Out of all the things to bring back home from my Coachella weekend in April, I managed to bring home a Le Creuset. Packed snugly in my duffle bag with packaging paper, a small pillow I used for camping, multiple scarves and sweaters, it actually made it safe and sound back to Edmonton. Albeit it was checked by US security (I picture security guards wondering why on earth you’d put that in a duffle bag), but my baby made it back.
I’ll tell you why it’s my baby. Number one: it’s my first cookware I have ever owned. For those of you unfamiliar, I still live at home. I dream of copper cookware sets, an island to do my prep work, knives tailored to my own hand and not my mother’s. Knife, I have bought. Island, it’s in the process of being built, but in two year’s time I will have it. Cookware is a whole different ballpark. Not only expensive, they take up space in my mom’s kitchen — space that we don’t even have. So it’s crucial that if I do buy something, it better be multifunctional: stove-top and oven proof. Stylish yet classic. Heavy duty quality!
Number two: it’s a Creuset. It’s made in France (all hail the French for their culinary knowledge) and known for their pigmented enamel glazed cast irons. I’ve been told to get a cast iron pan or pot. At least one and that’s all I’ll ever need in my lifetime. Why does it have to be black…? I’d like to see some color in my kitchen. Art piece if you will.
Number three: it was on sale. I bought it at an outlet outside of LA, which I didn’t even know they had. Bonus!
When I got home from my trip, I had the house all to myself. My parents had left for Vegas and the kitchen was mine. Time to take over and cook what I want! No more stir fries!
First step was finding a recipe that was suitable for my new cookware. The Kitchn had caught my eye a week earlier with a braised French onion chicken dinner, mimicking French onion soup. Yum! First step was caramelizing the onions to get that depth of flavor. After browning the chicken and deglazing the pan, I threw everything into my Creuset.
Fast-forward 30 minutes and I’ve got myself a nice stew of French onion base and moist chicken. Note to self, must buy a meat thermometer. Can’t have myself cutting up meats to check if they’re fully cooked all the time! The recipe calls for Gruyere afterwards but I figured this looked good enough as it is. Gruyere would have made it outstanding though. Easiest recipe ever, and it was delicious! I ate it with toasted French bread and used the soup as a dipping sauce. Love love!
Here’s the recipe, which I followed almost exactly! I cut the recipe in half (only my lonesome at home!) and was lighter handed with the Dijon mustard, more like 1/2T instead of the 1T it would have called for.
Braised French Onion Chicken with Gruyère serves 4 to 6 (source)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 pounds onions, sliced into thin half-moons
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 small sprigs thyme, leaves only
- 4-inch sprig rosemary
- 2 cups chicken broth, divided
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 ounces Gruyère cheese, finely grated or shaved (about 1 cup)
Melt the butter in a deep 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted completely and foams up, add the onions. They will fill the pan to the top, at this point. Stir as you add the onions to coat them in the butter. Sprinkle lightly with salt and black pepper. Cook the onions for about 40 minutes over low or medium heat, stirring occasionally.
When the onions have developed an evenly light beige color throughout, add the garlic, thyme leaves, and whole rosemary sprig, and cook for a few minutes more, stirring frequently. Turn the heat up to high and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently. You want dark, slightly burnt spots to appear on the onions, and for them to develop a rich mahogany color. When the onions get quite dark, add 1 cup of the beef or chicken broth. Add it slowly, stirring and scraping the pan vigorously to scrape up any burnt or stuck-on bits. When the liquid has been added, bring it back up to a simmer and simmer lightly for 5 minutes, or until it is somewhat reduced.
Take the onions off the heat and pour them into a 3-quart oven-safe dish with a lid. (If you don’t have a Dutch oven or another oven-safe dish with a lid, you can use a 9×13-inch baking dish. Just cover it tightly with a double layer of foil.)
Heat the oven to 325°F.
While the onions are cooking, brown the chicken. Heat another 10-inch or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken thighs dry and season lightly with kosher salt and black pepper. When the skillet is hot, add the thighs and brown for about 3 minutes on each side, 6 minutes total. When they’ve developed a golden-brown crust, remove from the pan and set on top of the caramelized onions in the baking dish.
Add the remaining 1 cup broth to the pan. Stir vigorously, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until reduced by half. Pour this sauce over the chicken and onions, and put the lid on the baking dish. The chicken and onions will look quite saucy; there will be plenty of liquid in the baking dish.
(At this point you can refrigerate the dish for up to 48 hours. Let it sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before baking, or else add about 5 minutes to the bake time.)
Bake at 325°F for 30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and turn the heat up to broil. Take the lid off the baking dish, and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top of the chicken. When the broiler has heated up, return the dish to the oven and broil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden on top.