified wine, so it doesn't last long once opened. It really needs to be kept in the fridge once the seal is broken, and tossed after six months.

Now put up your hand if you or your parents have a half-empty bottle of Vermouth sitting in your liquor cabinet that's at least 14 years old. You should throw that out.

I also read that Vermouth can be used as a substitute for red wine in savoury dishes, and quickly found a recipe for Vermouth chicken. Not being satisfied with the original recipe, I rewrote it and adjusted many ingredients, including upping the amount of sauce (both literally and figuratively) and adding olives – you could just smell that it was begging for olives, seriously.

We served the chicken with baked potatoes, however, I think we'll serve it with rice next time.

Dr. Karen made her own, mostly following this recipe,
using less onion, putting the olives on top
afterwards, and serving it on top of spatzele,
a German pasta.

Vermouth Chicken

2 tbsp olive oil
1 kilo chicken legs
1 red onion, sliced
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp salt (if tomatoes are unsalted)
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
1 cup dry Vermouth
1 can diced tomatoes
250g mushrooms
1/4 cup olives, sliced
1 small can (150ml) tomato paste
  1. Heat olive oil on medium in a deep pan and brown chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Add onions, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and saute for 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add the Vermouth and quickly scrape any remains of chicken from the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  5. Add back chicken, reduce to medium, cover and let simmer for 25 minutes, turning chicken after 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in tomato paste, add olives and reduce to medium-low. Cover and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
  7. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
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