Braised Chicken

I prepared this chicken from a recipe in Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc cookbook.  It is a classic braise, with the inclusion of some ‘exotic’ aromatics including fennel and green olives.  The recipe called for thighs, but I used thighs and legs, as drumsticks are very popular at our house.  Dark meat is well-suited to braising.

Braising is a simple, versatile technique.  You brown the meat thoroughly in a little oil, then add aromatics (onions, etc.) to the pan to saute in the oil and fat from the meat.  Once the aromatics are cooked, you deglaze the pan (in this case with wine), return the meat to the pan in a single layer, and add liquid to come about halfway up the sides of the meat, so it is semi-submerged.  Typically, the braising liquid is stock, but water or even wine (as in the classic, coq au vin) will suffice.  You allow the meat to finish cooking gently, over moderate heat, with the pan usually partially or completely covered.  For this dish, I ran the pan under the broiler for a couple of minutes to crisp the skin prior to presentation.

After removing the chicken to the platter, strain the aromatics from the braising liquid, skim off excess fat, and reduce for a tasty gravy.  I served it with steamed broccoli, tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.  This is real comfort food!

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