Chicken Provencale with Star Anise

This wonderful and easy (if time consuming) recipe comes from the February 2005 Bon Appetit. Star Anise (spice) is hard to find. If you don't find it, the recipe comes out wonderful anyway.

You can just slice up 3 onions to use in place of a bag of pearl onions (which are time consuming to peel and all that - but they look pretty when you serve the dish.)

I never do the last step of preparing a gravy. By that point, I'm done with cooking! I just add a handful or two of the pitted Kalamata olives to the dish. I do recommend adding the olives.

6 to 8 servings

Preheat oven to 350. Blanch onions in pot of boiling water 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer onions to bowl of ice water; cool 5 minutes. Drain onions; peel.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large wide ovenproof pot over high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, cook chicken until browned, about 12 minutes per batch. Transfer chicken to plate. Drain all but 3 tablespoons drippings from pot. Add (yuck) mushrooms and onions; saute 7 minutes. Add star anise, bay leaves, and garlic; saute 3 minutes. Add wine and tomatoes and boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 8 minutes. Stir in chicken broth. Return chicken to pot, pressing to submerge. Cover, place in oven, and cook until chicken is very tender, about 1 hour.

Transfer chicken to plate; tent with foil to keep warm. Boil sauce until reduced to 7 cups, about 20 minutes. Mix butter and flour in small bowl. Gradually whisk butter mixture into sauce. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add olives to sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Return chicken to pot; simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes.

A note about star anise: Star anise is a dark brown star-shaped seedpod native to China. It has a flavor reminiscent of aniseseed, but softened by sweet spices. The ground version is one of the ingredients in Chinese five-spice powder. Look for star anise in the spice section of some supermarkets and at Asian markets.
Marianne Mueller
Last modified: March 30, 2005