Sometimes the best recipes come from ransacking cupboards and fridge. The forgotten ingredient is often your closest ally, and so it is with this dish that contains some left overs from Christmas - dried fruit and Marsala wine. The flavors are quite Sicilian. That tiny group of islands with one foot in Europe and one foot in Africa, is home to some truly exotic and exciting food.
A word on pans. This works best if you have a wide pan that is somewhat deep and preferably not non-stick. I like to use my Le Creuset dutch oven, but it has also worked well in a cast iron skillet. What ever you use, you need a lid. You can substitute the Marsala with medium sweet sherry, vermouth or wine.
- 1/4 cup of raw pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon of light olive oil (NOT extra virgin)
- 4 - 6 chicken thighs preferably with skin(depending on the size)
- A 4 oz package of pancetta
- 1 large garlic clove finely chopped
- 1/2 cup of Marsala wine
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped rosemary
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped sage
- 1/4 cup each of raisins and dried cranberries
- In a small NON-STICK frying pan on a low heat, dry roast the pine nuts.
- The nuts should be in a single layer in the pan. You will need to shake the pan often to ensure the nuts are colored all over.
- When they are a rich golden brown and start to release their earthy fragrance, remove from the heat and set aside.
- In your large pan with a lid, heat the oil on a medium high heat
- Brown the thighs, you may have to do this in batches, don't overcrowd the pan.
- Once browned remove them to a plate.
- Add the pancetta to the pan and reduce the heat to medium, you may have to add a little oil but be judicious, the pancetta will have its own fat that will render down.
- Let the pancetta cook until it starts to go brown.
- Add the garlic and cook briefly
- Now add the wine to de-glaze the pan. Use a wooden spoon to loosen any crusty bits, this where the magic flavor resides! Let the wine reduce so you don't have that nasty alcohol taste.
- Return the chicken to the pan.
- Add the herbs, fruit and salt and you can add a little hot water if you think the wine is drying up too quickly.
- Turn the heat low, cover.
- Cook for about 20 - 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through (not pink). Turn the pieces of chicken once at about the halfway mark.
- Check for seasoning.
- Scatter the pine nuts over the chicken.
- Serve with rice, pasta, potatoes, bread - anything to soak up the velvety juices - plus salad.
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