Sunday, October 30, 2011

Good Enough to Eat: Braised Mediterranean Chicken

It's been a while since I posted a recipe... and I told you why the LAST time I posted a recipe... why bother cooking when you can eat fresh produce from the farmer's market and the CSA? Yeah, but now it's Fall and things are starting to change around here.

The leaves are burnished in gold and red, the sun is setting earlier and rising later and it was 39 degrees yesterday morning when I got up. 39. Brrrrr. The best part of all this is that I have started cooking for real again! Once again, I'm gathering recipes for my repertoire. Some have sucked and some have been home runs.

Like last night's dinner.

I hate food photography... nothing ever looks as good as it tastes.
When I purchased my beautiful Le Creuset French oven, I knew that I would be able to use it for most of my Fall/Winter recipes, especially anything that needs to be braised. Now I love my crock pot, and I love setting something and forgetting all about it until a day or so later, but the beauty of using a French oven is that you can brown something, get that gorgeous crust and all those yummy bits on the bottom, deglaze it with some wine and mmmmm... levels of flavor that aren't quite possible with the slow cooker.

This recipe is all about deglazing, browning up the chicken and the onions and some garlic and using it to create some real flavor and depth to the dish. It's pretty quick, most of your time is spent either browning or reducing, which doesn't take too much effort. Promise.

Enjoy a warm steaming bowl over some buttered egg noodles, or even homemade spaetzle (that's my next big project)... Happy Fall!

Braised Greek Chicken and Artichokes
Courtesy of Bon Appetit, December 2001


1 TB of Olive Oil

1/2 Onion, diced

1 Garlic Clove, smashed.

2 Packages of Chicken Thighs, cut into large bite-size pieces - Now I'll be honest. I am NOT a huge fan of chicken thighs, but in this recipe it's totally necessary. I tried it with chicken breasts and even after an hour of sitting in all the lovely sauce they were still kind of dry. But with the thighs? Mmmm, so moist and tender and delicious. Trust me. They are also cheaper to buy, so you can get organic chicken without breaking the bank! 

2 6-ounce Jars of Marinated Artichoke Hearts, drained with 2 TB of marinade reserved - We LOVE artichoke hearts around these parts. So if you want to add more to make it even with the chicken, add in un-marinated ones after the 2 jars of marinated. It will keep the sodium down. I put so many marinated 'chokes in the first time that I woke up all puffy from the sodium. Trust me, not a good look. 

1-2 Cups of Chicken Broth - Eyeball this... you can always reduce it if you need to add more and you want to make sure that you are letting the flavors really marry while it reduces. Use enough to cover the chicken and then go from there. It's a good thing.

1/2-3/4 Cup of White Wine - Deglazing... 'nuff said.

The Juice of 1-2 Lemons

1 TB of Grated Lemon Peel

1/4 Tsp of Red Pepper Flakes

3 TB of chopped FRESH oregano - using fresh is really important. It's a very strong herb when it's fresh and balances out the flavors really nicely in this dish. Don't be afraid! 

1 TB of cornstarch IF NEEDED

Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large, deep skillet over medium high heat. You want to get the pan pretty hot in preparation. While you're waiting for the pan to heat, season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Add the onion and garlic to the oil, working it around until it becomes soft. This is just to flavor the oil and add another layer of flavor to the chicken. Once the garlic and onions start to soften and brown a bit, remove them from the pan, set aside for later. You may want to pick out the large piece of garlic here, so you don't get it later in the dish.

Add the chicken to the pan and saute until browned on all sides. You want it browned, but not cooked through all of the way. If your pan isn't big enough to hold all of the chicken at once, do this step in batches, as you want to get good color on the meat and you can't get that with an overcrowded pan. Take your time!

Once the chicken is browned completely, put it all back in the pan and add the white wine. Pour a glass for yourself while you're at it. Scrape up all the nice brown bits from the bottom of the pan while you do this, then add the reserved marinade, the chicken broth, lemon juice, peel, crushed red pepper and your sauteed onions. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Uncover, stir in the artichokes and 2 TB of oregano. Simmer until the liquid is reduced... if needs be at this point, mix the TB of cornstarch with some of the simmering liquid (in a bowl) until smooth, then put back into the pot. I like my braising liquid pretty thick so that it coated the noodles, but get it where you like it.

Once you have the consistency where you want it, stir in the last TB of oregano, taste for salt and pepper and serve over hot noodles.

I'd say it makes enough to serve four-six people, but with my husband and our neighbor? It barely made enough to feed the two of them. Gluttons. 


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