Friday, 17 January 2014

Recipe: French Onion Braised Chicken

In addition to my beautiful pizza stone, which I've used a number of time to make homemade pizza (recipes & photos coming soon), I was also fortunate enough to receive a le creuset grill pan for Christmas. Now, I had actually been coveting the cast iron skillet, but apparently the store was sold out when the boyfriend was doing his Christmas shopping. So he bought the wrong pan intentionally, planning that we would exchange it after Christmas for exactly what I wanted. But that way there would be something le creuset under the Christmas tree.

What I didn't expect when we went back a few days ago was that the store would be clearing out their marseilles blue le creuset stock. How lucky for me! I managed to snag my cast iron skillet and my dream le creuset dutch oven!! I have literally been drooling over these babies for years, but just couldn't justify the $400+ price tag. I have literally been drooling over these babies for years, but just couldn't justify the $400+ price tag. This has to go down as one of my very most favourite kitchen purchases, second only to my kitchenaid stand mixer.

Obviously I needed to find a recipe immediately to christen my new stoneware asap. This was high priority. I finally settled on this Braised French Onion Chicken with Gruyere recipe, in part because I had pretty much all of the ingredients on hand. Make sure you check out the link to the original recipe - her photography is ah-mazing! (much better than the photos I've got on here.. but practice makes perfect)

Naturally, I needed to make some fresh crusty bread to go with it. That will be a separate recipe post.

I made a few modifications to the original recipe to work with our preferences and what was in my kitchen. I used chicken drumsticks instead of thighs and upped the broth because we like lots of liquid to go with our crusty bread! As well, I used a horseradish dijon mustard just for a kick of spice. I had asiago and mozzarella kicking around from all the pizza adventures. Next time perhaps I'll add some mushrooms for a little extra meaty-ness. 

This is definitely a recipe I will be making again and again. My sister is not much of a fan of onions but she described them as "caramelized goodness" and helped herself to seconds. The boyfriend declared this to be his favourite meal that I've made in a very long time. Not sure if that means I have been slacking off and cooking some sub-par meals, but it was pretty darn tasty. He actually put the little remaining broth and onions in a container "for tomorrow" - whatever that means. The chicken, originally looking a little on the freezer burnt side, was fall off the bone tender and juicy. And that broth!

Oh, and in case you were wondering - the dutch oven? Amazing. Definitely a worthwhile purchase.

French Onion Braised Chicken

(Recipe from The Kitchn)


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large white onions, thinly sliced 
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 
  • 3 small sprigs of thyme, leaves only
  • 1 large sprig of rosemary 
  • 1 container chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons horesradish dijon mustard
  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozarella/asiago cheese blend

The ingredients listed are just guidelines. Use whatever you have on hand or whatever your family likes best. Any good melting cheese would work with this. I'm sure swiss would be delish (I crack myself up!) or a cheddar/mozza blend. Really, it's all going to melt down into the caramelized onions and chicken anyway. In terms of chicken, next time I think I would use boneless skinless things instead of the drumsticks. You could use chicken breasts as well, just be sure to adjust your cooking time.


In your favourite deep sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions to your melted butter and stir them around to ensure they are all coated in the melted butter. Season generously with salt and pepper, depending on the salt level in your chicken stock and if you are using salted or unsalted butter. If you've got a reduced sodium stock and unsalted butter, add a little more to your onions. Full sodium and salted butter? Cut back a bit. You get the idea.

You're going to cook the onions low and slow for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Low or medium low heat will do for this stage. I used my new cast iron skillet and it worked beautifully!

After about 40ish minutes, the onions will have turned a nice, even beige colour. Add your garlic, thyme, and sprig of rosemary and cook for 2-3 more minutes, stirring frequently. Up the heat to high and cook for another 5 minutes, continuing to stir frequently as the onions turn a darker brown. When they are getting quite dark, slowly pour in about half the container of chicken stock. As you pour in the stock, use your spoon to scrape up all the good bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Bring the stock up to a light simmer for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, during the onion cooking process, you can be doing double-duty and getting your chicken seared off as well! Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees F somewhere in this time, too.

Heat up a teaspoon of olive oil in your dutch oven over medium high heat. Pat the chicken drumsticks dry with a paper towel and season lightly with salt, pepper, and a touch of paprika. Place the drumsticks skin-side down in the hot dutch oven, being careful not to crowd the pan. Allow the skin to get crispy and brown, about 3-4 minutes, before turning them over. Sear the other side (again about 3 mins) then remove from the heat. The chicken won't be cooked through at this point, and that's fine.

Add the rest of the chicken stock to the pan, still over medium high heat. Make sure you use your spoon to scrape up all the good browned bits from the bottom of this pan as well. Once the stock comes up to a simmer, whisk in the mustard and balsamic vinegar. I added some chili flakes here as well, totally your call.  

Allow the liquid to simmer in your dutch oven for another 5 minutes or so, long enough to reduce a bit. Pour the pan of onions and stock into the dutch oven and nestle the chicken in with all the onions. You want lots of broth in there! Don't worry if it looks soupy, I promise it will be delicious.

Cover and bake at 325F for about 40 minutes. Make sure you are using an oven proof dish and lid!

After 40 minutes, remove it from the oven and sprinkle all that cheese on top. Turn your oven on to broil and place it back under the broiler for about 4-5 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

Serve hot with lots of crusty bread. Don't expect there to be any leftovers!

What could be more important than a little something to eat?