I invited my adorable friend (who shall be known as Smiley from this point forth) over for dinner last night. He is new to the city, and very rarely cooks for himself. In fact, he has yet to purchase any real plates and has been living on paper plates since he moved into his apartment a month ago. So, of course I had to extend my hospitality and give him a long awaited home-cooked meal.
I was perusing the latest issue of Bon Appetit yesterday morning, when I came across a recipe for braised chicken from The Google Cafeteria. It looked healthy enough, and I decided to use breasts instead of thighs and added a little more thyme than called for – but otherwise followed the recipe pretty closely. I also decided to make a cauliflower purée to go with the chicken, which was another first time recipe! All in all, both Smiley and I were very pleased with the results and helped ourselves to second portions.
Braised Chicken with Kale (serves 2-4)
- 2 chicken drums, bone in and skin on
- 1 chicken breast, bone in and skin on, halved
- 1 TB smoked paprika
- pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 1 large bunch of Tuscan kale, center ribs and stems removed, cut into 1-inch strips
Cauliflower Purée (serves 2-4)
- 1 head of cauliflower, core removed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 TB unsalted butter
- 1 tsp truffle salt
- 6 saffron threads, crushed
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 10 chives, chopped finely
To prepare chicken, evenly coat all sides with paprika, salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over a medium-high flame. Add chicken pieces, skin side down and cook for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally until brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate.
Add garlic and onions and sauté until soft, about 8 minutes. Return chicken to pot and add broth, wine and herbs. Bring to a boil and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook for 35 minutes.
Add kale to pot and re-cover, cooking for 5 more minutes. Discard herbs and transfer to a serving bowl.
Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water. Add the cauliflower florets and lower heat to medium, cooking for 10-15 minutes or until the florets are soft when you poke a fork through them. Drain the florets, reserving half a cup of the cooking water.
Transfer cauliflower to a large food processor and briefly process. Add cooking water by the tablespoon until you reach the right consistency (you do not want to add too much water, as it will be too liquidy). Add truffle salt, saffron and black pepper and pulse. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Using a rubber spatula, transfer to a serving dish and top with chopped chives.
I served this dish with a bottle of one of my favorite whites from South Africa, Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc. This wine has a great, refreshing acidity with grapefruit tones, which is nicely balanced with a smooth spice. We actually drank most of the wine before dinner, but we were able to save a couple glasses to be enjoyed with the meal. The wine paired very well, softening the spice in the dish.
The cauliflower purée turned out terrifically! My mother suggested adding the saffron and truffle salt, and I loved the combination of flavors – plus, the saffron created a pretty red ribbon through the purée. It was the perfect vegetable side to the juicy chicken and kale, providing a soft texture to soak up the broth. This meal will definitely be a repeat, and Smiley is STILL talking about it.