Prunes and the sweetness from the liquor used in this recipe are typical of northeastern Italy and the Fruilian region. Serve with a simple side disk like roasted red potatoes and rosemary.
- 12 dried prunes, plumped in 1/2-cup warm liquor (brandy, grappa, Sambuca)
- 2 ounces pancetta, coarsely chopped
- 1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces (breast cut in two, leg and thigh) or 8 chicken thighs, rinsed and dried
- Salt and pepper
- 2 leeks, whites only, thinly sliced (substitute 1 small yellow onion if needed)
- 4 large shallots, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1 cup brown chicken stock
Place the prunes in a large Pyrex measuring cup. Add the liquor and toss to coat. Microwave on high for 1 minute and let stand until ready to add as indicated below.
In a heavy casserole and cook the pancetta until light golden brown and the fat has been rendered out into the pan. Remove it to a plate, using a slotted spoon.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In the rendered fat from the pancetta, brown the chicken on both sides, then remove it to a plate. Drain all but a small amount of the fat.
Add the leeks (or onions) and shallots and saute. Add the thyme, bay leaf, wine, and chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to dislodge the browned bits. Bring to a simmer and return the chicken to the casserole.
Cover the casserole loosely and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the soaked prunes and their liquids and simmer another 30 minutes, until the chicken is very tender and falling off the bone.
Remove the chicken to a plate and add the pancetta .
Reduce the sauce for 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Return the chicken and pancetta to the sauce, let rest to cool, then reheat gently and serve.