Chicken Gratin with Onion Sauce and Gruyere

Whenever possible, choose fresh chicken over frozen—it's moister and more flavorful. If you buy it vacuum-packed, check for water in the package, which indicates that the bird may have been frozen.
Photo by Heather S.

PREP TIME

--

minutes

TOTAL TIME

--

minutes

SERVINGS

4

servings

PREP TIME

--

minutes

TOTAL TIME

--

minutes

SERVINGS

4

servings

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt

  • One

    3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces

  • 2

    tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2

    tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2

    yellow onions, finely chopped

  • 3/4

    cup finely chopped shallots

  • 1 1/4

    cups dry white wine such as Bourgogne blanc

  • 1/2

    cup creme fraiche

  • 4

    tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 5

    ounces Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated

Directions

Generously salt the chicken on all sides. In a large saute pan, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat until the butter melts. Working in two batches if necessary, cook the chicken until rich golden brown all over, 10 to 12 minutes per batch, reducing the heat if it threatens to burn. (To avoid overcooking them, remove any thinner breast pieces just before they're cooked through.) Transfer to a plate, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and place in a very low (200°F) oven. Pour off all but about 4 tablespoons of the fat and place the pan over medium heat. Add the onions and shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until pale gold at the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the wine. Simmer for 2 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits. Return the legs and thighs to the skillet along with any accumulated juices. Cook at a bare simmer for 10 minutes, turning the pieces after about 5 minutes. Add the breast pieces and cook for 5 minutes longer. Check to make sure all the chicken is just cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Whisk the creme fraiche, mustard, and 1 teaspoon of salt into the pan juices until well mixed. Preheat the broiler. Evenly distribute half the cheese over the bottom of an earthenware or glass baking dish just large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer. Arrange the chicken on top of the cheese. Pour all the onion sauce evenly over the chicken and top with the rest of the cheese. Broil until bubbly and just a little golden in spots. Serve immediately from the baking dish, spooning additional onion sauce over each portion. To cut up a whole chicken to get the 8 pieces called for here—2 semi-boneless breast halves, each cut in half to make 4 pieces; 2 thighs; and 2 drumsticks. With the bird breast-side up, slit the skin between the thighs and breast, pull the thighs away, and cut through the exposed ball-and-socket joint. Then, cut each leg in half through the joint between the thigh and drumstick. Next, remove the first two wing joints attached to the breast (reserve these and the carcass for stock). To remove the breast halves, cut straight down along one side of the breastbone-its entire length—until the knife meets the rib cage. Then, begin drawing the knife toward you in long strokes where the breast meat meets the ribs, gradually separating the breast meat from the curve of the ribs and "peeling" the breast away from the ribs with your free hand as you cut. Spin the bird around 180 degrees and repeat with the second breast half. Cut each half again crosswise to make 4 pieces of breast meat.

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