braised chicken thighs

coconut lime braised chicken thighs

Why hello there old friend! Long time no see!

coconut lime braised chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

Being a food blogger and working full time for a kitchenware retailer basically means that from November to January I’m a busy little bee. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s coming one right after the other, I don’t have a second to even pick my nose for two whole months.

coconut lime braised chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

This holiday season officially kicked my over-padded butt, so with the coming of the new year and the official end of the holiday season, I decided to take a brief but much needed and well deserved break.

I hope you were able to find some way to manage in my absence.
You knew I’d be back eventually, didn’t you?

coconut lime braised chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

Here we are mid-January now, and things are finally feeling like they’re back to normal. In more ways than one…

Up until very recently, this “winter” has been unseasonably (and disconcertingly) warm here in Brooklyn. The day that Russell and I bought our baby little Christmas tree we passed blooming cherry trees as we carried it home. We had the windows open to enjoy the warm weather on Christmas day, but once I put the pork roast into the oven we were all fanning ourselves and dripping sweat. On New Year’s eve the begonias and impatiens in my back yard, and the rose bushes planted in front of work, were all blooming big and bright in stark contrast to the brown bare branches of Brooklyn’s trees.

Winter weather has finally caught up with us though, and the backyard is finally looking as brown and barren as it’s supposed to this time of year. Temperatures have finally begun dipping below freezing, and a few days ago winter winds knocked over the grill in my backyard as if to say, “Take that warm weather!” I even heard on the news this morning that we may soon see our first snow flakes in the next day or two.

coconut lime braised chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

With Winter’s frigid temperatures finally catching up to us, I’ve had a hankering for some rich and satisfying comfort food.

coconut lime braised chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

Chicken thighs are one of my ultimate favorite comfort foods. I’ve made lots and lots and LOTS of chicken thigh recipes over the years, and for good reason. They’re rich and flavorful and satisfying. They have way more flavor than chicken breast, and unlike breasts, thighs are almost impossible to overcook to the point where they dry out. As if that ain’t enough, they’re also significantly more affordable than breast meat.

While I’ve roasted ’em, seared ’em, and even grilled ’em, my favorite thing to do with chicken thighs is to braise them.

coconut lime braised chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

Normally I like to go for classic flavors like white wine and chicken stock, but this sudden onset of cold weather had me craving something more tropical. After a bit of thought I decided to try braising my beloved chicken things in bright Southeast Asian flavors like coconut, lime, ginger, and chili sauce.

coconut lime braised chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

I was craving something rich and hearty and satisfying, and this chicken does not disappoint.

The coconut milk adds a perfect creaminess without feeling heavy, and the acid of the lime brightens things up and cuts through the richness of the chicken. The fresh ginger, garlic, & sriracha add a gentle heat and a depth of flavor, which is perfectly complimented by the umami saltiness of a bit of soy sauce. After simmering for almost an hour, another squeeze of fresh lime and a heavy handed sprinkle of cilantro and green onion add a summery freshness that’s more than welcome in these chilly winter months.

coconut lime braised chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

Coconut Lime Braised Chicken Thighs

  • Servings: 4 to 8, depending on size of thighs
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3 to 4 lbs (about 6 to 8) chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or olive oil)
1 small onion, finely diced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed or very finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 to 2 tablespoons Sriracha chili sauce
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce (or 1 tablespoon regular soy sauce)
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
zest and juice of 2 limes, separately
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped or torn
1 small bunch green onion, thinly sliced

Season the chicken thighs generously with salt and pepper. Let the chicken absorb the seasoning at room temperature for about 30 minutes before proceeding.

Heat coconut oil in a large lidded skillet, braising pan or dutch oven over high heat. Brown for about 5 minutes on both sides, starting with the skin side down first. Depending on the size of your thighs the chicken thighs, you may need to do this in two batches. Remove and transfer to a plate.

A lot of fat will likely render out of the skin, pour all but 1 tablespoon out of the pan. Reduce heat to medium and sauté onions for about three to five minutes, or until soft and translucent but not brown. Stir in garlic, ginger, and Sriracha and sauté for one minute more. Stir in chicken stock, turn heat back up to high, and reduce by at least half, for about five to ten minutes. Stir in soy sauce, coconut milk and zest and juice of one of the limes. Arrange chicken thighs, skin side up, in a single layer. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for half an hour. Remove lid and simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes more.

