Monday, November 5, 2018

Braised Chicken with Peppers and Tomatoes (Poulet Basquaise)

No, I haven't decided to make the blog bilingual or French. But this recipe is from a French cookbook. If your first thought about a French cookbook is that it's likely to be haughty, fussy, long-cooking, and insanely time-consuming, you might want to think again.

Sure, there are foods that ought to cook a long time, but this time the book is Instantly French by Ann Mah, and it's all about cooking French food in an electric pressure cooker. You know, like an Instant Pot. This time I'm cooking in my Breville Fast and Slow, but the brand shouldn't matter when you're making these recipes.

Like many books (and other things) that show up here, I got this book straight from the publisher at no cost to me. But let's not let that get in the way of dinner, okay?

The book is nicely arranged by categories, and I'll have to admit that I got stuck in the Chicken section. I love chicken cooked in the instant pot, and the recipes all sounded good. And homey. I picked the tomato and pepper recipe because I had almost everything I needed to make it, so it wasn't going to require a big list at the grocery store. Basically, I needed the chicken.

This was super simple. The prep took me about 30 minutes, if we're counting prep as the time before the pressure is put on.

I multi-tasked a bit during prep time. I had the chicken browning while I was cutting the peppers and onions, and I had everything else measured and ready to go before it was time to add them.

Then I cleaned up the kitchen and unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher while the vegetables were sauteing. So it's not like it was 30 minutes of actual kitchen work. Just 30 minutes before pressure was on and I could walk away completely.

On the other end of the recipe, my pressure cooker actually has a "reduce" button, so I used that instead of the saute button. I let it go on its own for the beginning of the reducing time and just checked on it and stirred when there was less liquid in the pot. The ingredients really don't require stirring - you just want to make sure that food doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot where it could burn.

Braised Chicken with Peppers and Tomatoes (Poulet Basquaise) 
Adapted from Instantly French By Ann Mah

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 5 ounces each)
1 medium onion, diced
1 pound red bell peppers, cut into 1/4 inch slices (for me, this was 2 large peppers)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 cup canned whole tomatoes, lightly crushed by hand
1/2 teaspoon sugar, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon piment d'Espelette or sweet paprika, plus more as needed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Cooked long-grain rise, for serving

Using the saute function, heat the olive oil in the pressure cooker. Dry the thighs with paper towels and add them to the pressure cooker. Cook until golden brown on all sides, about 7-8 minutes. You might want to do this in batches, since it's unlikely they'll all fit at the same time.

Remove the chicken and place on a plate or in a bowl. Juices will collect, so make sure the container will accommodate that.

Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, 2-3 minutes, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. (Since my cooker has a nonstick pot, there was no scraping needed.) Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn off the saute function.

Add the tomatoes, sugar, and piment to the pressure cooker. Season lightly with salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Return the chicken to the pot, along with any juices, nestling the chicken skin-side down. Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes. (You might want to quickly hand-wash the plate or bowl to use it again when you're reducing the liquid at the end of cooking time.)

Release the steam manually, then transfer the chicken to a plate, leaving the juice and vegetables in the pot. Using the saute function (or, as I did, the reduce function), bring the cooking liquid to a boil. Cook, stirring as needed (you just want to make sure the food doesn't stick and burn), until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.

Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more sugar, salt, piment, and/or black pepper, as needed.

Return the chicken to the pot, along with any juiced from the plate nestling it into the sauce, and let it heat through for serving.

Serve with long-grain white rice.