Braised chicken thighs are a flavourful and juicy way to enjoy chicken, and they're surprisingly easy to make. The braising process involves cooking the chicken in liquid (usually a combination of broth, wine, and aromatics) until it becomes tender and infused with flavour. The result is a dish that's both satisfying and elegant, perfect for a special occasion or a weeknight dinner. In this article, we'll explore everything you need to know about making braised chicken thighs, from choosing the right ingredients to serving suggestions.
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Choosing the Right Chicken Thighs
When it comes to braising chicken, you'll want to choose bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. This will help keep the chicken moist and flavorful during the cooking process. You can use either chicken thighs with the bone and skin still attached, or boneless, skinless chicken thighs if you prefer.
Why Braised Chicken Thighs?
Braised chicken thighs are a great choice for several reasons. First, chicken thighs are more flavourful and juicy than chicken breasts, making them a better choice for braising. Second, braising is a slow-cooking method that infuses the chicken with flavour and makes it tender and moist. Finally, braised chicken thighs are a versatile dish that can be served for any occasion, from a casual dinner to a special occasion.
How to make Braised Chicken Thighs
To make braised chicken thighs, you'll need the following ingredients:
- 4-6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper to taste
Here's how to make braised chicken thighs:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the chicken thighs to the skillet and cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.
- Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.
- Add the chopped onion to the skillet and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic to the skillet and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth, white wine, Dijon mustard, tomato paste, and thyme to the skillet.
- Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
- Return the chicken thighs to the skillet, skin-side up.
- Cover the skillet with a lid or aluminium foil and transfer it to the preheated oven.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
- Serve the braised chicken thighs hot, garnished with fresh thyme leaves and a side of roasted vegetables or mashed potatoes.
- To make sure the chicken cooks evenly, be sure to use a skillet that's large enough to hold all the chicken thighs in a single layer.
- If you don't have an oven-safe skillet, you can transfer the chicken and sauce to a baking dish before baking.
- For added flavour, try adding other aromatics to the skillet, such as bay leaves, rosemary, or sage.
- If you prefer, you can remove the skin from the chicken thighs before cooking them. However, the skin helps to keep the chicken moist and adds flavour, so it is recommended to leave it on.
- If the sauce is too thin, you can thicken it by removing the chicken thighs from the skillet and simmering the sauce over medium heat until it reduces and thickens.
- Make sure to let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving. This will help the juices redistribute and make for a juicier and more flavourful dish.
One of the great things about braised chicken thighs is that there are many ways to customize the recipe to your taste. Here are a few variations to try:
- Swap out the white wine for red wine to give the dish a richer flavour.
- Add chopped carrots, celery, and potatoes to the skillet along with the onion and garlic for a complete one-pan meal.
- Substitute the thyme and bay leaf for rosemary and sage for a more herbaceous flavour.
- Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs if you prefer a leaner dish.
- Add some heat to the dish by adding red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to the sauce.
Q: Can I use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs?
A: Yes, you can use chicken breasts if you prefer. However, chicken breasts are leaner than chicken thighs and can dry out more easily during cooking. To prevent this, be sure to cook the chicken breasts for a shorter amount of time and use a meat thermometer to ensure they're cooked through.
Q: Can I make braised chicken thighs in a slow cooker?
A: Yes you can make braised chicken thighs in a slow cooker. Simply follow the instructions to brown the chicken in a skillet, then transfer the chicken and sauce to a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
Q: Can I make braised chicken thighs ahead of time?
A: Yes, you can make braised chicken thighs ahead of time. Store the cooked chicken and sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, simply warm the chicken and sauce in a skillet over medium heat.
Braised chicken thighs are a delicious and comforting dish that's easy to make and perfect for any occasion. With this recipe, you can enjoy perfectly tender and juicy chicken with a flavourful sauce that is sure to impress. Whether you're serving it for a family dinner or a special occasion, braised chicken thighs are always a crowd-pleaser.