Chicken with Walnuts and Lemon, from the Dordogne

Chicken with Walnuts and Lemon, from the Dordogne

Recipe excerpt from:
Plat du Jour: French Dinners Made Easy
by Susan Herrmann Loomis

Serves 4 to 6
Equipment: large heavy skillet with a lid, tongs
Preparation Time: 10 minutes if the chicken is in pieces; 20 if not
Cooking Time: 40 minutes max
Difficulty Level: simple

This is a dish from a farm in the Dordogne, where the walnuts are sweet, fat, and buttery tasting, and they make a perfect complement to poultry. This is the kind of dish that you settle down to with comfort and anticipation, because it’s got all the right elements, from cloves of garlic bursting with their sweet flavor to the golden chicken and walnuts and the tang of lemon that lifts the dish out of the ordinary. Serve this with a lovely Chardonnay.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • One 3½- to 4-pound (1.8 to 2 kg) chicken, cut into 8 pieces (2 breast pieces, 2 wings with portion of breast attached, 2 legs, 2 thighs), giblets reserved
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1½ to 2 cups (375 to 500 ml) white wine, such as a sauvignon blanc
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 1¼ cups (140 g) walnut halves or large pieces
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs for garnish
  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, brown the chicken pieces, seasoning them liberally with salt and pepper, until they are golden, about 5 minutes per side, using tongs to turn the chicken pieces.
  2. Add the lemon juice, ½ cup (125 ml) of the wine, and the garlic cloves to the skillet. Lower the heat to medium, cover, and cook until the chicken is nearly cooked through, about 15 minutes. Then stir the walnuts into the skillet, along with the giblets, cover, and continue to cook for about 8 minutes. Remove the cover from the skillet and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the pan juices have evaporated and the chicken, walnuts, and garlic are golden, 5 to 8 minutes. Be sure to watch the walnuts, for they tend to brown easily. If they are getting too brown at any point in the cooking, remove and return them to the pan just before serving.
  3. Transfer the chicken, garlic, and walnuts to a warmed serving platter and deglaze the skillet with the remaining wine, scraping the bottom to loosen any caramelized bits. Begin by adding the smaller amount of wine; if you need more, top it up with the remaining wine and cook until the sauce is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Then pour the sauce over the chicken, garnish with the parsley sprigs, and serve immediately.

Recipe from Plat Du Jour – French Dinners Made Easy by Susan Herrmann Loomis.  Used with permission.

Pumpkin Risotto

by Chef Elizabeth Whitt

Serves 8

1 onion, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, divided
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cups Arborio rice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup white wine
5-6 cups chicken broth
1 small baking pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-2 inch pieces
1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino
1/4 cup cream (optional)

Heat broth in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, add pumpkin or butternut squash and a few pinches of salt, turn off heat and let sit until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Remove squash with a slotted spoon and set aside until rice is done. Heat a 4-to-5-quart saucepan over medium heat and add onion and 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Cook until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.  When onion is tender, add the rice and cook stirring frequently for about 1 minute, to coat the grains of rice. Add the wine and begin adding broth 1-2 cups at a time and continue to stir often. Your liquid should be at a constant simmer so adjust your stirring or your heat to achieve tiny bubbles. Once the rice has absorbed most of the liquid add more.  Begin tasting the risotto after you have added half of the broth. When it is cooked it should be tender but not mushy. Continue adding broth until it has reached correct consistency, about 20 minutes.  Add cheese, cream and 1 tbsp. butter and stir until combined.  Fold in squash, check for seasoning and serve.

Oven Baked Method: Heat a large oven safe skillet or Dutch oven over high heat. Add oil, onion, salt and pepper and sauté until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add rice, more salt, white wine, cubed but uncooked butternut squash and 4 cups chicken broth and stir until combined. Bring broth to a boil, cover and bake in oven at 400 until rice is done, about 15-25 minutes. Check cooking after 15 minutes and add more broth if needed. When rice is just or almost done, add in cheese, butter and cream if desired and let rest 10 minutes and serve.