Country chicken

1 frying chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 1/2 lbs onions
4 oz bacon
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)
1/2 Tsp cayenne pepper
black pepper
lard or peanut oil
Freeze the wings for later use. Slice the onions into thick rings. Carve the bacon strips into thirds.

With paper towels, remove the excess moisture from the chicken pieces. In lard, sear the chicken in a large Dutch oven until golden-brown. Remove the chicken from the pan and degrease the pan. Add the bacon (and a little butter). Saute the bacon until golden. Place the onion rings into the pan and turn them for a minute or so. Return the chicken to pan. Throw in the bay leaves, cayenne pepper - and salt and black pepper to taste. Stir the pot regularly and simmer - uncovered - for 50-60 minutes.

If the sauce is to thin, remove the chicken from the pan. Increase the heat. Allow the liquids to reduce. When the sauce barely coats the back of a spoon, cut the heat and return the chicken to the pan. Allow the dish to rest for 5 minutes, covered. Arrange the chicken on a large platter. Ladle the onion-bacon-sauce over it. Serve with toasted, French bread slices.

Onions contain a large amount of water. In the recipe above, this liquid serves as both the braising medium and a tenderizer. The sauce can be enriched with 2-3 oz heavy cream, added during the last 15 minutes of cooking time. The above recipe was adapted from a classic, Northern France dish. It's simple, austere and earthy.