Photo & recipe by Romanian Food for Foreigners
Time: About an hour and a bit, depending on which cuts of chicken you use
Servings: Enough for four people
1 whole chicken (or a pack of your favorite parts)
1/2 a cup of plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
Cooking oil (olive oil, butter, vegetable oil – I like a little olive oil with a knob of butter for richness)
1 large onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed, chopped, or sliced
1 glass of white wine
800g of chopped peeled tomatoes (2 cans will do if you don’t have fresh tomatoes)
1 or 2 bay leaves
A few sprigs of thyme
A little stock (optional)
1. If you are using a whole chicken, remove the breasts and cut each in half, remove the legs and cut them at the knee to give you two drumsticks and two upper thighs, and remove the wings. If you like, you can make a good stock out of the carcass for a chicken soup or for adding to the sauce later if it is a little thick.
2. Dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour and put them in the pan, in which you have heated up the oil/butter to a moderate temperature. Let each side brown and turn them. Once browned all over, remove to a dish. Cook in batches if necessary.
3. Into the same pan, throw the onion and allow to soften, stirring frequently, for a couple of minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Use a wooden spoon to mix them well with the chicken-flavored oil and the bits of the remaining flour.
4. Deglaze the pan with a glass of white wine, scraping the side, and mixing well. Turn up the heat a little and allow the wine to reduce until the smell coming from the pan is less alcoholic and the sauce is a little thicker.
5. Pour in the tomatoes and their juices, the bay leaves, and the thyme, and bring back to the boil. Once it has returned to the boil, reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to combine all the ingredients. Once the sauce is well mixed, put the chicken pieces back in, cover the pan, and simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes. Check the thicker pieces of chicken after this time to see if they are cooked to the center and continue cooking if they are still pink.
6. Once all the chicken pieces are thoroughly cooked, remove them from the serving dish. If the sauce is a little thick, you can add a few splashes of stock. If it’s a little thin, you can add a knob of butter and a tablespoon of flour and thicken it up. The sauce for ostropel is usually quite thin – not quite a soup, but not a thick gloopy sauce.
7. Serve the ostropel de pui with polenta or mashed potatoes, and hot chili pepper on the side.