Braised Chicken Thighs
This is the second post in a four post series where I am using one chicken to make four different meals. The first meal was barbeque chicken legs.
Let it be known, this is one of my favorite ways to eat chicken ever. I learned the technique while working at a restaurant a few years ago. I got to be pretty good friends with the chef so he let me in on a few secrets. I’ve never been able to make the dish quite as good as his was, but that’s why he is a chef.
Anyway, it is still delicious, and it looks like this:
1) Coat chicken liberally with seasoned salt and preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2) Add chicken to a large oven-safe pot like a dutch oven along with diced onions, celery, and carrots. Cover chicken with water and stir in an extra tablespoon or two of seasoned salt and a tablespoon of oregano.
3) Cover this dish and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 30 minutes.
If you are using a whole chicken instead of just pieces, you’ll want to increase the cooking time by 15-20 minutes. The chicken should be cooked through at this point.
4) Remove chicken pieces from pot and place pot over medium-high heat on the stove for 10 minutes so the sauce reduces a bit.
5) In a large skillet, add some butter over medium high heat and once melted, add the chicken pieces, skin-side down. Cook over medium-high heat until skin becomes crispy, about 4-5 minutes.
Serve chicken with rice and veggies and pour reduced sauce over everything.
I decided to use the thighs here because they are my favorite. No particular reason other than that. You could prepare the whole chicken like this if you wanted to. I also threw in the wings because I didn’t know what else to do with them (although I thought about BBQing them also).
At the restaurant, the chef used to use only onions and celery for his version. I like to add carrots because they give it a bit different flavor. The only other key ingredients are seasoned salt and oregano. Again, this is a pretty economical dish.
To start, coat your chicken liberally with the seasoned salt.
Then throw all of that in a big oven safe pot or baking pan along with your chopped veggies.
Cover this whole mess with water until the chicken is just covered. Add at least two more tablespoons of seasoned salt to the water. I’m not kidding. I like to add like four. Also add a tablespoon of oregano.
The first time you make this dish, if you are like me, you will say to yourself, “Self. That is too much seasoned salt.” And then when you are eating it you will say, “Self. I should have added more seasoned salt.”
The first time though, feel free to air err on the side of caution as you can always add, but you can never subtract the delicious flavor that the salt gives to a dish.
Cook this mixture in the oven at 400 degrees, covered, for 30 minutes. Then take off the cover and cook it for another 30 minutes. Your cover could just be tin foil if you don’t have a lid. Be careful when removing the cover though – it will be HOT.
If you are cooking a whole chicken, you might have to increase this cooking time by about 15 minutes total.
Once that is done, take out your chicken.
While it is very hard to overcook these pieces, it is possible. If you let them cook too long, they will basically just fall apart and you will have chicken soup.
You will be left with a lovely light sauce which I like to reduce down on the stove top for about 10 more minutes. It is almost like a super-intense chicken broth.
Braising chicken like this results in some of the most delicious and moist chicken imaginable. It literally falls off the bone. But it does cause one problem – the skin becomes rubbery. I hate rubbery skin on my chicken. I want crispy skin.
There is a solution for this. After your chicken cools a bit, toss it in a hot skillet with some butter to sear for about 3 minutes a side. The skin will crisp up perfectly and the meat will still be very tender and juicy.
I served mine with rice, broccoli, and lots of that reduced sauce.
Want a tip to get pretty looking rice? Butter a coffee cup and pack the rice in the cup. Flip it over and you will have a pretty little hill of rice.
I can’t say enough about this dish. It is pretty simple to make and leaves you feeling completely satisfied.
If you want to try the original of this dish, and happen to be in DC, the restaurant I used to work at where I learned it is called Creme Cafe and Lounge on U Street. The chef I learned from, while still an owner, doesn’t cook there much anymore so I can’t guarantee that it is as good as back in the day.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Meal 3!