Poulet aux Prunes

Auberge Chez Richard says:
How could I say no to any chicken recipe that involved prunes that are steeped in Armagnac and smothered in shallots? I'm only human (though some might argue otherwise) and I have been a loyal camp follower of Armagnac for some time. As many of you know, Armagnac is the oldest brandy distilled in Gascony, in the southwest of France. The name dates back to the Gallo-roman times of Arminius. The first known distillation was in 1411 and the first commercial activity involving Armagnac was registered in 1414 in Saint-Sever in Landes. In the past, Armagnac was consumed for its therapeutic benefits and that's one of the principal reasons I still consume it today.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup large pitted prunes (about 20)
  • 2/3 cup Armagnac (or other cognac or brandy), divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 4-pound cut-up free-range chicken (frankly any chicken, liberated or otherwise) 12 large shallots, peeled
  • (if you use boneless chicken, be cautioned that the cooking will take much less time)
  • 1 1/4 cups organic chicken broth
  • 3 large fresh thyme sprigs plus 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Sherry wine vinegar
YIELD: 4 servings
COURSE: Chicken & Other Birds
CUISINE: French
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Boil prunes with 1/3 cup Armagnac in a small saucepan until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Cover and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle your free chicken with salt and pepper.
  3. Add to skillet, skin side down; cook until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings.
  4. Add shallots; cook until browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1/3 cup Armagnac; boil 30 seconds, scraping up browned bits. Add broth, prunes, and thyme sprigs; bring to boil.
  5. Add chicken in a single layer, skin side up, and any accumulated juices. Cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer until chicken is cooked through about 17 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate.
  6. Stir vinegar into sauce; simmer until thickened, 3 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with chopped thyme.
  7. Serve with Potatoes Sarladaises, chanterelle mushrooms (if in season), carrot and parsnip coins. Invite a few friends if you wish to share if not, well its certainly understandable.