Sunday, March 30, 2014

Chicken with Shallots from Sam Sifton in the New York Times Sunday Magazine via Rishia Zimmern adapted from Martha Stewart

Sam Sifton 
As fond as I am of the current food crew at The New York Times, I still miss Sam Sifton.  He was the Deputy Dining Editor in 2001 when he was almost instantly tapped to become the Dining Editor a position he held till 2004.  He was with the Times a Culture Editor from then until 2009.  That year he took over from Frank Bruni and became the Restaurant Critic for the Times.  The burnout rate for that job is high: Sifton ate out almost nightly until his last restaurant review appeared almost two years to the day that he started.  But for all of us who miss him, Sifton has graced the Food page of the New York Times Sunday magazine periodically ever since.  And one of those times was a recent Sunday when the recipe I am sharing today appeared.  It was wildly popular--so popular in fact that one of its key ingredients completely disappeared from some grocery stores.

A woman named Madeline commented on the recipe with the following: “I went to my Bedford, Mass., Whole Foods today and found the shallot bin completely empty and only a few boxes of the on-sale organic cherry tomatoes.  Inquiring about shallots, the produce guy said, “You’re about the fifth person to ask”, so I would think the recipe caught on.”         
Rishia, Noah and Andrew Zimmern
I can promise it “caught on” with me.  It’s got all the things I look for in a recipe: an easily achieved cooking process, an ingredient I love (chicken thighs), a luscious pan sauce, great color on the plate and it’s a one-pot wonder.  It also has a pedigree that intrigued me.  The Zimmern name may be familiar to you.  Andrew Zimmern, husband of Rishia, has made a career out of eating the impossible: Everything from Pork Brain Tacos to a Goat Butter Burger have appeared on the aptly named “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel.  Rishia has managed to maintain some semblance of normalcy in the family’s home kitchen in Minnesota.  The story goes that Rishia was determined to move beyond the Foreign Cookbooks lining her kitchen. She subscribed to Martha Stewart’s now defunct “Everyday Cooking” which is about as far from Bizarre America as you can get.   That’s where she found the original recipe.  Being creative in the kitchen, Rishia didn’t leave well enough alone.  She changed the preparation of the chicken and the complement of herbs and spices.   Andrew changed it some more, adding lemon juice.  This change elicited this classic remark from the Zimmern’s son Noah: “Mom’s is way better”.  I noted that the recipe omits the lemon.  I followed to the letter even down to the crusty bread Sifton recommended. 
         One more thing:  If you find yourself in Madeline of Bedford’s predicament without a shallot in sight, Sifton offered the following: “Shallots are in the onion family. And you could certainly use onions — sweet ones, if you can find them — in their place. I might add a wee bit of garlic, just half a clove, as well.”  Here is the recipe:

Recipe for Chicken with Shallots from Sam Sifton via Rishia Zimmern via Martha Stewar
Serves 4 to 6.  Easily Halved (as shown). Active Time 40 minutes. Total Time 90 Minutes.

       8 Skin On Chicken Thighs
       2 tablespoons flour
       1 tablespoon kosher salt
       1 tablespoon ground black pepper
       2 tablespoons unsalted butter
       12 to 15 whole medium shallots, peeled
       2 cups white wine
       2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 sprigs tarragon
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half.
Rinse chicken thighs in water, and pat them very dry with paper towels. Sprinkle over them the flour, salt and pepper.
Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or skillet set over medium-high heat. When the butter foams, cook the chicken, in batches if necessary, until well browned and crisp on all sides. Set aside.

Add the whole shallots to the pot and sauté them in the butter and chicken fat until they begin to soften and caramelize, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Add the wine to deglaze the pot, stir with a large spoon, then add the mustard and tarragon, then the chicken thighs. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid, and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken, 15 to 20 minutes.
Add the cherry tomatoes to the pot, stir lightly to combine and serve immediately.


  1. Had this recipe for dinner Saturday night at a friends house. You are right- absolutely delicious!

    1. And Beth, it has the distinct advantage of being budget friendly, easy to make and especially easy to clean up after!

  2. Kate from Alberta here:

    Some months ago, a reality check in the mirror had me shunning all things Jacques, Julia, and Monte, ;)

    Yet, finally one morning -- I realized, sacre bleu! I had succeeded. I was below my fighting weight!!!

    Feeling very, very hungry and very much in need of all things olive oil, crème and beurre, I was most delighted when this recipe showed up in my email box.

    And so, rubbing my hands with glee, I began to cook --- I absorbed the experience! became one with the chicken! sucked in those drool worthy smells! cooked with wine (and even put some in the food) and was rewarded with an unspeakably, exquisite dish!

    It was beyond words delicious, delectable and it filled every void I hadn't nurtured and nourished these past months of purgatory. Oh, sigh, why can I not cook and eat like this every day and still, somehow, magically remain a size 7?

    Thanks for the rhapsodic experience, Monte!!!

    1. Dear Kate, What a wonderful comment and so beautifully written. I don't think this dish is a diet buster--at least I can't think why it would be. But I so happy you liked it. It really is a keeper. As are you for even whispering my name next to those two giants! All best, Monte