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    Recipes: Comforting old-fashioned chicken and spring peas for dinner

    Two chicken dinners starring early summer’s favorite vegetable: peas.

    Braised Chicken With Peas and Mushrooms
    photographs by anthony tieuli; food styling by sheila jarnes
    Braised chicken with peas and mushrooms.

    As a kid, I loved the chicken with peas and mushrooms that was part of my family’s regular dinner rotation. That exact recipe is long gone, but here I’ve developed a facsimile (minus the 1970s Romertopf clay pot my stepmother used) that hits the spot, along with a version using spring onions and saffron instead of mushrooms.

    Frozen peas are certainly easy and work beautifully, but when fresh peas appear in the early summer I prefer their terrific flavor and texture, and the romance of celebrating their season.

    BROWNING INSTRUCTIONS 

    If you choose to use thighs, you may have to remove some of the rendered fat from the pan before proceeding with your chosen recipe.

    2teaspoons vegetable oil
    1chicken, about 4 pounds, cut into eight serving pieces, or 3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed, rinsed, and dried
    Salt and pepper

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    In a large, straight-sided saute pan or braising pan over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Sprinkle the chicken all over with salt and pepper, arrange the pieces skin side down in the skillet (do not crowd — work in batches, if necessary) and cook, undisturbed, until skin is browned, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken and continue to cook, undisturbed, until second side is browned, about 5 minutes longer, adjusting the heat if the fond threatens to scorch. Transfer the chicken to a large plate and repeat with remaining pieces, if necessary. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin.

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    If necessary, pour all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan.

    Note that this chicken will not be cooked through and ready to eat. Rather, it’s ready to be braised (to finish cooking) in one of the following recipes.

    Braised Chicken With Peas and Mushrooms

    Serves 4

    If you’d like to enrich the dish and give it a gentle, tangy note, stir in about 3 tablespoons of creme fraiche along with the parsley at the end of cooking.

    1pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
    Salt and pepper
    2tablespoons unsalted butter
    1cup finely chopped shallots (about 4 medium)
    1teaspoon minced fresh thyme
    tablespoons all purpose flour
    ¾cup dry white wine
    ¾cup low-sodium chicken broth
    Chicken browned for braising (see browning instructions)
    2cups (one 10-ounce package) thawed frozen or shelled fresh peas
    teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    ¼cup chopped fresh parsley

    Start with the pan, with the reserved 1 tablespoon of fat in it (see browning instructions). Adjust the heat to medium, add the mushrooms and ½ teaspoon salt, toss to coat, and cook, stirring, until mushroom liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Scrape the mushrooms into a medium bowl and set aside.

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    Add the butter to the pan, allow it to melt and swirl it in the pan to coat. Add the shallots, thyme, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring constantly, for 1½ minutes. Add the flour and continue to cook, stirring, about 1½ minutes longer. Add the wine and bring to a simmer, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen and dissolve the fond; continue to simmer, stirring, until liquid is thickened and slightly reduced, about 1½ minutes longer. Add the broth and stir vigorously to incorporate.

    Add the chicken with its accumulated juices (reserve the breast pieces, if using) and return to a simmer. Adjust the heat to very low, cover the pan, and simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 40 minutes, turning the chicken over and adding the breasts, if using, after 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter, tent loosely with foil to keep warm, and set aside.

    Add the cooked mushrooms and peas to the pan, adjust the heat to medium-high, and bring to a strong simmer. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the peas are tender and heated through but still bright green, about 2 minutes longer. Add the lemon juice and most of the parsley and stir. Adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary, and pepper to taste. Return the chicken to the pan and heat, turning the chicken occasionally, until it is warmed through, about 2 minutes longer. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley, and serve at once.

    Braised Chicken With Peas, Spring Onions, and Saffron

    Serves 4

    12spring onions (about 2¼ pounds), roots trimmed if necessary and greens trimmed to about 3 inches; 8 onions halved lengthwise and 4 onions chopped
    Salt and pepper
    2tablespoons unsalted butter
    1teaspoon minced fresh thyme
    tablespoons all purpose flour
    ¾cup dry white wine
    ¾cup low-sodium chicken broth
    Chicken browned for braising (see browning instructions)
    ¼teaspoon crushed saffron threads (.25 grams)
    2cups (one 10-ounce package) thawed frozen or shelled fresh peas
    ¼cup chopped fresh parsley

    Start with the pan, with the reserved 1 tablespoon of fat in it (see browning instructions). Adjust the heat to medium, add the halved spring onions and ½ teaspoon salt, toss to coat, and arrange them cut side down in a single layer. Cook the onions, undisturbed, until the cut sides are browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer the onions to a plate and set aside.

    Add the butter to the pan, allow it to melt and swirl it in the pan to coat. Add the chopped onions, thyme, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring constantly, for 1½ minutes. Add the flour and continue to cook, stirring, about 1½ minutes longer. Add the wine and bring to a simmer, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen and dissolve the fond; continue to simmer, stirring, until liquid is thickened and slightly reduced, about 1½ minutes longer. Add the broth and stir vigorously to incorporate.

    Add the chicken with its accumulated juices (reserve the breast pieces, if using) and return to a simmer. Adjust the heat to very low, cover the pan, and simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 40 minutes, turning the chicken over and adding the breasts, if using, after 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter, tent loosely with foil to keep warm, and set aside.

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    Add the reserved halved onions to the pan, adjust the heat to medium-high, and bring to a strong simmer. Cover and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes.

    In a small bowl, mix the saffron with 2 tablespoons hot water until tinted and fragrant. Add the saffron mixture and peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender-firm when poked with the tip of a paring knife and the peas are tender and heated through but still bright green, about 2 minutes longer. Add most of the parsley and stir. Adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary, and pepper to taste. Return the chicken to the pan and heat, turning the chicken occasionally, until it is warmed through, about 2 minutes longer. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve at once.

    Adam Ried appears regularly on “America’s Test Kitchen.” Send comments to cooking@globe.com.