4 oz lardons, pancetta or bacon, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onions, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
8 oz white or brown mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons brandy
3 Tablespoons butter, unsalted
8 oz peeled pearl onions
2 slices white bread, cut into triangles, crusts removed
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Season chicken with 2 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a large bowl, combine chicken, wine, bay leaf and thyme. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or, even better, overnight.
In a large Dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid, cook lardons over medium-low heat until fat has rendered, and lardons are golden and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lardons to a paper-towel-lined plate, leaving rendered fat in pot.
Remove chicken from wine, reserving the marinade. Pat chicken pieces with paper towels, until very dry. Heat lardon fat over medium heat until it's just about to smoke. Working in batches if necessary, add chicken in a single layer and cook until well browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side. (Add oil if the pot looks a little dry.) Transfer chicken to a plate as it browns.
Add diced onion, carrot, half the mushrooms and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to pot. Cook until vegetables are lightly browned, about 8 minutes, stirring up any brown bits from the pot, and adjusting heat if necessary to prevent burning.
Stir in garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, then stir in flour and cook for another minute. Remove from heat, push vegetables to one side of pot, pour brandy into empty side, and ignite with a match. (If you're too nervous to ignite it, just cook brandy down for 1 minute.) Once the flame dies down, add reserved marinade, bring to a boil, and reduce halfway (to 1 1/2 cups), about 12 minutes. Skim off any large pockets of foam that form on the surface.
Add chicken, any accumulated juices and half the cooked lardons to the pot. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour, turning halfway through. Uncover pot and simmer for 15 minutes to thicken. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary.
Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons oil in nonstick or other large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pearl onions, a pinch of sugar and salt to taste. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, shaking skillet often to move onions around. Uncover, push onions to one side of skillet, add remaining mushrooms, and raise heat to medium-high. Continue to cook until browned, stirring muchrooms frequently, and gently tossing onions occasionally. 5 to 8 minutes. Remove onions and mushrooms from skillet, and wipe it out.
In same skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until bubbling. Add bread and toast on all sides until golden, about 2 minutes per side. (Adjust heat if needed to prevent burning.) Remove from skillet and sprinkle with salt.
To serve, dip croutons in wine sauce, then coat in parsley. Add pearl onions, mushrooms and remaining half of the cooked lardons to the pot. Baste with wine sauce, sprinkle with parsley and serve with croutons on top.