Like most good food geeks, we subscribe to several food and cooking magazines – Bon Appetit, Cook’s Illustrated, Food & Wine, Gourmet and Everyday Food.  Whenever the mail brings a new issue, I gleefully chant “Foodie Magazine Day!  Foodie Magazine Day!” like a drunken Adam Sandler, circa 1995.  And more often than not, the new magazine is perused in its entirety before the weekend is out.  So what do we do with all that glossy paper once we’ve read through?

Before we started Capital Spice, the answer was “not much.”  I would make it a point to save some of the recipes that caught my eye, but I didn’t always follow through on trying them afterwards.  But now, inspired by the guys at The Bitten Word, we’ve got an incentive to put our subscriptions to use on a semi-regular basis.

I give you the inaugural “Foodie Magazine Day” post – a write-up of our efforts to recreate a recipe taken from one of the magazines we subscribe to.  

In this case, the recipe is from the current issue of Gourmet.  To be honest, this is probably my least favorite of the foodie mags we get, because it’s really more of an aspirational magazine – features on culinary classes all over the world are nice, but of limited utility at this point in my life.  Even so, it provides some very creative (and high-end) recipes if you take the time to look for them.  And their focus on the exotic results in some menus that are guaranteed to stretch your culinary boundaries – though you may have to make a trip to a specialty store or two for some of the ingredients.  For this dish, I had to track down fresh curry leaves…after a few false starts, I found them at Eastern Market, where a produce stand at the rear of the hall carries a wide range of fresh herbs and vegetables year-round.

I followed the recipe for these aromatic braised chicken thighs to the letter, but I opted to forego the fried onion accompaniment.  I’ve included the full recipe, so if you try them together please share your thoughts on the onions!  We found the chicken to be moist and tender (the dark meat holds up to slow-cooking a lot better than white meat would have), and the fragrance of the simmering chicken really whetted our appetites.  Served with a cup of the ‘Seafood Refresco’ from Chris’s Marketplace, a favorite producer at the Dupont Circle and Penn Quarter Farmers’ Markets, it made a great weeknight dinner and provided plenty of leftovers for lunches.  My only complaint is that it’s not the most attractive dish in the world – the addition of the fried onions and rice in Gourmet’s images still results in a rather brown, monochromatic presentation.  If you want a more enthusiastic reception, you may want to serve this accompanied by a green salad studded with colorful peppers or radishes.

Recipe after the jump.

Aromatic Braised Chicken with Fried Onions
Gourmet, May 2008, p. 79

2 1/2 lbs. chicken thighs with bone, skin discarded (I bought boneless thighs to begin with)
4 medium shallots, quartered
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger
2 sprigs fresh curry leaves, leaves removed from stems
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
10 whole cloves
1 one-inch piece cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1/2 cup water

About 2 cups vegetable oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 teaspoons all-purpose flour, divided

>Toss all ingredients except water, oil, onion and flour with 1 teaspoon salt in a wide heavy medium pot.  Marinate chicken, covered and chilled, 1 hour.

>Add water and bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, until chicken is tender (40 minutes to 1 hour)

>Meanwhile, heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat until hot but not smoking.

>Toss onion with 1 teaspoon flour, then fry in 2 batches, stirring frequently (do not let burn) until golden brown (2 to 3 minutes per batch).  Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels.  Reserve 3 tablespoons oil.

>Remove chicken from cooking liquid, reserving liquid, and gently pat dry.

>Heat reserved oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then brown chicken all over, about 6 minutes total.  Transfer to a platter.

>Add remaining 2 teaspoons flour to fat in skillet and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Add chicken-cooking liquid (with aromatics and spices) and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened (about 2 minutes).  Season with salt and pour over chicken.  Top with fried onions.