This is a recipe that I’ve been meaning to share for months. I had planned, in fact, to include it in my post about Madeira wine and the sea back in November. But then that post got too long with all its history and its drinking recommendations. And then the research involved in it tired me out on delicious nautical wines for a while. And then one thing led to another and — oh, look at that! — it’s almost February.
But please don’t take my tardiness on the Madeira braised chicken front to mean that I don’t absolutely adore it. That would be the exact opposite of the truth. And if you were to pass over this recipe just because it was a long time coming, it would make me — personally — very sad for you. Because this is, I think, the single best chicken recipe I’ve posted here at Twice Cooked.
There’s a moment in Edith Wharton’s piercingly funny, devastatingly beautiful novel, The Age of Innocence, when Mr. Sillerton Jackson — consummate dinner-guest and even more consummate gossip — weighs the relative burdens and benefits of dining in the home of the Archer family. The food, he muses, is inevitably far from good. But the conversation is sure to be fascinating. And at least — luckily, he thinks — the Archer Madeira had gone round the Cape.
I’ve read The Age of Innocence many times over the years, and even taught it. But that comment — that at least the Madeira had gone round the Cape — has always confused me. Because what I’ve always known about Madeira wine is that it is very sweet (sort of like port), and that it is either very bad or very expensive (neither of which holds a whole lot of appeal). And nothing else about it has seemed particularly relevant to my life, or to my tastes.