Somehow our schedule has gotten REALLY busy. Seems busier than normal. In the span of eleven days we've had a wine dinner, two trips to the theatre, a football game, a party, dinner with a friend, sushi with the crew from Chef Joseph's, dinner with two different couples and a birthday party. Yes, that's right, something planned ten days out of eleven. That meant that actually getting home and being able to fix dinner was a good thing. I was exhausted from a crazy workload at the office and some big projects at the house. So, I wanted to fix something easy. Usually nothing from Weekend in a French Kitchen qualifies as easy AND has an ingredient list that's on hand. My friends had been raving about Chicken Grand-mere Francine. I either had everything or a close substitution. Chicken it was.
Now, first let me tell you about the yard... We never dreamed when we moved in that the yard would basically be a layer of sod over fill. We tried to plant a couple of the starts we'd brought along and had to chisel out holes. It was miserable. Two of the areas where we wanted to plant had some pretty good slopes. That meant we could have retaining walls built and topsoil tilled in. One's shaded by a locust and a pear. Pear trees don't have a terribly long life span so we don't know how long that one will last. The locust is a bully. The roots are upending our driveway and the sidewalk to the front porch. And, they're right on the surface. Plus, it's a filthy tree. There's always some detritus from it. But, it's huge and having it taken down would be really expensive. So, replacing it will just have to wait. Given all that we decided to work with the trees we have. The guys put some big boulders in to match the one that was already there. Then, they lined the rest of the bed with stones. We proceeded to put almost all of our hosta in. And, the Solomon's Seal, epimedium, astilbe, columbine and meadow rue. We'll want to fill in with more of everything next spring. But, for now it looks great. The other part of the shade garden will be hellebore, heuchera and some daylilies in the partial shade. The sun garden has two tiers. I've put in rhubarb and red sorrel. Space has been left for more rhubarb plants along with kale and Swiss chard. Then, we've got bee balm, Echinacea, rudebeckia, lilies, iris, daylilies, Siberian iris, horseradish, daisies, peonies and loads of other sun plants. Here's how everything looked and looks.
Back to chicken. We didn't have celery root. It's always a challenge to find at the grocery and we didn't want to start the hunt. So, we decided to leave it out. I had red potatoes and not Yukon Gold. They'd work just fine. No Cipollino onions so a large onion cut into chunks would have to work. So, the dish began. First, you sauté the skin side of the chicken until it's golden brown. We prefer thighs so that's what I used. You remove the chicken to a plate and pour off all but two tablespoons of the fat. Then, you add butter, onions, shallots, garlic and thyme. Now, the recipe called for something I'd never done. You separate but do not peel the garlic cloves. Ok, I'd try it. After everything gets a little browned, you add the potatoes and bacon. Cover the pan and cook for ten minutes, stirring a few times. Then, the chicken goes back in along with some chicken broth. The whole shebang goes in the oven for 25 minutes. You proceed to either putter in the kitchen and drool or sit in the living room reading the paper and drooling. Yes, it smells that good. And, it tastes as good as it smells! When we post dishes for Weekend in a French Kitchen, we don't include the recipe. But, you'll be able to tell a LOT from the photos!