The cousin closest to me in age is my cousin Diane, who lives in Houston now with her Italian husband and three kids. Today she gave birth to the third, a son (their first), whom they named Matthew Francis.
This recipe is hereby named after him; I was going to make this tonight anyway, but when I came back from my swim, I had a text message saying Diane “had been delivered” (love that phrase) of a baby boy.
When I cook, I add the dates I cooked recipes on the recipe page, so I can see how frequently or infrequently I make things. The last time I made this was on Diane and Matthew’s anniversary (Matthew is her husband’s name as well). So this dish has their family written all over.
Baby Matthew won’t be eating this for awhile, but I can image the rest of his family eating this. And since they’re Italian and from Texas, the cayenne pepper in the dish is just right for them.
Spicy Chicken Thighs For Matthew Francis
adapted from a Mario Batali recipe in The Chew cookbook.
6-8 chicken thighs (one package)
kosher salt, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/2 c. chicken stock/ broth
1 tsp. saffron
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons cilantro, for garnish
1 scallion, chopped, for garnish
Season the chicken with salt and cayenne, to taste (if you’re making this for the first time, season only ONE side, to see how spicy it gets. Remember–you can add spice, but you can’t take it away!).
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and brown, cooking 4-6 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.
Add the onions and cook for another 8-10 minutes on medium heat, until brown and soft. Let them caramelize a bit, so lean toward the 10 minute time. Once to desired brownness, add the flour and stir in. Add more salt and cayenne, if you’d like.
Stir in the chicken stock and add the chicken pieces back in. Add saffron and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is tender.
Serve on a large platter; add garnishes.