This is the absolute best perfect cold-weather chicken recipe. The acidity from the white balsamic vinegar cuts into the richness of the crème fraîche for a dinner that is simple enough for a night in and elegant enough to serve at a party.
Skill Level: Easy
Time to Make: 1 hour 15 minutes (30 minutes inactive)
6 whole chicken legs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 Vidalia onion
12 ounces baby bella mushrooms
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 cup crème fraîche (or heavy cream)
1 cup frozen peas
A dash of cayenne powder
Prepare Ingredients: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper and set aside. Trim the leeks and cut in half lengthwise and thoroughly wash. Cut into 1” pieces. Thinly slice the Vidalia onion. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and leave the caps whole or halved. Mince the mushroom stems. Pick the thyme leaves from the stems and discard the stems.
Cook the Chicken: In a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over medium high until very hot. Cook the chicken, skin side down, without moving for 5-6 minutes until well browned. Flip and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and leave the skillet on medium high heat. Note: You may need to cook the chicken in batches for even browning.
Cook the Vegetables: Add the onions and mushrooms with their stems to the hot skillet and cook for 5 minutes. Add the leeks and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring regularly, until softened. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Note: The mushrooms will release liquid, continue cooking until almost all the liquid in the skillet has evaporated.
Assemble the Sauce: To the skillet of vegetables, add the white balsamic vinegar and the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Transfer the vegetable mixture to a large roasting pan. Arrange the chicken legs, skin-side up, on top of the vegetables. Transfer to the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reaches 165ºF in the thickest part of the chicken leg.
Finish the Sauce: Transfer the chicken legs to a serving plate and return the roasting pan with the sauce to a burner on the stove and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes until the liquid has reduced a bit. Stir in the thyme and crème fraîche and cook until thickened, an additional 3-4 minutes. Stir in the peas and cook until bright green and cooked through, about 5 more minutes. Taste and season accordingly and add a dash of cayenne powder if desired. Remove from heat.
To Serve: Add a few ladles of the sauce to bowls and serve with a chicken leg on top. Enjoy!