Chef, culinary instructor, cooking show host and James Beard Award–winning cookbook author Joanne Weir has a new collection of recipes out, Kitchen Gypsy, and you’re going to want it. Weir, a veteran of the famed Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, specializes in simple, hearty food, focusing on the quality and availability of local ingredients in order to make meals that are as authentically delicious as they are beautiful to behold. Peruse the recipes, read her excellent tales and tell us you’re not struck with an immediate, urgent craving for blue cheese–stuffed chicken.
- 6 large whole chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 ounces button mushrooms, stem ends trimmed and coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 2 large egg yolks, whisked
- 1/4 cup crumbled bleu de Bresse or stilton cheese
- 1 tablespoon walnut oil
- 3 ounces thick-sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-wide pieces
- 12 shallots, peeled and left whole
- 1/4 cup Sauvignon Blanc or other dry white wine
- 1/2 cup rich veal stock (below) or low-sodium beef or chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- Chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish
Rich veal stock
- 5 pounds veal breast
- 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 thyme sprigs, or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 12 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
For the veal stock
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut between the ribs of the veal breast, separating the breast into 6 to 8 pieces. Put the pieces in a single layer in a roasting pan, leaving space between the pieces. Roast the veal until russet brown on all sides, about 2 hours.
Transfer the veal to a large stockpot. Pour off and discard any fat in the pan, then place the pan over high heat on the stovetop. Add about 1 1/2 cups water, bring to a simmer, and deglaze the pan, stirring to dislodge any browned bits on the pan bottom. Pour the deglazing liquid into the stockpot. Add the onion, carrot, bay, thyme, parsley sprigs, and water to cover by 2 inches.
Bring to a boil over high heat and immediately reduce the heat to low, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Simmer gently, skimming as needed, until the meat is falling off the bone and the stock tastes very rich, about 6 hours. As the level of the liquid decreases in the pot, replenish it with water to maintain the original level.
To ease straining, scoop out and discard the larger pieces with a slotted spoon, then strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl. If using immediately, use a large metal spoon to skim off as much of the fat from the surface as possible. If not using immediately, let cool at room temperature and then refrigerate overnight to solidify the fat. The next day, using a spoon, lift off and discard the fat that solidifies on the surface. Transfer the stock to airtight containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
For the chicken legs
First, bone the chicken legs, keeping the skin intact: Lay each leg, skin side down, on a work surface and, with a sharp knife, make shallow slices on top of the leg and thigh bone to expose the bones. Next, cut down along either side of each bone to expose it completely, then slide the knife under the bones to free them from the flesh. Finally, trim away any strips of white cartilage from the flesh. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper. Set the chicken aside.
In a small frying pan over medium heat, toast the nuts, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Pour onto a cutting board, let cool, and chop. Set aside.
In a large ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they release their moisture and then the moisture evaporates, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and let cool completely. Set the pan aside.
Add the bread crumbs, egg yolks, cheese, and walnuts to the cooled mushrooms, mix well, and season with salt and pepper.
Lay the boned legs, flesh side up, on a work surface. Divide the mushroom mixture evenly among the legs, spooning it into the center, then wrap each leg around the stuffing. Using a needle and fine kitchen string or coarse thread, loosely sew each leg closed, giving it the shape of a small ham.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Wipe out the frying pan, place over medium-high heat, and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken legs and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the chicken legs to a plate. Pour off and discard the excess oil.
Add the bacon and shallots to the same pan and cook until the bacon is golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the chicken, skin side up, to the pan and roast in the oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh registers 165°F, about 45 minutes. Transfer the chicken to warmed individual plates, tent with foil, and drain off any excess oil from the pan.
Add the wine to the pan and simmer over medium-high heat, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add the stock and cream and simmer gently until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, dividing the shallots and bacon evenly. Garnish with the parsley.