Stir in cilantro, green onion, and zest and juice of remaining lime. Serve over a bed of white rice or rice noodles, with a ladle of sauce and sprinkle of more fresh cilantro and green onion if desired.

braised chicken thighs with mushrooms and creamy polenta

When I first met my husband he was convinced that he was “allergic” to mushrooms.

braised chicken thighs with mushrooms and creamy polenta | Brooklyn Homemaker

He had somehow lived his entire life believing that mushrooms, along with a few other foods, caused a very slight allergic tingle in his throat that (in his words) made him go “eh”. When he described the reactions to his “allergies” to me, I knew immediately that he was full of it. I myself have always loved mushrooms though, so I made it my mission to convince him that these food allergies were all in his head.

braised chicken thighs with mushrooms and creamy polenta | Brooklyn Homemaker

I was relentless. We had just started dating, so he didn’t yet know just how stubborn and determined I can be when I think know I’m right, and he was eventually forced to give in to reason and logic. While he finally admitted that most of the foods in question were ones that he just didn’t like, mushrooms ended up being something that he decided were worth giving another try.

braised chicken thighs with mushrooms and creamy polenta | Brooklyn Homemaker

To my surprise (and delight) he ended up loving them! I don’t even really understand where he’d picked up the idea he didn’t like (or was allergic to) mushrooms in the first place, but now we eat them all the time! No throat tingle, no “eh”.

I think that adding mushrooms to a dish is an easy and affordable way to add a hearty richness to foods that might otherwise be bland and boring. I always find myself wanting to “beef up” my dinners with the meaty earthiness of mushrooms as soon as the weather starts to turn cold. As much as they’re kind of assertive and distinct, mushrooms also seem to be incredibly versatile and go with a huge variety of foods and flavors.

braised chicken thighs with mushrooms and creamy polenta | Brooklyn Homemaker

Back when I was single, and tended to spend more of my money on barhopping than recipe planning, I used to use mushrooms as a way to either stretch whatever protein I was cooking, or replace it altogether. When I was in the mood for something that felt sort of decadent and “fancy”, but didn’t have much time or money to spend on it, I loved to sauté mushrooms in butter and pile them up over some creamy polenta.

If you’re not familiar with polenta, you need to be. It’s super easy and cheap to make, and only takes about 20 minutes. It’s little more than cornmeal porridge, but the addition of chicken stock and a little butter and cheese make it somehow seem wonderfully rich and elegant. Creamy polenta tends to be the simplest and easiest preparation, but if you let it set up and get firm after cooking you can even slice it and grill, bake, or fry the wedges or sticks.

braised chicken thighs with mushrooms and creamy polenta | Brooklyn Homemaker

While white buttons used to have the mushroom monopoly, these days you have a few more options at the grocery store than that. While I do like their texture, I think that buttons tend to be a bit bland, so if you want to use them I’d suggest mixing them with another, more flavorful, variety. If you’re really into mushrooms and want to play with flavors and textures, go wild and use a mix of trumpets, hen-of-the-woods, and shiitakes (just be sure to remove the stems). Some of those varieties can be a bit on the pricier side though, so to get a big bang for a little buck I like to use a mix of creminis and portobellos.

braised chicken thighs with mushrooms and creamy polenta | Brooklyn Homemaker

The best part of this meal is how cheap and easy it is to throw together. You can have dinner on the table in under an hour, and everything that goes into it is super affordable. I’m sure I sound like a broken record here, but chicken thighs are my absolute favorite. Besides being cheap, they’re also way more flavorful than breasts and have a much nicer texture and don’t dry out when they’re cooked through.

This meal is perfect for fall. The chicken thighs are tender, rich, and super flavorful. The mushrooms have a great rustic meaty flavor and texture and help make this meal feel really filling and substantial. The wine adds a really subtle fruitiness and helps build depth, while the thyme adds a distinctive earthiness. Polenta is the perfect creamy complement to all the rich and solid flavor going on here.

braised chicken thighs with mushrooms and creamy polenta | Brooklyn Homemaker

Braised Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms and Creamy Polenta

2 lbs (about 4 large or 8 small) chicken thighs, bone in & skin on
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 lb (16 oz) mushrooms, thinly sliced (I used a mix of cremini and portobello)
3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock

Creamy Polenta:
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Generously season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Coat each piece with flour in a small dish and set aside. Preheat a large cast iron skillet over high heat, melt the butter and add the chicken pieces, skin side down. Brown each piece for 5 minutes on each side and remove to a plate to rest. Add onions and mushrooms to pan and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the mushrooms give off their liquid, and continue to cook over high heat until liquid is almost completely reduced, about 10 minutes. Stir in the wine and chicken stock. Gently press the chicken pieces down into the mushrooms, and add the thyme sprigs. Reduce heat to just shy of medium and let simmer until liquid is reduced and chicken is cooked through, about 20 or 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the creamy polenta. Heat the stock, water, & milk to a low simmer in a medium saucepan. Generously season with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal making sure there are no lumps. Stir regularly until the polenta is very thick and creamy, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in grated cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Once chicken is cooked through, remove thyme sprigs. Spoon polenta into a bowl and top with mushroom mixture and some reduced liquid. Top with a piece (or two if small) of chicken.