This recipe from the February 2008 issue of Bon Appetit features a delicious sauce of shallots, Armagnac, prunes and thyme. Brown the chicken and remove it from the pan, leaving a lovely fond in the bottom. Add the shallots, Armagnac (I used regular brandy, which was fine), stock, prunes and thyme and bring to a boil. Add the chicken back in and simmer until cooked through. Remove the chicken again, stir vinegar into sauce, season and pour the sauce over the chicken. This is a tasty weeknight meal and would also be great for a casual dinner party.

Avoiding additives and preservatives

The items in this recipe that could contain additives and preservatives include the prunes, chicken broth, and sherry wine vinegar. Look for prunes without sulfites added and an additive-free stock such as Imagine brand. Instead of sherry wine vinegar, try a balsamic vinegar containing only naturally occurring sulfites. I use Acetaia La Bonissima Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (Green). It is reasonably priced and imported by Sarafino in Uxbridge. You can find a list of where to buy Sarafino products in Ontario at

Boil prunes in Armagnac

Brown chicken well on all sides

Brown shallots

Add broth, prunes and thyme sprigs

Return chicken to pan and simmer until cooked

Chicken with Shallots, Prunes and Armagnac


1 cup large pitted prunes (about 20)

2/3 cup Armagnac or other brandy, divided

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 4-pound cut-up free-range chicken

12 large shallots, peeled

1 ¼ cups organic chicken broth

3 large fresh thyme sprigs plus 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon Sherry wine vinegar


Boil prunes with 1/3 cup Armagnac in small saucepan until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Cover and set aside.

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add to skillet, skin side down; cook until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings. Add shallots; cook until browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1/3 cup Armagnac; boil 30 seconds, scraping up browned bits. Add broth, prunes, and thyme sprigs; bring to boil. Add chicken in single layer, skin side up, and any accumulated juices. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 17 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate.

Stir vinegar into sauce; simmer until thickened, 3 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with chopped thyme. Serves 4.

From the February 2008 issue of Bon Appetit