Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Mystery of the Missing Chicken Recipe

Gleefully reconstructed by Mary Jame Maffini aka Victoria Abbott

We interrupt this recipe to congratulate CAROL B who won the Pug in a Mug from our Book Club post!   Happy sipping!

Are there tastes from your childhood that you long to revisit?  My mother was a gifted, natural cook back in the day when glowing green jelly salads abounded.  I have fond memories of the dinner where she tried this recipe: a windy, brisk day when children playing outside developed serious appetites.  This was our reward.   I know she found the recipe in a cookbook, but I have never found that book. Or maybe I did, because, knowing my mother, she would have fiddled about with the recipe.  She knew her way around a kitchen and liked to put her own stamp on things.

Now that the evenings are getting nippier, we are turning out thoughts to soups, stews and braising chicken and meat.  So it was time to test it.

Here’s my reconstruction. Of course, it can’t match the ‘real thing’ in my memory, but it was a hit around here.  Best of all it was so easy! If we ever write the chicken mysteries we keep talking about: this will be The Mystery of the Missing Recipe or perhaps The Case of The Vanished Dinner

 In earlier attempts, I used onion and garlic.  Good, but not the taste I remember.

For the wine, we use Vinho Verde, a light Portuguese wine available very reasonably priced under a couple of labels. It is light, not too sweet and not too acidic.

You will need: 

4 large chicken breasts with skin on and bone in, cut in half  or 8 thighs with skin on and bone in. ¼ cup of flour
1 tsp sea salt  and 1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter
One tablespoon fresh thyme leaves and a few extra sprigs for garnish
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Juice of half a lemon
½ cup wine

This recipe is easy to double and worth it too.

Put flour, S & P in a plastic bag and shake it up.  Add chicken and shake until well coated.
Heat oil and melt butter in pan.   I used my braising pan.  I suspect my mother used a cast iron pan of some kind to braise the chicken.

Add chicken and brown on both sides.   Don’t crowd the pieces.


Add wine. (Have a glass yourself if you’d like) Heat on high for a couple of minutes to burn off the alcohol.  Add lemon, thyme and parsley.


 Spoon juices over chicken.  Reduce to low heat and cover.  Cook about 45 minutes, just until chicken is cooked through.
Baste with pan juices.  Transfer to a platter and add a couple of sprigs of thyme to garnish. 
Heat pan juices to thicken and ladle over chicken.  

We just served it with a salad of tomatoes fresh from the garden,baked sweet potato cubes, and green salad. Crusty bread would be also great. 

This is is almost as good as the one I remember. So simple and yet … Victoria remembers this from her childhood and she says this time I got it.  And it the way of braised and stewed foods, it’s even better the next day. We had it for dinner the night we were planning our book launch for The Wolfe Widow.

Speaking of ... The Wolfe Widow was released on September 2nd!

That shadowy figure known as Victoria Abbott is none other than  the artist and photographer Victoria Maffini and her mother Mary Jane, author of three other mystery series.  Find out more about Victoria Abbott and Mary Jane Maffini by clicking those links.

We are thrilled about the release of The Wolfe Widow, third in the book collector mystery series, and mostly we're very excited that  NOW YOU CAN ORDER IT HERE! 


  1. Congratulations on getting the recipe right. It's so hard to do that. It's lovely and just the kind of thing we love to eat around here! Congrats on the release of THE WOLFE WIDOW, too!

  2. I would, happily, be your "disposal" of the not-right recipes! :)

    patucker54 at aol dot com

    1. We'll put you on the list for first tasters, Patricia! Thanks for coming by.



  3. I love lemon and I love thyme, so this recipe should hit my taste buds just right. Thanks for sharing. I loved The Wolfe Widow!

  4. Thanks so much, Nancy! So glad you liked the Wolfe Widow.



  5. This sounds lovely. What fun to reconstruct a memory dish.
    I've done something like this with white wine and honey mustard. also makes a great sauce.

    1. Honey mustard? You're on, Libby!

      Thanks for coming by. XO MJ/VA

  6. Yum! I'm going to apply this to shrimp tonight and will report back. :) Love this kind of dish! Congrats on the release of The Wolfe Widow. Love this series!

    Daryl / Avery

    1. Thanks, Daryl/Avery! I bet it works well with shrimp. XO MJ/VA