Braised Chicken in a Casserole with Chestnuts and Sausages

This dish was originally created for older squab, but I love this easier version with chicken. You can also use duck (wild or domestic) instead.

In England, the little sausages I love to put with poultry are called chipolata, and are the same size as American breakfast sausages, though not as highly seasoned. The latter will work well, and if you want to add a real zinger, use lamb merguez sausages, which are full of red pepper.

Serve this dish in the winter with mushroom hash mixed in equal quantities with mashed potatoes, and in warmer (but still chestnut) weather with a warm potato salad of your choice, like the pommes de terre à la provençale in Alexandre Dumas’s Le Grand dictionnaire de la cuisine (1873), served hot, or see James Beard’s Bacon Potato Salad in his American Cookery (1972).

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Ingredients

Method

Put the chicken in a mixing bowl and pour the marinade salt over it. Rub the salt over the chicken and marinate 1 hour, then wipe off all the salt.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the bacon in a heavy casserole just large enough to hold the chicken with 2 inches all around, and cook the bacon over medium heat until it has rendered most of its fat. Take the bacon pieces out with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the casserole. Turn the heat up slightly and brown the chicken on all sides in the casserole, for about 8 minutes. Be careful not to let anything burn. Take the pot off the heat, remove the chicken, wipe out the casserole with paper towels, and put the bird back in. Add the cooked bacon, vegetable mix, and herb bundle.

Turn the heat to medium, and when the casserole is hot, pour in the wine. Boil for 1 minute, then cover the casserole and sweat everything for 10 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a boil and immediately put the casserole in the oven and cook for 1 hour, or until the chicken is tender.

Cook the sausages in a pan over medium heat for 5 minutes, turning them once or twice. Put them aside on paper towels to drain, wipe the fat out of the pan, and add the onions and tarragon. Add ¼ cup water and a pinch of salt, cover, and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions are just tender when pierced with a fork.

Take the chicken out of the casserole, strain the braising juices, and simmer in another pan to reduce a bit and clean of all the fat. Put the chicken back in the casserole and add the onions, sausages, and chestnuts. The dish can be prepared several hours in advance up to this point if you want.

Thirty minutes before serving, stir the orange zest into the reduced sauce and pour it back over the chicken in the casserole. Correct the seasoning. Reheat the chicken in the casserole on top of the stove or in a 350-degree oven, but do not let the sauce boil.

Carve the chicken, and pass the salt separately to be sprinkled over it.

Variation

Serve with the lemon and fig relish.

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