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World Cup Day 18: France

Sunday, in case you missed it, was a World Cup match day for the ages. I haven't seen two consecutive games so crazy since Katniss and crew told President Snow he could take his oppressive vision of Panem and shove it.

Oh, Katniss. If only I'd grown up in District 12. I could've taken you away from all that craziness. Sigh… Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images

It. Was. Wild. The first game will be forever be mired in controversy. Mexico led the Dutch with just two minutes left in regulation when Wesley Sneijder fired home a rocket to tie the game at 1-1. Klaas Jan Huntelaar then sealed the win from the penalty spot in stoppage time after Arjen Robben may/may not have taken a dive in the box. Judge for yourself here.

This fan is either a) crestfallen after watching Mexico lose in the 11th hour, or b) severely allergic to face paint. Photo: ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images

Game two was a battle of attrition. Costa Rica, playing with 10 men for over an hour after receiving a red card, somehow managed to outlast the Greeks and win on penalties. Fate, it seems, is purely all about some pura vida.

Today's match brings two European superpowers head-to-head against the African continent's last contingents. The first game will see France square off against Nigeria, while the day's second match showcases a plucky Algerian squad that's just praying the Germans decide not to show up. Look for Die Mannschaft to cruise to victory in that one. I'd say 4-0 seems fair. Oh, and get your party kazoos ready, because Miroslav Klose today becomes the all-time leading goalscorer in World Cup history. You heard it here first, folks. From a cooking magazine.

Match to Watch: France vs. Nigeria The French face off against the team with arguably the best nickname in the tournament (Super Eagles). Les Bleus have looked dominant for the large part of their games, appearing to lay to rest their dismal showing at the last World Cup. The Super Eagles, meanwhile, find themselves in the knockout round by virtue of being not-as-bad as Iran or Bosnia-Herzegovina in the group stage. They are Africa's champions, but don't expect the French to care. This game is a foregone conclusion, and Les Bleus run away with this one. My Pick: France 3, Nigeria 0 

Player to Watch: Paul Pogba Two reasons I've picked Pogba as being one to watch today. The first reason being he's real, real good, helping lead club team Juventus to the last three Italian championships. Paul the Octopus (so named for his long legs) is a game changer. The second reason to watch him? He's sitting on one yellow card, so if he gets another today he'd be ineligible to play against Germany when the two teams inevitably meet in the quarterfinals. Look for No. 19 to likely be brought on as a sub and do some damage.

Match Day Dish: Champagne-Browned Butter Chicken (France) Champagne is a celebration wine originating from France, so what better way to commemorate a French victory over the Super Eagles than with champagne-browned poultry? This dish gets layers of flavor from bacon drippings, brandy, and browned butter. It's sinful. Make this recipe for dinner tonight, take some photos of your creation, and then send them in to our Instagram account with the hashtag #CLKickingDishes for a chance to win prizes (details here). Enjoy, and have an incredible third day of knockout round action! Cheers.

Champagne-Browned Butter Chicken Hands-on Time: 50 min. Total Time: 1 hr. 45 min.

  • 2 slices center-cut bacon

    Champagne-Browned Butter Chicken. Photo: Brian Woodcock
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned (about 1 3/4 pounds)
  • 6 bone-in chicken drumsticks, skinned (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 pound red-skinned potatoes, quartered
  • 1 pound button mushrooms, halved
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 4 shallots, halved
  • 3/4 cup no-salt-added chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 12 baby carrots with tops
  • 1 cup Champagne
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1. Preheat oven to 300°. 2. Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp; remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings in pan. Reserve bacon for another use. Place 2/3 cup flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Dredge chicken lightly in flour; shake off excess flour. Increase heat to medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon oil to drippings in pan; swirl to coat. Add half of chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over; cook 2 minutes. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and chicken. 3. Add potatoes to pan; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in brandy. Cook until liquid almost evaporates (about 30 seconds), stirring occasionally. Return chicken to pan. Add shallots and stock; bring to a boil. Place peppercorns and next 3 ingredients (through parsley) on a double layer of cheesecloth. Gather edges; tie with butcher's twine. Add bundle to pan. Bake, uncovered, at 300° for 15 minutes. 4. Trim carrot tops to 1-inch; scrub carrots. Add the carrots to pan. Bake an additional 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender and chicken is done. Remove chicken and vegetables from pan; keep warm. Discard herb bundle. Place pan over medium-high heat. Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until mixture reduces to 2/3 cup (about 11 minutes). 5. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook butter 3 minutes or until lightly browned, shaking pan occasionally. Stir in 1 teaspoon flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add butter mixture to reduced wine mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thick. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Serve with chicken and vegetables. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and thyme.