1/2 cup lardons (4 ozs -- 1-by-1/4-inch strips of blanched slab bacon or salt pork - see Special Note below)
2 1/2 to 3 lbs frying chicken parts
2 tbs. butter
1 tbs. olive oil (or good cooking oil)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 or 2 large cloves of garlic, pureed
1 imported bay leaf
1/4 tsp or so thyme
1 large ripe red unpeeled tomato, chopped, (or 1/3 cup canned Italian plum tomatoes)
3 cups young red wine (Zinfandel, Macon or Chianti type)
1 cup chicken stock (or more)
Beurre manie, for the sauce (1 1/2 tbs. each flour softened butter blended to a paste) (For the Paleo version, use coconut flour or almond flour)
Fresh parsley sprigs (or chopped parsley)
1/3 cup good brandy (optional)
12 to 16 small brown-braised white onions
3 cups fresh mushrooms, trimmed, quartered and sautéed
Browning and simmering the chicken. Before browning the chicken, sauté the blanched bacon or salt pork and remove to a side dish, leaving the fat in the pan. Brown the chicken in the pork fat, adding a little olive oil, if needed. Flame the chicken with the brandy, if you wish -- it does give its own special flavor, besides being fun to do. Then proceed to simmer the chicken in the wine, stock, tomatoes and seasoning. Simmering the chicken. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper; return it to the pan. Add the browned onions, and the garlic, bay, thyme and tomato. Pour in the wine and enough stock barely to cover the ingredients. Bring to the simmer; cover, and simmer slowly 20 minutes, or until the chicken is tender when pressed. Finishing the chicken -- the sauce. Remove the chicken to a side dish, and spoon surface fat off the cooking juices. Pour the juices (and onions) into a saucepan and taste very carefully for strength and seasoning. Boil down rapidly if it needs strength, adding more of the seasonings if you think them necessary. Off heat, whisk the beurre manie to make a lightly-thickened sauce. Bring briefly to the simmer -- the sauce should be just thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. Wash out the casserole; return the chicken to it, basting with the sauce and onions.
Finishing the dish. Strain, degrease, and finish the sauce, also as described. Strew the braised onions and sautéed mushrooms over the chicken, baste with the sauce, and simmer a few minutes, basting, to rewarm the chicken and to blend flavors.
Special note: To blanch bacon or salt pork: When you use bacon or salt pork in cooking, you want to remove its salt as well as its smoky flavor, which would permeate the rest of the food. To do so, you blanch it -- meaning, you drop it into a saucepan of cold water to cover it by 2 to 3 inches, bring it to the boil, and simmer 5 to 8 minutes; the drain, refresh in cold water, and pat dry in paper towels.