So, as much as everyone in New York is trying to convince themselves otherwise, it’s still winter… UGH.
It’s a strange thing to be able to literally smell spring around the corner, but to have it still remain painfully out of reach. After this long hard winter, people want to bust out the short shorts and tank tops the minute the sun comes out and temperatures rise above freezing. Unfortunately, mother nature has other plans for us poor ol’ city folk. One day birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and temperatures are soaring (SOARING!!!) into low sixties, but it’s just lady nature messing with our heads, and the next day the wind is reaching gail force and the temperatures barely reach the high teens. One day I’m dreaming of barbecues and watermelon margaritas, and the next day the heat’s cranking and I’m back in front of the stove trying to trick myself with citrus, garlic and greens.
Hopefully I’ll be out in the garden planting annuals and watching the crocus’ bloom very soon, but for now I’m back in the kitchen braising chicken thighs again. This recipe is kind of similar to the last braised chicken recipe I posted, but with some pretty major changes. I guess I’m a creature of habit. What can I say? I used chicken thighs again because, like I said before, they’re a great way to make a meal taste like it cooked all day when it really took about an hour and a half. I also used thyme, lemon, and white wine again, because, well… because those flavors are killer together with braised chicken thighs. Deal with it.
After that though, things went in a very different, very delicious direction.
The sauce for this is so rich and creamy and garlicy and wonderful. After the chicken gets all cozy and relaxed in the oven, it comes out and rests a bit while the sauce reduces and some fresh greens and white beans go in to soak up all that deliciousness. I chose to make this with red chard, but if you’d prefer spinach or something similar, knock yourself out. If you’d like to try this with kale or another braising green, I’d suggest cooking the greens for an extra five or ten minutes, and waiting to add the beans until the greens are almost fully cooked. I think the chard was the perfect choice though, and it adds a bit of bitterness and bite while still being fresh and green and tender. The beans add a bit of texture and interest, along with just enough starch to make this feel like a complete meal.
This dish came out better than I ever imagined. Like sooooooooo good. First of all, thyme and chicken are amazing together. Definitely one of my favorite combinations. Then when you add white wine, cream, and garlic, and just let it all get happy together in the oven… Heaven. The chicken is perfectly rich and falling off the bone, and the tender wilted greens and soft starchy beans make this meal one perfect wonderful dish. After one bite Russell was planning dinner parties and deciding which of our friends should have the privilege of tasting this. If it wasn’t amazing enough already, on top of everything this meal is also really simple to make and is all made in the same pot! I mean. Can it get any better? Actually, yes it can. With a glass of white wine and a big thick slice of nice crusty bread to sop up the sauce. You’re welcome.
Braised Chicken Thighs with Creamy Greens and Beans
8 chicken thighs (skin-on & bone-in)
salt and pepper for seasoning
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
7 or 8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
zest of 1 lemon (peeled in strips with a vegetable peeler, avoiding the white pith)
6 or 7 fresh thyme sprigs
1 (28 oz) can cannellini beans
1 or 2 bunches of swiss chard, washed and torn into bite sized shreds *see note
Preheat your oven to 375.
Season your chicken thighs with salt and pepper and dust with flour, on both sides. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or braising pan (not raw cast iron) and add chicken skin side down. Brown for 5 to 8 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken to a plate, leaving the remaining oil. Saute the shallots and garlic for 5 minutes until the shallots are tender and translucent. Add the wine and thyme, turn the heat up to high, and boil until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen up any browned bits. Add the lemon, stock, and cream to the pan, bring back to a boil, and add the chicken skin side up. Transfer the pan, uncovered, to the oven to braise for 45 minutes or until meat is fork tender.
Remove the pan from the oven, transfer the chicken to a plate, and tent with foil. Move the pan back to the stovetop and boil over high heat until the sauce is slightly reduced, for about 10 minutes. Remove and discard the thyme and lemon zest. Add the chard and beans, and cook on high for 5 minutes more, or until the greens are completely wilted. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary, and serve the chicken over a bed of the beans and greens.
*cook’s note- if you have large chicken thighs or want to serve a lot of greens use 2 bunches, otherwise one is fine. It cooks down A LOT, so 2 bunches will be perfect if you’re serving more than 4 people, or if you really like chard!