Seriously Simple: Make-ahead braised chicken warms up chilly nights
2. Place the bacon pieces in a large deep saute pan, large enough to fit the chicken on medium heat. Saute the bacon pieces, turning to evenly cook, for about 6 to 8 minutes or until very crisp and brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Reserve.
3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown the chicken in the bacon fat over medium-high heat, turning to evenly brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. You can do this in batches. Remove to a side bowl and reserve.
4. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the fat and add the onions to the pan. Cook the onions, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until light brown. Add 1/2 cup red wine and deglaze the pan. Uncover and cook another 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized.
5. Add the carrots and saute for 3 minutes or until nicely coated. Add the garlic, reserved strained mushroom liquid, remaining 1/2 cup of red wine, tomato paste, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste; bring to a boil on medium-high heat, scraping up the brown bits.
6. Decrease the heat to medium and add the reserved mushrooms and chicken. Turn the chicken to coat it completely and cook skin side up. Cover and braise on low heat, turning once, for about 25 to 30 minutes or until no pinkness remains in the chicken pieces. If the pan gets dry add a little more wine.
7. Remove the chicken pieces to a platter. Add the balsamic vinegar to the sauce and boil down for a minute. Add the reserved bacon and taste for seasoning. Return the chicken to the pan or pour the sauce over the chicken on the platter. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.
Advance preparation: This may be made one day ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature and reheat in a 350 F oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including "Seriously Simple Parties," and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)