2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced
3 shallots, peeled and diced
8 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
3 sprigs parsley — 2 bay leaves — 5 branches thyme
1 1/2 bottles good quality Merlot or Red Zinfandel
2 large chickens (3 1/2-4 pounds each), cut up
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil — 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup cognac — 2 cups chicken stock (store bought is OK)
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 ounces thick- sliced apple- wood-smoked bacon, diced
1 basket pearl onions, blanched and peeled
1 pound button mushrooms, quartered
2 tablespoons chopped parsley for garnish
Note: Marinate the chicken overnight and add cocoa powder to the sauce. Leftovers are great the next day spooned over wide noodles.
Place the onions, shallots, garlic, parsley sprigs, bay leaves, thyme and wine in a large non-reactive bowl. Add the chicken, and stir to mix well. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.
Remove the chicken from the wine marinade; reserve the marinade. Dry the chicken pieces with paper towels, and season them generously with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy casserole over high heat. Add the chicken in batches to avoid crowding the pan. Brown the chicken well on all sides. Remove the pieces when browned, and set aside.
Add the flour to the casserole and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
Return the chicken to the casserole, stir and add the cognac. Remove the casserole from the heat, carefully ignite the cognac, and let the flames burn out.
Add the marinade to the casserole, and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, scraping up all browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the chicken from the casserole and set aside. Strain the sauce through a sieve. Discard the solids, and return the sauce to the casserole.
Put the cocoa in a small bowl; add about 1/2 cup sauce, and whisk until smooth. Add the cocoa mixture to the casserole, turn the heat to high, and boil the sauce until it is reduced to about 4 cups.
When the sauce is reduced, lower the heat to medium-low and return the chicken to the casserole to heat through.
Meanwhile, saute the bacon in a large skillet. As it begins to brown, add the pearl onions and then the mushrooms. Let the mixture cook about 10 minutes until lightly colored.
Remove the mixture from the skillet with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the skillet, and add the solids to the chicken. Stir to combine, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.
PER SERVING: 480 calories, 38 g protein, 8 g carbohydrate, 31 g fat (7 g saturated), 113 mg cholesterol, 711 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.