The Kitchn

Fresh vegetables make braised chicken a summer dish

TheKitchn.comAugust 6, 2013 

This recipe combines two of my great culinary loves: flavorful, inexpensive chicken thighs and rich, hearty braises.

A braise may sound like more of a cold-weather meal, but I love this savory combination year-round – plus, it’s an easy one-pot dinner for weeknights. To help shout “summer braise” from the rooftops, I have added a plethora of bright bell peppers and sweet red onions, so easy to find at farmers markets this time of year.

What I love most about a braise is that it’s so forgiving. Once you’ve mastered the technique, you will never need to use a recipe again. Brown the meat, saute some vegetables, deglaze the pan, and simmer. That really is all you need to know.

For a long time, I would break down a chicken into parts whenever I made a braise. But then, I fell in love with chicken thighs and have never looked back. Use whatever you want, though: thighs, breasts, wings or drumsticks.

When it comes to vegetables, anything you have on hand should work. I am addicted to bell peppers and put them in anything I can, but summer corn, zucchini, tomatoes and green beans would all taste great.

I use chicken stock (because I always use chicken stock), but a good vegetable broth or even water would do in a pinch. White wine vinegar is my go-to for deglazing the pan because I love the extra punch it gives, but regular white wine or any mild vinegar would do. Once the chicken braises, the last step is to reduce, reduce, reduce. This final step really concentrates the flavors of the sauce, making it perfect for drizzling over chicken and dousing over rice.

There is nothing revolutionary about this easy, breezy braise. It’s just good, classic comfort food. And comfort food, as we all know, is always in season.

Braised Chicken Thighs With Bell Peppers and Onions

6 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs Instant flour (such as Wondra) or all-purpose flour Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 5 to 6 tablespoons cooking oil (such as canola, peanut or safflower), divided 3 bell peppers, cored and cut into 1/4-inch strips (assorted colors) 1 large red onion, cut into 1/4-inch strips 3 to 4 large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, divided 2 cups chicken stock Cooked white rice, to serve

PAT chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Dust the tops with a light coating of flour and season with salt and pepper.

HEAT 4 to 5 tablespoons oil in a large braising dish or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering and hot. Working in two batches, add the chicken, seasoned-side down, and sear until golden, about 3-4 minutes. Before flipping, dust the other sides with flour and season with additional salt and pepper. Flip and continue searing. Remove to another plate and set aside.

LOWER heat to medium and add another tablespoon of oil if needed. Add the peppers, onions, garlic and mustard, and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

INCREASE the heat to high. Pour in 1/4 cup vinegar and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, scraping the bottom to loosen any brown bits. Add the seared chicken and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until chicken can easily be pulled apart with a fork, 30-35 minutes.

TRANSFER the chicken to another plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Add the remaining tablespoon vinegar to the cooking liquid. (If you love vinegar, add two.) Increase the heat to high and cook at a rapid boil until the sauce is thickened and reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Nestle the chicken back in the pan and rewarm. Serve with cooked white rice.

YIELD: 4 to 6 servings.

Nealey Dozier is a writer for TheKitchn.com, a website for food and home cooking.

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