I first had this chicken at a family friend’s friends house. She was our next-door neighbor at my grandparent’s house and even in High School, I was always in awe of her garden. Which was always a weird thing to my friends who’d I bring with me, I’d always agree to a garden tour because she always had interesting things in there. Weird vegetables, edible flowers, almost anything that her “chef friend” would use, and she’d use these in her home cooking, which I found inspiring. Her “chef friend” made this dish when she then made us, and I remember more than anything how easy but impressive it can be. The original recipe was for chicken tenders, and it was just a balsamic reduction, it was very good, but me being me I took the idea and made it my own. I used dark meat so it doesn’t dry out, I added caramelized onions to add a bit of sweet and to add a bit of texture to the sauce, I finished it with butter to make the sauce velvety as I did in culinary school, and lastly, I’d serve it on top of spinach because balsamic and spinach are perfect together.
Yield 4 servings
2 Pounds bone-in skin-on Chicken thighs
2 large Onions, thinly sliced
2T Butter (divided)
1/2c Balsamic Chicken
1c Chicken Stock
To Start: Like Julia Child says, dry your meat. We want a good color and you can’t get that with wet meat.
Step One: Season your chicken with salt and pepper and in a medium high heated pan add a little oil and brown the chicken skin side down until golden brown. If the chicken sticks to the pan it’s not that you didn’t use enough oil it’s that it’s not ready to flip. Brown both sides and remove from pan.
Step Two: Either remove or add oil to the pan depending on how much fat was rendered from the chicken, should be about a tablespoon. Add all the onions, seasoning with salt and stirring while the liquid in the onions are being released and scrapping up the fawn (browned bits of chicken). If there is a milky liquid around the onions and all the fawn is has released, cover the pan stirring every few minutes until the onions are tender. Once they are extremely tender remove lid and let whatever liquid is there cook away. Once the liquid is gone add 1/2 the butter, sugar and cook stirring until onions are deep a caramel color.
Step Three: Once the onions are caramelized turn on your fan (you’ll thank me for this!) add the balsamic vinegar. cook down the balsamic until it has reduced to about 1/2 the volume and add the chicken stock and nestle the chicken skin side up back to the pan. Cover and let cook until the chicken is cooked through. Flipping the chicken once about 2/3rds of the way cooked.
To Finish: Remove chicken from the sauce taste for salt and finish with butter. This will make the sauce come together and have a velvety consistency. Serve on top of creamed spinach or risotto making sure there is enough sauce to cover everything.