1/2 cup lardons or bacon, cut into 1/4- by 1 1/2-inch strips
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into parts, thoroughly dried
1/4 cup Cognac or Armagnac
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
20 pearl onions, peeled
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups red wine, preferably WALT Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir
2 cups brown chicken stock
1 or 2 garlic cloves, mashed or minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, trimmed and rinsed
1. Toss the lardons in a 12-inch cast iron skillet along with oil over medium or medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer the lardons to a plate, leaving the drippings in the skillet.
2. Heat the drippings over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, being careful not to crowd the pieces. Cook the chicken, turning frequently, until nicely browned on all sides.
3. Carefully pour the Cognac into the pot and wait until it begins to simmer. If desired, ignite the sauce with a match. Let it flame for a minute, gently tilting the pot by its handle and swirling the sauce to burn off the alcohol. To extinguish the flames, simply cover the pan with its lid.
4. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf and thyme to the pan and then nestle the onions around the chicken. Cover the pot and let the chicken simmer gently, turning the pieces once, for about 10 minutes.
5. Uncover the pot, sprinkle the flour over everything, and turn the chicken and onions so the flour is absorbed by the sauce. Cover and cook, turning once or twice, for 3 to 4 minutes more.
6. Remove the pot from the heat and gradually stir and swirl in the wine and enough stock to almost cover the chicken. Add the lardons, garlic, and tomato paste to the skillet, cover, and gently simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken pieces to the plate when they’re done. Continue to cook the rest of the chicken a few minutes longer.
7. If the onions are not quite tender, continue cooking them in the sauce, then return the chicken to the pot, add the mushrooms, and simmer 4 to 5 minutes. The sauce should be just thick enough to lightly coat the chicken and vegetables. Taste the sauce and correct the seasoning accordingly.
8. Enjoy with 2015 WALT Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir!
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