Lyonnaise Chicken with Vinegar Sauce

For several centuries Lyon has been known as the French capital of gastronomy, due in part to the presence of many of France’s finest chefs in the city and its surroundings (e.g. Paul Bocuse). This reputation also comes from the fact that two of France’s best known wine-growing regions are located near Lyon: the Beaujolais to the North, and the Côtes du Rhône to the South. Beaujolais wine is very popular in Lyon and remains the most common table wine served with local dishes.

Lyonnaise style cooking refers to dishes characterized by the presence of onions sautéed in butter, which are then finished off with drippings, which have been deglazed with vinegar. While this particular recipe has no onions, it uses a lot of vinegar, which gives it it’s distinct flavor. Chicken Lyonnaise was on the first-class dinner menu of the Titanic, according to the book, “Last Dinner on the Titanic”.

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Lyonnaise Chicken with Vinegar Sauce

Serves 6

3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
4 lb chicken, cut into 10 pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbs unsalted butter
12 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 bay leaf
1 cup Banyuls vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup crème fraîche

Preheat the oven to 450°. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until browned. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the skillet and swirl to coat the chicken. Turn the chicken skin side up and add the garlic and bay leaf.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake the chicken for 8 minutes, until the breast pieces are just white throughout. Transfer the breast pieces to a plate. Add the vinegar to the skillet, return to the oven and bake the remaining chicken, basting a few times, until cooked through, 15 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken and garlic to the plate.

Add the chicken stock to the skillet and boil, scraping up the browned bits, until reduced to 1 1/4 cups, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the crème fraîche and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Return the chicken to the skillet along with any accumulated juices. Simmer over moderately high heat, basting a few times, until the sauce thickens slightly and the chicken is heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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