Braising is a cooking technique, usually with tougher cuts of meat, that gives deep flavor and fork tender results. There is not much work involved for the cook and everyone is rewarded with a
masterpiece meal. The meat is first browned and then simmered in a flavorful liquid. The liquid doesn’t go to waste either becoming a delicious sauce. The sauce is formed by reducing the liquid or using a starch to thicken.
Chicken thighs are usually not the first choice of meat. Breast are by far the favored pick by
Americans. When cooked correctly they deliver a delicious dish. Even those who may not usually favor thigh meat will enjoy this meal. I am one of those people and I can tell you this is out of this world good! Who wants a snappy piece of chicken, right? Braising is the answer.
If you’ve never made a braised dish, it may sound intimidating, but it is really quite easy. Let me tell you how to do it.
- 3 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs, usually 8 pieces
- 4 oz Diced Pancetta, about 1 cup
- 1/2 c Diced Onion
- 4-5 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
- 1 tbs Capers, drained
- 1 c All Purpose Flour, season with 1/4 tsp of Salt, Pepper, Onion Powder & Paprika
- Salt & Cracked Black Pepper, to season each side of the chicken
- 1 tsp Olive Oil
- 2 tbs Butter
- 1/2 c Chicken Broth (not stock)
- 1/2 c White Wine, I used Chardonnay (you can use all chicken broth if you prefer)
- 1/2 c Water
- 2 tbs Corn Starch
I prepared this dish on the stove top. You can do the braising portion in the oven if you prefer and I’ll note those instructions at the end of the post.
Heat an enamel coated cast iron casserole or dutch oven pot over medium heat. I used my 3.6 Lodge casserole
. You want to use a similar type dish with a tight fitting lid that will accommodate all of the chicken if you do not have enamel cast iron.
Add olive oil and pancetta. Saute the pancetta to render all of the fat. You will use this to brown the chicken pieces.
Season chicken pieces on each side with salt and cracked pepper and dredge in flour mixture to prepare for browning.
Remove the pancetta and reserve to use later for a flavorful garnish. Add butter to pot and melt.
Add half of the dredged chicken pieces to the pan and brown on each side. Remove and set aside, continue the browning with the other half of the chicken pieces. Once all of the chicken pieces have been browned set aside.
Add diced onion to the pot and saute for two minutes.
Add the wine and chicken broth, be sure to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Add fresh thyme sprigs and capers. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
Add browned chicken pieces to the liquid. Reduce heat to a medium low setting. Cover with a lid and cook for 1 hour. It’s okay if you allow it to cook a little longer. I let mine cook for an additional half hour while I prepared my side dishes.
When the cooking time is finished remove chicken pieces and set aside.
Remove thyme stems and discard.
We are going to thicken the braising liquid into a sauce. In a measuring cup, combine cold water and cornstarch, mix to combine. Add the corn starch water mixture to the braising liquid. Stir to combine. The sauce will thicken quickly.
Remove the pot from the heat.
I served the chicken on a bed of rice with greens and root vegetables with some of the sauce spooned over the chicken and garnished with the reserved cooked pancetta bits. It’s truly amazing and my family loved it.
Oven method: Follow all steps and after adding the chicken to the liquid, cover and place in a
pre-heated 350 degree oven for one hour.