Have you ever heard of chicken a la marinada? I hadn't, until I started flipping through Noni's recipes. Jason doesn't remember this one from his youth at Noni's table, but one of the local supermarkets had a really good deal on Rocky Jr chicken (not organic, but claims to be sustainably farmed) and all of the other ingredients were at hand, so we decided to give it a try.
As I said in my previous post about Noni's pizza, the recipes are often pretty vague. There are two reasons for this: Marsha was writing notes for herself, after observing Noni, and so had no need for extreme specificity (though the next time I see her, I'm sure she'll be able to clarify some points for me). The second is reason is that Noni herself (according to family anecdotes) was, like most skilled home cooks, not a stickler for specificity herself. Most cooking doesn't require it. As a result, it's not likely that most of my attempts at Noni's recipes will result in authentic reproductions. It's hard enough to reproduce a dish I've seen made dozens of times -- everyone's kitchens, and everyone's ingredients, tend to vary just enough to make the produce of each kitchen and each cook unique. However, I can at least capture the spirit of the dishes, and hopefully come up with something equally delicious.
Since I could find no other chicken a la marinada recipes to give me guidance, I had to make some guesses. The directions indicate that the meat is browned, then the potatoes and onions are added, then some wine and mushrooms. Quantities are not specified, nor are cooking times. I'm not even sure what kind of pot or pan is used, which would give me some more clues, though it sounds as if she used a large electric skillet with a lid. The closest thing I have to that is a dutch oven. So, I just did what made sense to me. Even if this turns out to be a wildly inaccurate interpretation of chicken a la marinada, it's a darn good one-pot chicken dish, so I'm happy to share it with you here.
1 whole chicken, 4.5lb chicken, cut into pieces
1 large russet potato
1 yellow onion
1 large carrot (my addition -- carrot is not included in Noni's recipe)
8 oz brown mushrooms
1/2 bottle white or rose wine (Noni's recipe calls for rose, I used sauvignon blanc)
2 bay leaves (my addition)
salt and pepper
Note: I like using a whole chicken and cutting it up myself because I can save bits like the back and neck for making stock, and because it ensures the pieces are all pretty uniform in size. If you'd like to substitute precut chicken pieces, I'd recommend using chicken thighs or leg and thigh pieces, because these pieces hold up well when braised.
Salt and pepper chicken pieces. In a large dutch oven, heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chicken pieces and brown well, then remove from the pan. Add the potatoes and carrots, season with salt, and allow to cook for a few minutes, then add the onions, season with a little more salt, and allow to brown. Add a little of the wine, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the fond (the browned bits) from the bottom of the pot. Return the chicken to the pot, add the mushrooms and bay leaves, and add just enough wine to partially cover the chicken. Bring to a full boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes (thigh meat should be very tender, pieces should have an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees).
Serve the chicken pieces with the vegetables and sauce.