Chicken and mushrooms just seem to go together. I guess mushrooms go with a lot of things. They are earthy, meaty, hearty and add flavor at the same time as they take on flavor. They’re kind of the slut of the culinary world (I mean that in a totally good way). But they’re especially slutty (again, in a good way) with chicken.
This dish started out as one of those one-pot recipes where I would brown chicken legs and thighs in a Dutch oven and add chopped onion, sliced mushrooms, chicken stock and cornstarch. Throw that in the oven for a half hour and it’s done. I usually use shiitake and oyster mushrooms but it will work with any mushrooms. I also use cornstarch to thicken instead of flour because it’s easier and you only use half as much cornstarch.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was tasty. Still, it was missing something. I added different herbs and seasoning but something was still missing. Turned out it was technique.
As I was discussing this dish with Alexis, the food stylist, we realized it really wasn’t going to photograph very well. It was a very monochromatic final product which, quite frankly, looked bland. We talked about a different way of presenting the essence of this dish and basically transformed it into a better recipe for the shoot.
Preheat oven to 350°. Generously season quartered chicken with salt, pepper and paprika. Heat up an oven-safe skillet, add olive oil and place chicken skin down in the skillet. When the skin side is lightly browned, flip pieces over. When bottom side is browned, remove from stove and place into the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes.
Get a sauté pan nice and hot on the stove and add olive oil. Just as the olive oil is about smoke, add sliced mushrooms. The high heat will brown the mushrooms before they release their liquid, giving them good color and flavor. Once the mushrooms are seared on both sides remove them from the heat. Set mushrooms and liquid aside. Sauté the onions in the same pan until they are translucent. Just before they are done, add the garlic. Remove from heat and then add the mushrooms and juices back into the pan.
When the chicken is done remove from oven and place aside to rest. Deglaze the skillet with chicken stock. Add chicken stock to the onions and mushrooms and bring to a slow boil. Dissolve cornstarch into a quarter cup of cold water. Reduce heat to low, pour cornstarch mixture into pan and slowly stir until thickened.
Plate the chicken quarters and spoon mushroom gravy over the pieces. You can do this family-style or one plate at a time.