On Sunday we had a great time. Charles and Christine were visiting from California so Ryan and Betsy came over. It felt a lot like most of last year's weekends, when we all had dinner together so often. The difference was that half the night wasn't spent with Ryan, Christine and I laboring over some biostatistics or epidemiology homework while our spouses chilled out and drank wine. The other difference was that Charles and Christine weren't going to be around during the next week to do the exact same thing all over again. We made chicken stew and tried not to dwell on it.
Simmered a couple handfuls of parsley and a few sprigs of thyme with 2 cups chicken stock and a bottle of decent merlot. I made Charles open it and he thought we were going to drink it so he had to be distracted by another bottle. Let reduce down at a light simmer for 30 minutes. Strained out herbs and set aside. Meanwhile, cut up about 5 pieces of thick-sliced bacon into 1/4" bits and browned it in the dutch oven. Removed and drained pieces of bacon on paper towels and set aside. Drained off most of the bacon fat and set aside. Seasoned with salt and pepper a little more than 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Sautéed briefly in two batches in bacon fat (added about a tablespoon with each batch) just to brown each side. Removed to a dish and set aside. Melted a couple tablespoons of butter in same dutch oven and added a package (the ususal fresh-packaged size from the market, I think it is 8 ounces) of quartered cremini mushrooms, and a package of frozen, peeled pearl onions (thawed & drained). Stirred over good heat in the butter until browned. Added two cloves of minced garlic, stirred around a bit, then added 1 tablespoon tomato paste and 2 tablespoons flour sprinkled over top. Stirred and combined all well together. Added reduced wine from earlier and made sure to scrape browned bits off bottom of pot while stirring. Added chicken back to pot along with bacon, brought to boil, then covered and reduced to simmer for 25 minutes, stirring a couple times. Removed chicken, turned up heat and stirred frequently to thicken and reduce into a glossy sauce. Turned off heat, added a tablespoon of butter, and additional 1 tablespoon of whatever wine was in my glass. Replaced the chicken into sauce and added 2 tablespoons well-minced parsley.
Steamed a couple heads of broccoli with stems and also had a loaf of bread in the oven to crisp.
Later that night we made brownies, which reminded me of Charles and Christine's house because it always seemed like they had a package lying around waiting to be made by epidemiology students who didn't feel like working on their projects.