Autumn Braised Chicken

Filed under: Recipes , Tags: — Author: Caron Golden , October 31, 2016

braised mediterranean chicken-2

Do you have a favorite fall comfort dish? Mine is braised chicken. The chicken is transformed into melt-in-your-mouth bites by braising in vegetables that release their juices, along with the fragrant herbs and smokiness from the dry Marsala I usually add. The added bonus is the sweet aroma the kitchen takes on when it’s cooking. It just makes me feel good to be home.

I make this dish many ways, depending on what I’m craving and what ingredients I have, so this is hugely versatile for satisfying the various preferences of clients. Braised chicken is so easy and so versatile you almost don’t need a recipe. What you do need is the chicken, of course, some vegetables, herbs, spices, and white wine. I veer from tomatoes, red peppers, garlic, onions, and leeks to marinated artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, capers, and fennel. Do your clients love carrots and celery? Add them. Winter squash? Eggplant? Go for it. Sometimes I’ll bread the chicken, otherwise I’ll just sprinkle the pieces with salt and black pepper. I like to include dried herbs like oregano, marjoram, and thyme. If I want heat, I’ll add diced chiles or crushed red pepper flakes. Most often I turn to Marsala or sherry, but if I have an open bottle of Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay, in that will go. I usually make this just for myself. Two pieces turns into two meals for me. But I’ve made it for six people with a dozen pieces and just added more ingredients to a larger pot. No problem. You may just need to brown the chicken in batches and cook the dish longer.

Braised chicken takes about an hour in a 375° oven. You can use a clay pot (don’t preheat in that case so the pot won’t crack from the shock of the heat) or a heavy metal pot, like a Le Creuset Dutch oven. Whatever you use needs to be oven ready in terms of the handles and lid top for metal pots and pots that can absorb higher heat for clay.

browning skin

Prep your veggies. Then add some olive oil to the pot on the stove and add your seasoned chicken in batches, skin side down, with enough space between them so they don’t steam. Let the skin brown–don’t pull the chicken from the bottom of the pot. Wait to turn the pieces until they lift easily. Brown the second side and remove. Repeat with the next batch until done.

browning bottom

Place the chicken skin side up back in the pot and start layering half the vegetables. Once you have one layer in, add half the seasonings. Add the rest of the vegetables, the rest of the seasonings, and your wine. If your clients don’t drink wine, you can add a little apple juice or chicken broth.

ready for oven

Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and place it in the oven to cook for an hour. Serve it over grains–I made farro for it this week–so you have something to absorb the sweet and salty juices. Make enough for a second meal. It tastes even better the next night!

Just out of oven

Braised Chicken with Mediterranean Flavors
Serves 4

4 tablespoons olive oil
8 chicken thighs
Salt and pepper to taste
2 onions, thinly sliced
8 large cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
2 dozen or more pitted Kalamata olives
2 dozen quartered marinated artichoke hearts
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
crushed red pepper flakes
12 ounces Marsala

Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°.

Heat olive oil in a heavy, oven-ready pot that has a lid.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place a few of the chicken pieces skin side down in the pot. Let brown. Turn only once the chicken easily lifts from the bottom of the pot. Let brown on the second side. Remove and repeat with the next batch. When all are cooked, return, skin side up, to the pot.

Layer half the onion, garlic, olives, and artichoke hearts over the chicken. Sprinkle with half the herbs and sprinkle in some crushed red pepper flakes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Layer in the rest of the onion, garlic, olives, and artichoke hearts. Add the rest of the herbs, more crushed red pepper flakes if you like, and salt and pepper. Drizzle the Marsala over the mixture.

Put the cover on the pot and place in the oven. Cook for about an hour.

What’s your favorite cool weather comfort food for clients?

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Caron Golden

About 

Founder of premier organization of personal chefs inspires students to follow their dreams of culinary entrepreneurship.

Candy Wallace, executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), today was recognized by Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies as its 33rd Distinguished Guest Chef.

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