Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Vineyard Chicken

A couple of months ago, I flew to New Orleans for the wedding of one of my best friends in the world, and spent the majority of my time there eating. Surprise! I ran rampant around that gorgeous city chugging chicory coffee, plowing through a scary number of steaming hot beignets, nibbling on praline bacon, buying multiple bottles of hot sauce, and swigging Everclear slushies at inappropriately early times of day (when on Bourbon Street....).

By the time I left, I was thoroughly in love with the place, and convinced it was one of the greatest food cities on the planet. And so, of course, I picked up a spiral bound copy of River Road Recipes, the community cookbook compiled by The Junior League of Baton Rouge, and dedicated to Louisiana cooking. The book was first published in 1959, so the recipes in there reflect that time period, and are satisfyingly simple and, at times, downright odd (anyone in the mood for some turtle soup?). I'd forgotten how good old-school, homespun cooking could be, and how fun it was to read recipes that sound like they could've been scribbled on a piece of notebook paper by your grandmother.

This Vineyard Chicken, submitted by a Mrs. Ronaldo Coco, gets it's winsome name from the white wine that infuses it, and it is honestly one of the best chicken preparations in recent memory. It's also dead easy--the instructions don't exceed six sentences--yet, somehow gives you a batch of fall-off-the-bone tender chicken nestled in a delicious sauce made of wine, paprika, lemon, and butter. That sauce is like gold--spoon it over your rice or potatoes or whatever you may be serving this dish with.

You go, Mrs. Ronaldo Coco.

Vineyard Chicken
1 3 lb. chicken, butchered into 8 pieces (or 3 lbs worth of legs and thighs)
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
3 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup minced parsley

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place chicken, skin side down, in large casserole. Blend all other ingredients together and pour over the chicken. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and discard. Turn chicken skin side up; increase temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 30 minutes, basting a couple of times. Increase temperature to 425 degrees for the last 30 minutes of baking time, basting a few times. Serves 4.


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