Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Roasted Chicken with Tomato and Mushroom Ragout

On my last night with my family in Louisiana, we spent the evening at home and with each other on a cold and wet Louisiana winter night. My Aunt Donna and my sister came over and mom again let me take over her kitchen. I cooked up a feast solo this time as friends, Chris and Melissa, left that morning to return to Boston a day ahead of me. I rolled out my specialty, roasted chicken, and made a beautiful ragout of mushrooms and tomatoes for my dad, who loves tomato sauce.

I’ve already written about my roasted chicken; so I won’t bore you with the specifics of how I prepared them, but if you want to read about my method, click here. It always results in a delicious and succulent bird that is sure to impress and is a good bit easier than a lot of recipes I have read. My ragout also turned out very nicely with deep, rich flavors of red wine and smoky bacon. I made use of the chicken parts that come inside the bird which are sadly discarded by lots of folks by making a quick stock of sorts to add body to the tomatoes. These steps can be taken while you are roasting the chicken, and at the end of their cooking time, you will have a hearty sauce. Plus, it gives you something to while you are waiting!

Tomato and Mushroom Ragout

2 can whole peeled tomatoes, drained, crushed, and seeded
1 can tomato paste
1 pound mushrooms, washed and quartered
1 cup mirepoix (carrot, celery, onion)
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
½ bottle dry red wine

For the stock:
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of tarragon
1 sprig of thyme
2 chicken necks, hearts, and livers (from 2 whole chickens)
1/4 cup mirepoix (carrot, celery, onion)
  1. Start the stock by browning the chicken parts in olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Salt them liberally while turning them in the hot oil.
  2. Add the mirepoix and continue to sauté until tender and onions are translucent.
  3. Add the herbs and cover with water. Add and salt and pepper and reduce heat to a simmer.
For the Tomato Sauce:
  1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, brown the bacon and render the fat over medium high heat.
  2. Add the mushrooms in batches and brown them in the bacon fat. Do not crowd the pan or the mushrooms will steam. Salt them to draw out the water. Add olive oil if necessary.
  3. Add 1 cup of mirepoix and sauté until the vegetables are tender and the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the garlic and sauté
  5. Add the tomato paste and caramelize it a little before adding the two cans of tomatoes and red wine.
  6. Cover the pot and cook for a half hour or so.
  7. Strain the chicken stock into the tomato sauce and allow the entire mixture to simmer and reduce for about another half to forty-five minutes uncovered.
  8. Taste for seasoning and correct with salt and pepper if necessary. You can also add butter or more olive oil at this point for more richness if you like.
I served the ragout over toasted French bread, but pasta would work nicely as well.

with wine: I served Campo Viejo's Rioja Crianza.  It's aged in oak for a year and made mostly from Tempranillo with some Garnacha and Mazuelo, an obscure blending grape.  It had nice round red fruit flavors with and a sweet oaky finish that balanced out the hearty savory flavors of the ragout.  It's a good value around $10 and goes great with food or on its own.

Bon appétit!

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