Gather your loveys and make a special meal together this weekend to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Yes, I know we just did a chicken thigh recipe last week, but bear with me. This is totally different.
For this recipe, use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Boneless, skinless specimens are just not the same.
To accompany this elegant entrée, delicate, glossy green beans with a bit of crunch are perfect, as is a versatile (almost flourless) chocolate truffle cake. For the day of love, I chose a raspberry accent, but it’s also delicious made with Grand Marnier and marmalade. Use your imagination to come up with your own favorite chocolate enhancements and, above all, this weekend and every day, find ways to connect with those you love.

Chicken Vol au Vent

4 chicken thighs 
2 tablespoons butter 
1 cup chicken stock 
3 tablespoons flour 
1/4 teaspoon paprika 
Pinch of salt and pepper 
1 cup cream, plus 1 tablespoon 
8 ounces button mushrooms, chopped 
1/4 cup dry white wine 
4 brown-and-serve breakfast sausages, thawed 
1 sheet frozen puff pastry or 4 pastry shells, thawed

Brown chicken in butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-low heat for 4 minutes on each side. Add chicken stock to pan and simmer until chicken is tender, for 20-30 minutes depending on size of thighs.  Remove chicken from pan to cool. Carefully remove bone.
Measure stock and add water if needed to equal 1 cup. Combine flour and seasonings and sprinkle in pan, whisking until smooth over low heat. Slowly whisk in cream until smooth and thickened. Adjust consistency with more liquid if needed. Stir in mushrooms and wine.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out pastry and cut into four squares. Place a chicken thigh on top of each square (skin side down) then place a sausage in each bone cavity. Top each thigh with 2 tablespoons sauce. Bring corners of pastry up to center and seal edges. Brush with cream. Place in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Serve with additional warm sauce.

Green Beans Almondine

2 quarts plus 2 tablespoons water, divided 
2 (8-ounce) packages frozen thin green beans 
1 tablespoons butter 
1 tablespoon.olive oil 
1/2 cup sliced almonds 
1/4 cup shallot, thinly sliced 
1 teaspoon garlic, minced

Bring 2 quarts water to a boil in a large pot over medium-high. Add green beans; cook until crisp-tender for 4-5 minutes. Drain beans then plunge them into a bowl filled with ice water. Drain again and thoroughly dry with paper towels.
Wipe out pan and add butter and oil. Cook over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Add almonds, and saute, stirring constantly, until butter has browned, about 5 minutes. Add shallot and garlic. Saute, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice and 2 tablespoons water. Continue to stir constantly until sauce has thickened. Stir in beans, salt, and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until hot. Yield: 4 servings

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cake 

16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped 
1/2 cup butter 
1 tablespoon sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons flour 
1 teaspoon raspberry liqueur 
4 eggs separated 
1 cup raspberry jam 
Whipped cream 
Fresh raspberries 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch springform pan. In a large saucepan, combine chocolate and butter and warm over low heat until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, flour, and liqueur. Using a wooden spoon, stir in egg yolks one at a time, until completely combined.

In a bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into cooled chocolate mixture. Pour batter into prepared springform pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until edges are puffy. Cool on wire rack for 30 minutes then remove the sides of the pan and cool completely. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours.
To serve, allow cake to come to room temperature (about 45 minutes). Heat jam until melted then drizzle a spoonful on individual dessert plates; place cake slice and top with another light drizzle of jam. Garnish with whipped cream and raspberries. Yield: 10 servings

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