The other night I whipped us up some beer battered fish and onion rings using "The Food Lab" by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt recipe for beer batter. Well, after that a more organized person might have put the cookbook back on the shelf, but in true fashion I left mine out on the table. So today while waiting for cakes to bake, my coffee to wake me up and get me going for a day out in the cold cleaning up the yard; I pulled the cookbook into my lap and started reading more. After remembering what we had in our refrigerator, I flipped to the back to see what ideas Mr. Lopez-Alt had for Chicken. Now, I've cooked chicken a lot. A lot. We try to limit our red meat intake due to some health concerns, so I've probably cooked chicken in every way you can think of. However, I love trying new recipes and techniques; enter "The Food Lab".
As Kenji mentions, before his recipes for braised chicken, it's more about technique than the recipe. You can use any combination of flavors you and your family like. He, of course, gives you a few recipes for you to follow-if you'd like. However, if you've been around a bit you know I'm not really a recipe follower. I think recipes are more like guidelines.
Since I was cooking for my family, I chose to mix and match a bit of the flavor combinations he used in his recipes. I braised my chicken thighs in a braising sauce of tomato sauce, red wine with bacon and mushrooms. We ate this over white rice, and trust me, we could have made a meal on just the sauce and rice. It was so delicious; we've been eating the leftovers ever since, even without the chicken!
Braised Chicken (This is *not* "The Food Lab"'s recipe, for that you will have to purchase that book. You can find it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble)
4 Chicken Thighs, bone-in (feel free to use bone out, but it will need less time to cook)
4-6 strips of Bacon, chopped
1 container of mushrooms, sliced
1 29oz can of Whole Tomatoes in their juice
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 an onion, diced
Garlic, measure with your heart- I used about 5 cloves, diced.
Water or Chicken Broth, as needed
2 tsp Salt and Pepper
Oil, Vegetable/Olive Oil-whatever your preference
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (if using an oven safe pan, if not please disregard).
In an oven safe pan (alternatively, if you do not have an oven safe pan, you can prepare this on the stove top on a low heat for about 20-25 minutes) cook the bacon and remove from pan. Season chicken with salt and pepper. I seared my chicken in the bacon fat with a touch of vegetable oil, but if you'd prefer just drain the grease and use oil.
After chicken is nice and seared, remove from pan and sauté onions, garlic and mushrooms. Don't forget to season your mushrooms with salt, it will draw their moisture out and allow for a crispier texture. This also means that, in the words of Julia Child, you shouldn't crowd your mushrooms.
After a few minutes of cooking, add the wine to get all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Once the wine is reduced by half, add the can of whole tomatoes, using your utensil smash the tomatoes. Here I added a little chicken broth to bring the liquid up to half the pan. Afterward, you'll need to tuck the chicken thighs in your braising liquid. It's okay for a little of your chicken to be above the liquid, but you do want at least half of the meat to be in the sauce. (*If you're family doesn't like bone in and you are cooking with it, feel free to cut into pieces and leave the bone out before putting back into the sauce).
If you are using an oven safe pan, here's the time to cover and pop it in your preheated oven and let cook for approximately 20 minutes. If you aren't, which I wasn't this night, you can cover the pan and lower the heat to low; just letting the sauce simmer. You'll need to let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes.
As I stated before, we served this over rice and it was absolutely delicious! I highly recommend it!
Check out "The Food Lab" and read more about the science behind cooking and let me know how this recipe works for you!