1 Pack 10-12 Chicken Thighs,- bone in and skin on.
1 Pack Pepper Gravy
1/2 Cup pine Nuts
1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs (Italian Style Preferred)
1 Pack Crumbled Sausage (6-8 oz), pork or other.
1 Pack Bacon - the cheap stringy stuff is preferred.
Dry Marsala Wine
Vinegar - Your Choice
Freezer Bags (optional)
4-5 Medium Yellow or Red Potatoes
Bundle of Asparagus - @ 1lb.
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
1/2 medium sized red opinion
4-6 Cloves fresh Garlic, sliced.
Part 1: Prepare the Meat
I like the chicken thighs from Walmart. They are cheap, large and you can get 10 to a pack.
Remove the skin and trim excess fat from the thighs. I like to leave some fat on because it contributes to the taste.
I don't really subscribe to the theory that free-range, organically fed, emotionally enhanced chickens put to bed with classical music at night are any better than the Walmart variety.......the only noticeable difference to me is the cost.
Bone the chicken thighs. This is easily done with a small, sharp knife. Start at the top and peel the meat down, around and off of the bone.
Set the bones aside. These will be used for the gravy.
Flatten out each chicken thigh with your fist, not a mallet. Mallets tear up the meat. A fist doesn't.
When the flattening is complete, trim back to solid meat and set the smaller pieces aside.
Set the bones and meat aside, take a couple minutes and clean up the food preparation area.
Part 2: The Stuffing
1/2 Cup Pine Nuts
1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
1 Pack Crumbled Sausage (6-8 oz), pork or other.
Mix together in a bow with a fork: pine nuts, sausage crumbles, egg and package chopped fresh rosemary.
Add 1/2 cub bread crumbs to the mix and combine.
It should end up looking something like this.
Part 2: Stuffing and Boiling
Place one chicken thigh on a piece of foil.
Note: poke around inside the thigh meat and you will feel a pocket. You can widen that pocket out to accept even more stuffing.
The amount of stuffing each thigh can hold is a little more than a tablespoon.
Roll up the thigh and wrap with one strip of bacon in most cases. Sometimes two pieces are required.
Wrap the stuffed chicken thigh in foil and double-seal the edges.
At this point, spare thighs can be set aside and frozen for up to three months or so. Use a freezer bag and don't forget to mark the contents with a magic marker so that three months from now, you'll know what the things wrapped in tin foil, were.
For the other chicken thighs, bring a pot of water to boiling and drop in the thighs. Boil for 30 minutes.
Remove the wrapped chicken thighs and place on a plate to cool. Do NOT drain any liquid.
Part 3: The Gravy
As the Brits say, gravy is the easiest thing in the world to bollox up and while that is true, I've managed to make the process pretty much idiot-proof. Took a while, though.
Anyway, take the chicken bones and the leftovers from pruning the thighs, and put in a quart pot with water, a little salt and pepper.
Bring to a slow boil and skim the scum as it rises to the top. Keep at a slow boil and reduce by about 50%.
45 minutes or so later, this looks good enough to me.
Strain the mix, leaving liquid in the pot and chicken bones and bits in a bowl.
Toss out the bones and keep the chicken bits, mixing them with any leftover stuffing and refrigerate.
By this time, the foil-wrapped chicken should have sufficiently cooled.
Remove the foil, keeping any excess liquid on the plate and refrigerate the thighs
Pour the liquid into the gravy stock.
Add one half-cup dry Marsala wine and stir.
Follow the directions on the back of the package and add in the peppered gravy mix.
Bring to slow boil once again and this time reduce by about 20% or whatever tastes good.
The idea is to end up with a medium thick gravy.
Part 4: Appendages
While the preceding was going one, the mushrooms were fried and set aside.
The potatoes were cut up into chunks, fried / parboiled (to keep them moist) and set aside to cool.
A little extra olive oil is added to the now-cooled potatoes.
I suppose if you really wanted to spice it up, you could add some of the Manhattan as well.
Put the potatoes back on the stove, heating them back up on a medium-low setting and proceed on to Part 5
Part 5: Putting it all together
Time to get all this finished up. Carl and Carol, visiting from Maryland had quite the flight to get out here and one day later, are quite hungry.
Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to a pan large enough to hold at least six chicken thighs and heat to medium high.
Add the chicken thighs when the oil is good and hot.
Oh.........covering is a good thing. Fry for three or four minutes a side. You're looking for a crisp outside and thoroughly heated inside.
So what we have going on here is parboiled asparagus spears and garlic with a little butter (top left); reheating potatoes (top right);
fried chicken thighs (bottom left); chicken gravy (still reducing).
Ten minutes or so later, the chicken thighs are done. Remove these and set aside.
Dump the oil from the bottom of the pan and return same to the stove.
Add a tablespoon of vinegar to the still hot pan and use a spatula to work up anything stuck to the bottom of the pan.
This was probably the idea of someone of French ancestry and while I'm still not sure it actually contributes in any meaningful matter to anything (much like the French), it doesn't actually hurt anything (much like the French).
Add the now-reduced gravy to the mix, stirring in those charred bits of vinegar infused tailings.
Add the thighs back in, cover and reduce to low heat.
Add into the now heated potatoes, stuffing, chicken bits, mushrooms and red onion.
Fry until the onions are translucent - 4 or 5 minutes.
At this point, the chicken should be hot, gravy infused and done. Remove the chicken, a little gravy and set in a warm bowl or plate.
Add the potato mixture to the gravy and blend in.
Assemble the pieces, add a little garnish and there you have it.