May 17, 2010 | Meat & Poultry
I’ve been trying to recreate the recipes I made at the cooking school in Italy while they are still fresh in my mind, so I was excited last week when some clients asked me to cook an entire meal of my favorites. This chicken dish is one of the rare times I really ate meat during my travels, but it was memorable more for the technique than the fact that I hadn’t had meat.Vin cotto is literally “cooked wine” in Italian – the grape must is cooked down before it’s fermented into a thick, syrupy concoction that tastes a little bit like liquid figs. I couldn’t find true vin cotto anywhere in Denver, so decided to improvise, starting with some dried figs.I’ve had this fig sauce on my shelf for some time and figured this was the perfect time to use it……so I combined it with the figs and some of this really good balsamic vinegar from the Colorado Winefest weekend this past year and let it all simmer and reduce.After a quick whirl around the blender I had something that resembles vin cotto.The technique, in typical Italian style, couldn’t be more straightforward. Brown chicken thighs (bone in has more flavor but I used boneless for the dinner party). Work in batches so you don’t crowd the pan, setting them on a platter while you finish the rest. Then everything back into the pot along with a bottle of red wine, some fruity black olives and a good handful of fresh thyme. Let it all simmer until really tender, then stir in the vin cotto right before serving.
Chicken Vin Cotto
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 large chicken thighs without skin
1 bunch thyme
2 cups black olives, cut in half
1 bottle red wine
1 cup vin cotto
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and sear on all sides until very well browned. Add thyme, olives and red wine, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vin cotto just before serving.
Vin Cotto Substitute (if you can’t find true vin cotto)
Yields about 1 cup
1/4 cup diced dried figs
3/4 cup fig confit sauce
3/4 high quality balsamic vinegar
Bring all ingredients to a simmer and cook until reduced to about 1 cup. Puree in the blender, taking care to allow the steam to escape.