Braising takes only two things: humble ingredients and a bit of patience. I'm usually a rushed cook, wanting to create things that I can put together on the fly. I'm a weeknight cook, so rarely do I take the time to slow down and work with recipes that take time. I've been wanting to incorporate the technique of braising into my meals more, and this recipe, inspired by Cal Peternell's Braised Chicken, was well worth the extra time and effort.
PERFECT HERB BRAISED CHICKEN
- 6 chicken leg quarters [thighs and drumsticks]
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
- 1/2 cup AP flour
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ cup chicken stock
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced [I didn't have fresh celery, so I used some pickled celery I had on hand!]
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 sprigs of thyme, rosemary and sage, leaves removed and roughly chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups chicken stock [you may not need all of this, but I did!]
- Season chicken legs with salt and pepper and let them sit for a half hour at room temperature
- Heat oven to 450 degrees. Add the flower and chicken chicken to a large bowl, and toss to coat
- Set a cast iron [or oven safe] skillet over medium-high heat. Melt two tablespoons butter. Shake excess flour off the chicken legs and place in skillet. Don't overcrowd the pan! [you can do this in batches] The legs should be sizzling but not smoking. After 5 minutes, turn them over to brown the other side, an additional 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the chicken to a platter and repeat with remaining legs, adding more butter if the pan seems dry.
- Pour off the grease in the pan and add 3/4 cup of chicken stock to the skillet, scraping the brown bits. Let simmer over medium heat until pan is completely deglazed. Pour that liquid into a small bowl and set aside.
- Add remaining 2 TB butter to the skillet and melt. Add onion, carrot, celery and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, herbs and bay leaf and cook for a minute or so, then return all the chicken to the pan, skin side up, along with the reserved glazing liquid and between 1 and 3 cups stock or water, enough to come up the sides of the chicken. Bring to a simmer and place in the oven.
- After 5 minutes, reduce the oven heat to 325F and cook until chicken is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven, lift the legs from the skillet and put them aside again. Pour the liquid contents of the skillet into a small bowl and allow it to sit for 5 minutes or so, letting the fat rise to the surface. Use a small ladle to skim off and discard the fat, then return liquid to the pan, along with the chicken. Bring to a simmer, then return to the oven for 5 minutes or so before serving. Season the braising liquid to taste.
- Serve with brown rice and enjoy immediately or refrigerate [this tastes even better with time!].
This is a satisfying, comforting dish that takes a bit of time, but is well worth it. The chicken was so incredibly tender and flavorful, I could have devoured every last bit!