I’m about to admit something incredibly weird. I really like onions. I may even love them. I remember frying them up in butter and eating them on toast for a cheap snack in college. One of my favourite kitchen smell to this day is the smell of onions frying. It’s not a stretch to admit, then, that I absolutely adore French onion soup. Sure, it’s melted cheesy goodness, and its delightful doughy croutons are fabulous, but I truly love that stuff for the onions. So, when I was home with the kiddos last Thursday, and saw Chef Michael Smith whipping this recipe up on the Food Network, I just know I had to try it.
I wasn’t disappointed with the final result. I took some liberties with the recipe and took the time to carmelize the onions. This really intensified the flavour and the richness of the stew.
French Onion Chicken Stew
8 chicken thighs
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
2-3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
10-12 small onions, sliced
4 cups real chicken broth
1/2 cup sherry
1 bay leaf
1 16-oz bag baby spinach
In a large skillet over medium high heat, splash in a pool of olive oil then add the butter to the center of the oil. Use half the oil and butter in this step. This will help add the flavour of butter without burning the butter. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, dust off any excess, carefully position in to the skillet and brown on all sides, doing so in batches if necessary. Reserve the chicken pieces on a plate.
Pour in the other half of oil and butter into the pan. Add the onions and a splash of water, salt and pepper. Stir well, then cover with a tight-fitting lid. This will capture steam and help the onions release all their moisture. Cook, stirring now and then, until the onions soften and become quite wet, about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until all the water has evaporated. Lower the heat a bit and slowly begin to caramelize the onions, stirring them frequently. This will take about 45 minutes.
After the onions have caramelized, add half the onion mixture to your slow cooker. Arrange the chicken pieces over the onion and arrange the remaining onion mixture on top. Pour on the broth and the sherry. Toss in the bay leaf and thyme. Cover, and cook on high for about 4 hours.
Before serving, pull the bones from the chicken, stir in the spinach. Stir to wilt the spinach and serve.