You can be easily forgiven if you’re not familiar with sorrel. It’s not a vegetable we see much of here in the states. You may have seen the red-veined variety. It’s often used as garnish on fancy plates – especially the tiny leaves. But I’m talking about garden sorrel, or French sorrel. It’s bright great, hardy, and easy to grow yourself – which is handy because it’s sometimes hard to find in stores outside of major urban areas. Sorrel is sometimes tough and chewy and it’s pretty much always aggressively mouth puckeringly sour. Think of it as the Sour Patch Kids of greens. The sour comes from oxalic acid and other sour compounds in the bright green leaves.
This is probably not convincing you to cook with it.
Despite my less than glowing description, Sorrel is used in traditional and modern dishes all over the world. On both sides of the Mediterranean, it’s used in stews and pastries – often tempered with spinach. In France, it’s the main component of a traditional springtime soup that’s often thickened with eggs and cream. Even bartenders have gotten into the sorrel game, using sorrel juice in place of citrus in some very creative cocktails.
Here, we‘ll use it to simmer and braise chicken – you didn’t think this was going to be a salmon recipe, did you? Like other classic combinations – Chicken with Lemons and Tomatoes or Chicken with Olives, Onions, and Vinegar – the acid helps to balance the richness of the meat and tenderizes the tougher parts of the thigh. That means the results are extra tender and lusciously sour, making it a perfect late spring or early summer dinner.
Cuisses de Poulet à l’Oseille – Chicken Thighs Braised with SorrelCuisine: French
4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
2 cups light chicken stock
2 cups loosely packed French sorrel leaves
1 cup ice cold water
½ cup white wine
1 medium shallot
3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp AP Flour
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh thyme leaves
- Preheat your oven to 350° F.
- Peel, trim, and mince the shallot.
- Add the sorrel leaves and 1 cup of cold water to the container of a blender.
- Process on high until smooth.
- Add 1 tsp of butter to an oven proof pan over medium heat
- Pat the chicken thighs dry, season with salt and pepper, and place in the pan skin side down.
- Cook until browned, then turn.
- Add the minced shallow and thyme leaves and cook until the shallot is translucent.
- Add the water/sorrel mixture, the chicken stock, and wine to the pan, return the chicken to the pan and bring to a simmer.
- Transfer the pan to the oven and cook until chicken is very tender, and the top browned, about 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, remove the chicken and set aside in a warm place.
- Strain the solids from the cooking liquid and return to the pan.
- Whisk the egg yolk in a separate, then slowly add about half the strained hot liquid to the yolk – whisking constantly to temper the egg.
- Return the egg mixture to the liquid, again whisking constantly.
- Once the liquid has thickened slightly, whisk in the remaining two tablespoons of butter, taste for seasoning, and ladle over the chicken to serve.