The sweetness of the prunes and brandy here is countered by the addition of chicken livers and Dijon mustard. If you’re squeamish about liver, feel free to leave them out. The dish won’t have quite the same richness, but I’m sure it will still be good. Served with roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts, this made a great dinner for a cozy night in.
Originally posted at strawberryplum.com. —Sarah Fioritto
Test Kitchen Notes
"Amazing! The most deliciousness I've ever had," my six-year-old son exclaimed at his first bite of this dish. There are three notable things about his statement. Number one: My son eats to live, rather than lives to eat. Excitement about any food other than dessert is not one of his typical expressions of emotion (although he does enjoy cooking). Number two: Imagine his small stature, enthusiastically embracing an entire bronzed chicken leg. It was quite a sight. Number three: He was spot-on in his appraisal of the meal. The chicken is rich and flavorful, easy enough for weeknight fare but definitely appropriate for company. The sauce, which comes together while the chicken is braising, is a silky mixture of brandy (I used Calvados because I had it on hand), slightly sour-sweet prunes, and deeply flavorful shallots and chicken. Dijon mustard adds bracing balance. I did not use chicken liver because I did not have any, but you can bet I will next time. I’m already dreaming of doubling the recipe for a dinner party, using chicken thighs (more dainty, less daunting than whole legs for all), and I look forward to others' expressions of happiness at first bite! —gingerroot
whole chicken legs, trimmed of excess skin and fat and patted dry
Season the chicken legs on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat butter and olive oil together in a large ovenproof skillet (I used cast-iron) over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken skin-side down until golden and crisp, about 8 minutes. Flip and sear on the meat side another 2 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Drain most of the fat from the pan, leaving just a thin coating. Add the shallot, season with a pinch of salt, and sauté until the slices begin to wilt. Add the prunes and the brandy. Allow the brandy to boil off, about 1 minute.
Add the chicken legs back to the pan, skin-side up, along with any juices that may have accumulated on the plate. Add chicken stock to cover most of the meat, leaving the skin exposed, and tuck in the thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Bring the stock up to a simmer, then transfer the pan to the oven to finish. Braise in the oven until the chicken is very tender and cooked through, about 40 minutes.
When the chicken has finished cooking, transfer the chicken legs and prunes to a warm platter and loosely tent with foil. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves from the pan juices and discard. Using a blender or mini food processor, purée the livers with the Dijon mustard. Add the liver and mustard mixture to the pan juices. Whisk over medium heat until smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 8 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and prunes and serve.