Braised Chicken Thighs

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This recipe is definitely not complicated but instead re-introduces the concept of braising. Loosely defined, braising is “frying or searing meat to then slowly stew in broth or other liquid”. The result? Tender, juicy, flavorful meat! Chicken thighs are a great protein to try braising on as they are easy to work with and fairly forgiving. (Not to mention they are frequently a bargain purchase at our local grocery store) The vinegary braise packs a flavorful punch and you can play around with the veggies you use in this recipe.

We’ve explored this a little bit with the Osso Bucco previously and it’s a technique I enjoy. What’s your opinion? Do you have a favorite braising recipe?


Braised Chicken Thighs

  • 4-6 chicken thighs (or quarters)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3-4 carrots, diced
  • 3-4 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 T butter

Preheat the oven to 375.

You are going to want to use a large, heavy, oven-safe pot or Dutch oven for this recipe.  I like using our enamel-coated cast iron for this job as it is easy to take from stove to oven and back again.  Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in your pot of choice.

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and add to the pot, skin side down to start.  Let the chicken brown on the skin side, then flip over and brown the other side. You want a nice dark brown sear, the chicken will finish cooking as it braises in the oven.   When browned, transfer the chicken to a plate or tray.

Spoon off all but about 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot. Add the carrots, celery, garlic and onion and cook over medium heat until the veggies are softened.

Add the flour and stir for a minute, cooking the flour a bit.  Add the cider vinegar and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot and avoiding lumps from the flour.  Bring the sauce to a boil and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Add the chicken broth, thyme, season with a little salt and pepper and bring the sauce back up to a boil.  Nestle the chicken thighs into the sauce, skin side up.  It doesn’t matter if the chicken is completely covered, you just want to make sure that all the chicken is tucked into the pot.  Put a lid, or foil, on the pot and transfer it to the oven.  Braise the chicken for 40-45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the pot from the oven.

Optional step:  if you want a crispy skin, transfer the chicken skin side up to a sheet tray and set the oven to broil. Broil the chicken until the skin is golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.

Ladle a cup or two of the braising liquid into a small pot. Simmer the sauce over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce is as thick as you like it.  When it’s just about done, add the butter and taste for seasoning.

When serving this dish, I like to strain some of the veggies from the braising liquid and plate those on top of the chicken thighs.  I then drizzle some of the thickened sauce across the top of the chicken and serve typically with mashed potatoes and a green side.

Try this one out and let me know what you think!


Full Recipe

Braised Chicken Thighs

  • 4-6 chicken thighs (or quarters)
  • 2 T olive
  • 3-4 carrots, diced
  • 3-4 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 T butter

Preheat oven to 375.  

In a large oven-safe pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.

Season chicken thighs with s&p and add to pot, skin side down.

Cook in batches, turning once, until golden brown.

Transfer chicken to plate/tray.

Spoon off all but about 2 T of fat in pot.

Add carrots, celery, garlic and onion.

Cook over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add flour and stir for 1 minute.

Add cider vinegar and stir, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of the pot.

Bring sauce to a boil and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Add broth, thyme and season with s&p; bring to a boil.

Nestle the chicken in the sauce, skin side up.

Cover and transfer the pot to the oven and braise chicken for 40-45 min, until cooked through.

Remove pot from oven and preheat to broil.

Transfer chicken to a baking sheet, skin side up.  

Broil on middle rack of the oven until skin is golden and crisp, about 5 min.

Ladle a cup or two of the braising liquid into a small pot.

Simmer sauce over moderate heat until reduced to your desired thickness.

Stir in butter and taste for seasoning.

Serve chicken with veggies strained from braising liquid and sauce drizzled over the top of each piece.

Fried Rice and Easy Potstickers

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Life gets busy, y’all.

As you can tell from my lack of posts, this is a busy time of the year for us. This is the time when we all need a stash of quick dinnertime recipes to get us through, am I right?  This fried rice totally fits the bill.  It’s a quick pull-together option that is pretty customizable and perfect for leftover rice.  Like, the drier/stickier the rice, the better in this case. I’m pretty bad about making way too much rice as a side dish so it is not uncommon to see this dish as a follow-up throughout the week in our house.  You can also make it more of a centerpiece dish by adding these easy potstickers on the side.  What’s so easy about them?  We skip the attempt at making the dumpling dough and reach for the premade wonton wrappers instead.

