Chocolate and Champagne Chicken

Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 to 6 servings


  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs 3 to 3 ½ pounds
  • cup or more prosecco, Champagne or white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate preferably from Modica, grated
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
  • Ground hot red pepper to taste
  • Fresh oregano or marjoram leaves optional


  1. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a nonreactive dish (such as Pyrex). Pour 1/2 cup prosecco over the thighs, turning them to moisten. Marinate, refrigerated, for several hours or overnight.
  2. In a mini-processor or using a mortar and pestle, grind the fennel seeds to a coarse consistency.
  3. Drain the chicken, discarding the liquid, and blot dry with paper towels. Salt on both sides. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Cook on both sides until golden brown. Transfer the chicken to a platter.
  4. Add a little more oil to the skillet if needed (or, if the chicken generated a lot of fat, pour off all but enough to coat the bottom of the skillet). Over medium heat, cook the onion until soft and golden. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the vinegar, chocolate, sugar, fennel, clove and a light sprinkling of red pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon). Stir until dissolved.
  5. Return the chicken thighs to the skillet, spooning the sauce over them. Add 1/2 cup prosecco and simmer, partly covered, over medium-low heat until the thighs are tender and the sauce is fairly thick, about 25 minutes. If the sauce thickens too much, add a splash of prosecco or water.