braise

braised chicken thighs with creamy greens and beans

So, as much as everyone in New York is trying to convince themselves otherwise, it’s still winter… UGH.

braised chicken thighs with creamy greens and beans | Brooklyn Homemaker

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.

braised chicken thighs with creamy greens and beans | Brooklyn Homemaker

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.

braised chicken thighs with creamy greens and beans | Brooklyn Homemaker  braised chicken thighs with creamy greens and beans | Brooklyn Homemaker

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.

braised chicken thighs with creamy greens and beans | Brooklyn Homemaker

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 | Brooklyn Homemaker

Braised Chicken Thighs with Creamy Greens and Beans

  • Servings: 4-8 (depending on the size of your chicken thighs)
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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!

braised chicken thighs with white wine, lemon, & capers

I may or may not have already said this, but this weather is starting to get me a little down. It’s hard to maintain a happy attitude and healthy energy level when it’s always cold and windy and slushy and wet and disgusting outside.

braised chicken thighs with white wine, lemon, & capers | Brooklyn Homemaker

I also may or may not have already said this, but I’ve totally been craving citrus like crazy lately. I normally like to at least attempt to eat seasonally, eating tomatoes at the end of the summer, apples in the fall, and asparagus in the spring, and generally avoiding the stuff shipped in from Peru for the rest of the year. I am certainly not fanatical about it, but most produce honestly just tastes better when it’s fresh and local instead of traveling from across the country or across the world. At this point in winter though, all those good intentions go straight out the window. When I can smell spring coming around the corner I can’t take it anymore and want nothing more than fresh bright summery foods, especially the tropical-ish flavors of citrus. So, you’ll have to forgive me (or maybe thank me) for doing another citrus recipe, this one with lemon, after just doing a soup with a healthy dose of lime.

braised chicken thighs with white wine, lemon, & capers | Brooklyn Homemaker

We recently got the unfortunate news that one of our close friends is moving away to London, so we wanted to have her for dinner to say farewell. I knew I wanted to make something really special, so I thought a rich hearty braised chicken dish was just the ticket. Although I totally love spending my day off braising a roast or stew, sometimes you just need something to come together a little faster. Chicken thighs are a really great way to make it seem like you slaved over a hot stove for half the day, when in reality you threw it together in just over an hour. Chicken thighs are also really inexpensive, packed with amazing flavor, and almost always come out juicy and tender.  This meal browns for about 15 minutes on the stove and then spends another 45 minutes in the oven. Including prep time, the whole shebang can be on your plate and in your mouth in 90 minutes or less.

Another little trick to make a meal feel like it cooked all day is to use really bold flavors. I thought the combination of fresh thyme, whole cloves of garlic, and salty capers would be perfect here. To cut the briney saltiness of the capers and the fattiness of the chicken, a healthy dose of crisp white wine and the zest of a whole lemon help make this dish taste really special. I think that the bright citrus-y notes of Sauvignon Blanc work really well, but you can use whatever  you like to drink or whatever you already have in the house.

braised chicken thighs with white wine, lemon, & capers | Brooklyn Homemaker braised chicken thighs with white wine, lemon, & capers | Brooklyn Homemaker braised chicken thighs with white wine, lemon, & capers | Brooklyn Homemaker

I adapted this recipe from one I found in Food & Wine, and while the recipe was amazing and I made only a few small changes, there was something about it that I found a bit strange. The original recipe said to use a large cast iron skillet to cook the entire meal. While the size and shape of a large skillet would lend well to this dish, I would never recommend slow cooking acidic meals in seasoned cast iron. Since this only cooks for an hour it’s not the end of the world, but acidic ingredients like wine and lemon can eat away at the seasoning in cast iron, which can not only negatively affect the function of your pan, but can also give your meal a slight metallic taste. The best option for this dish would be a large enameled skillet or enameled dutch oven without the lid. If you don’t have enameled cookware, you can also use a high-walled heavy stainless steel skillet, or any non-reactive, oven-safe and stovetop-safe pan that’s large enough.

Whatever you choose to cook this dish, you’ll be so glad that you made it. It has such a wonderfully rich and robust flavor. The wine adds a subtle sweetness and, along with the lemon, a bright fruitiness. The garlic, capers, and thyme add an earthy richness and a depth that tastes like it took several hours to build. After only an hour of cooking, the chicken thighs are tender, moist, and practically slide off the bone. Is your mouth watering yet?

braised chicken thighs with white wine, lemon, & capers | Brooklyn Homemaker

Depending on how many you’re feeding and the size of your chicken pieces, you can use between 4 and 8 thighs. Larger thighs should be plenty for one person, but if your thighs are small you might want to serve two pieces per person. Either way, the remaining ingredients can be left in the same amounts. You’ll just have a little extra sauce if you make fewer pieces. The sauce is amazing, so I promise it won’t go to waste. You can serve this with whatever you like, but I thought it paired perfectly with Basmati rice and roasted broccoli, with a little slice of fresh lemon and a glass (or bottle) of white wine. I just tossed the broccoli with olive oil, lemon, and salt and pepper, and roasted it on a parchment lined sheet pan at the same time that the chicken braised.

braised chicken thighs with white wine, lemon, & capers | Brooklyn Homemaker

Braised Chicken Thighs with White Wine, Lemon, & Capers

  • Servings: 4+ depending on size and number of thighs
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adapted from Food & Wine

4-8 bone-in chicken thighs with skin (depending on how many you’re feeding)
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 or 7 peeled garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 lemon
5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 bay leaf

Preheat the oven to 375°. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust with flour. In a large dutch oven or ovenproof skillet (not raw cast iron), melt the butter. Add the chicken, skin side down first, and cook over high heat until browned, turning over once, for a total of 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate, add the garlic cloves and cook over low heat until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine and thyme, turn heat up to high, and boil until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.  Peel the zest (avoiding the white pith) of the lemon using a vegetable peeler. Try to pull the largest strips possible. Add the lemon zest, stock, capers and bay leaf and bring back up to a boil. Return the chicken to the pan, skin side up. Transfer the pan, uncovered, to the oven and braise for 45 minutes, or until the meat is fork tender.
Remove the pan from the oven, transfer the chicken to a plate, and tent with foil. Transfer the pan to the stovetop and boil over high heat until the sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Discard the thyme, bay leaf and lemon zest, and spoon the sauce over the chicken to serve.