Chicken is cooked with vinegar, tomatoes and parsley in this...

Chicken is cooked with vinegar, tomatoes and parsley in this version of the classic French bistro dish, Poulet Au Vinaigre. (January 2023) Photo by Marge Perry

There are many variations on the beloved French bistro dish “Chicken in Vinegar Sauce.” As odd as the name may sound, this dish became a classic for good reason: the sauce has robust but balanced flavor, and the chicken is tender and juicy.

The recipe below is not the classic version: it uses far less butter and seasoned rice vinegar, which is less sharp than red wine vinegar. (For the record, even the traditional version, when made correctly, has none of the bite of vinegar)

The dish is very simple to make, and can be on the table in about a half-hour. You can certainly make it with all breasts or thighs if you prefer.

Chicken in Vinegar Sauce

1 5-pound chicken, cut up

1 teaspoon salt, divided

¼ teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 whole garlic cloves

½ cup seasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 (15.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons butter

1. Season the chicken with ¾ teaspoon of the salt and the pepper.

2. Heat the oil and garlic together in a large skillet over medium high. When the oil is hot, add the chicken in a single layer, skin side down. Cook until the skin is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook another 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add the vinegar, water and sugar to the pan and bring to a boil. Pour the tomatoes and parsley over the chicken; reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until and instant read thermometer inserted in the center of the thickest piece registers 165 degrees, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a platter and drape to keep warm.

4. Use a spoon to skim off fat from the sauce. Cook over low heat to reduce the sauce by about a third, which will take 3 to 4 minutes. Use a fork or spoon to mash the garlic cloves; add the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Swirl in the butter until it is melted and the sauce is slightly creamy. Spoon over the chicken and serve.


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