Monday, January 13, 2014

Braised Chicken

Braised Chicken is right at the top of my recipe list. I use the basic recipe so often I was a bit surprised that I had not done a post on it before. This technique has several things going for it.

It uses the less expensive (cheap) legs, thighs or quarters. These pieces are required. White meat dries out too quickly. Slow cooking the bone-in dark pieces results in a juicy and tender piece of chicken, with the added advantage that the bone-in pieces contribute to a great tasting pan sauce.

The entire dish is cooked in one pan for easy clean up. It can be cooked on the stove top on hot summer days. On cold winter days it can be cooked in a slow (300 degree) oven. It still only requires one pan, but the oven can accommodate some homemade bread or a nice rustic tart.
Recipe #43 Braised Chicken Quarters
2 (or more) chicken quarters, thighs or legs
1 chopped onion
1 chopped carrot
1 chopped celery stalk
½ cww wine (cheap white wine) or red wine or stock or any braising liquid.
½ cup water
herbs (see notes at end)

Start with a covered saute pan or a dutch oven. The pan pictured in a 3 quart pan. Brown the chicken pieces, skin side down. Turn and briefly brown the flip side. Remove the chicken to a plate. Add chopped vegetables. Stir the vegetables until the brown bits left in the pan begins to loosen. Add braising liquid. For more information see the post: Mirepoix

Return the chicken to the pan and nestle it down in the liquid and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. At this point almost any additional seasoning can be added. I keep a small container of Herbes de Provence on the kitchen counter. It is a packaged mix of thyme, basil, savory, fennel seeds, and lavender flowers. It's always easy to add a few pinches. In the summer we have rosemary, parsley, sage and other herbs growing in the garden.

Bring the pot to a slow simmer and cook 45 min to an hour. A slow simmer can extend the cooking time without ruining the meal. Sometimes extra time is needed for the social graces.

That's the basic recipe. What makes this so versatile is the many variations in seasoning/herbs and accompanying side dishes. I'll post some of my favorites and some of my experiments. Once you get the idea, the variations are almost endless.

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