This recipe came about on a trip to Italy with some friends. We used a rooster instead of a hen, because that was what the local butcher had on hand. Assuming that the bird would be tougher than a standard chicken, we decided to braise it in red wine (of which we had plenty). Much to our delight, the chicken was both tender and flavorful, infused with the richness of the wine and leeks. This dish reheats beautifully (especially if you use all dark meat) and is great for serving a crowd. Just expand the recipe for a larger group. —Merrill Stubbs
chicken parts, on the bone (preferably dark meat)
leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and sliced finely to make about 2 cups
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Rinse the chicken parts in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Put the flour in a shallow baking dish and add a generous pinch of salt, stirring with a fork. Evenly coat the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour, patting them gently to get rid of any excess.
Using a wide, shallow, ovenproof casserole, heat the olive oil for about 2 minutes over medium heat. Starting with the skin side down, add half of the chicken pieces and brown well on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and repeat with the rest of the chicken. Set chicken aside and cover loosely with tin foil.
Discard about half the oil and return the pan to medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for about 5 minutes, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the leeks and garlic are lightly browned. Add the red wine and simmer for 3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any remaining brown bits. Add the stock, rosemary and the chicken pieces, turning to coat in the sauce, and return to a simmer. Cover tightly and put in the oven.
If you are using white meat, it should be done after about 15 minutes. Check to make sure the juices run clear when you slice into the meat with a sharp knife, remove from the pan and keep covered with foil in a warm place while you return the casserole to the oven for another 15 minutes to finish cooking the dark meat (if using). Once all of the chicken is cooked and set aside, return the pan to the stove and simmer the sauce over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, until it is substantially thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste and return the chicken to the pan, coating in the sauce. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes to warm the chicken and serve immediately.