A Revised Chicken Maxango
I say revised because this is one of my earliest Reluctant Gourmet recipes and after making it for 10 people recently I realized I would prepare Chicken Maxengo differently from the original recipe. This new version is a lot easier because of some shortcuts added and clearer descriptions.
This is a great recipe to practice how to saute and braise since both techniques are used. I tripled the recipe and served it to ten people at a dinner party, but this recipe is for four to six people depending on what kind of eaters they are. My wife and I wanted to prepare something that we could prep ahead of time with very little fussing once our guests arrived. Once everything was prepped and in the pot, you can relax and spend some time with your friends.
If you have any qualms about serving chicken at a dinner party, get over it. My friends all loved it and said would be delighted if served this in a restaurant, my test that the dish is a hit. We “gourmeted” the dinner up by serving crab cakes as an appetizer and fancy fresh green beans (haricots verts), rice pilaf and sautéed spinach with roasted pine nuts.
The original recipe comes from GatewayGourmet.com, a site about making restaurant quality soups and sauces at home. They also promote some of my favorite stock reductions including a product called Glace de Poulet Gold which is basically a roasted chicken stock reduction. You make your own Glace at home by reducing chicken stock in half but I do recommend checking out these products.
The recipe calls for one whole chicken about 3 pounds or 2 1/2 pounds of chicken breasts & chicken thighs, bone in or boneless with skin on or off – your choice. If you want more flavor, go with the bone in and skin on. If you want easier prep and less fuss when eating, go boneless & skinless.
If you are using a whole chicken, cut it into pieces, and season with salt and pepper. You will only be using the breasts, thighs and legs. You can use the rest to make a nice homemade chicken soup or chicken stock.
If the chicken breasts are really big, I recommend you cut them in half with a cleaver or large chefs knife. If you are using chicken pieces, wash them off and pat dry with paper towels then season with salt and pepper.
1 whole chicken about 3 pounds, cut up into pieces
salt and pepper
flour for dredging
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
12 peeled pearl onions
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 roma tomatoes (peeled, seeded, and crushed) or 1 - 14 1/2 oz can of crushed tomatoes (easier) 2 cups of roasted chicken stock reduced by half
1 bouquet garni
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup quartered mushrooms salt and pepper to taste
How To Prepare At Home
Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour. Be sure to knock of any extra flour from the chicken pieces or you will end up with clumps of flour in the pan. I just hit two pieces together to remove excess.
Heat up a large saute or fry pan over medium high heat. The size of the pan is important. It has to be big enough to hold all the chicken and other ingredients including the stock.
You may have to saute the pieces a few at a time so you don't crowd the pan but in the end, all the ingredients have to go back into the pan. And make sure you have a tight fitting cover for the pan.
When I made this for 10 people, I used my favorite Le Creuset Oval French Oven. (French version of a Dutch oven). I love using this pan for recipes like this plus stews & casseroles. It is great for browning, searing , slow-cooking, simmering or reheating foods.
Heat the pan over medium high heat for a couple of minutes and then add the oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Let the pan get hot but not smoking. Brown the chicken pieces. You just want the skin to brown for appearances. The actual cooking of the chicken will come when you braise it.
Add the garlic, onions, tomato puree, tomato paste, reduced chicken stock and bouquet garni. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until chicken is tender. This is the braising process.
While the chicken is simmering, sauté the mushrooms in remaining butter. When they start to turn brown and the released juices have evaporated, add wine and then cook for a couple of minutes. Then add them to simmering chicken.
When the 40 minutes are up, you should be ready to serve. If you are not ready to eat, no big deal. Just reduce the heat to a low simmer or turn the heat off completely.
I like to serve this recipe with some sort of rice. White rice, brown rice, basmati rice, rice pilaf or how about some parpadelle pasta....your choice. I would even try a couscous.
When you are ready to plate, spoon some rice onto the plate, top with a piece of chicken and then spoon some of the incredible mushroom filled sauce over both. Garnish with chopped parsley, plate a vegetable and serve.
This one is a keeper.
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