So how can you change these two recipes up?  Both call for ground pork – you can use the Asian Sausage as we did, or sub in ground/shredded chicken, ground beef, thinly sliced pork chops or leave out the meat completely for a vegetarian option.  You can use the potsticker filling in egg rolls, or scoop it into a bowl with fried wonton strips for an even faster “deconstructed” egg roll dish.  Pick and choose the veggie options for both the fried rice and filling to whatever you have currently available in your fridge.

So let me hear you – what are your go-to dinners for when life gets busy?


Fried Rice and Easy Potstickers

For the Fried Rice:

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced – reserve half of the sliced green tops
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ – 1 cup thinly shredded cabbage (optional)
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • Chicken stock
  • Soy sauce

For the Potstickers:

  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 2 stalks celery, julienned
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup thinly shredded cabbage
  • Wonton wrappers

For the Dipping Sauce:

  • 6 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 thinly chopped scallion
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 inch ginger, finely minced
  • 8 T soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp sesame oil (2-3 drops)
  • 1 T chili garlic paste

Start by mixing up the dipping sauce so that it has time to sit and develop.  That’s all it takes – mix all the ingredients together and let it sit at room temperature for at least an hour.  This sauce is great with dumplings, potstickers, egg rolls, etc.

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The most time consuming piece of this recipe is prepping the veggies.  I do highly recommend spending some time chopping and prepping the veggies before you start cooking as it all comes together pretty quickly once you start cooking. For the rice, I cut all the veggies other than the bell pepper into a small dice for even cooking.  I like to leave the bell pepper in a good-sized strip so that they don’t completely wilt away when cooking, especially if you are using the small thinner-skinned sweet bell peppers like we typically do.  For the potstickers, you want to julienne the veggies in to thin strips. This cut helps for a couple of reasons.  First, the thin strips cook quickly and second, they are pretty uniform inside the potstickers. You can see the difference here between the veggies for the rice on the left and the veggies for the potstickers on the right.

I also shred the cabbage pretty thinly and sprinkle a little salt on it as it sits so that some of the water inside the cabbage starts to draw out a bit before adding it to the saute pan.

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Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high. Add olive oil to the pan and begin to saute the full pound of ground pork. As stated above, we used the Asian Sausage recipe for this dish.  If you are using a plain ground pork, ground beef or chicken, season the meat with a little ginger, coriander, garlic, salt and pepper. Once the pork is browned, remove half of the meat and set it aside for the fried rice.

If keeping your dinner vegetarian, you would start here 🙂

To the pork left in the pan, add the julienned celery and carrots, scallion and garlic.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Saute the mix until the veggies are just starting to become tender.

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Add the shredded cabbage, excess water drained/dabbed off, and toss the mixture until the cabbage is wilted.  Remove from the heat.

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Lay one wonton wrapper on a tray or sheet of parchment paper. Place one heaping teaspoon of the filling on the wrapper just off-center.  Using room temperature water, wet two edges of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the filling and press the edges together. Set the potsticker aside and repeat the process for the desired amount of potstickers.  (The remaining filling freezes very well if you do not use it all here)

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As you can see, we tried a few different shapes and sealing/pinching techniques on the potstickers.  Will liked using a biscuit cutter which gave the rounded, scalloped edges.  Mine were freeformed and definitely less precise!

Place the nonstick skillet back over medium high heat and cover the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil. *Nonstick is KEY here!* Place the potstickers in a single layer over the bottom of the skillet and cook for just about one minute, until the bottoms are starting to turn golden.  Pour some water in the pan until just the bottoms of the dumplings are covered and place a lid over the skillet.  This action will steam the potstickers to heat up the filling and cook the dough through.  Cook until most of the water has vaporized, about 7 minutes.

Remove the lid and cook until the bottoms of the potstickers are golden brown, another 1-2 minutes.

While the potstickers are steaming, prepare the fried rice.

Heat another nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Scramble the eggs, then set them aside and wipe out the skillet.

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Add the reserved 1/2 pound of cooked pork. Add a little olive oil, if necessary, then add the celery, carrots, whites and half of the greens of the scallion, bell pepper, garlic, and cabbage (if using).  Saute until the veggies are softened.

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Add the rice to the skillet.  This is where your actions will change a little depending on how dry or sticky your rice is.  Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce over the rice and begin to “fry” it in the pan.  The rice should stick and brown up a little. If the rice is fairly wet and sticky, you may be pretty good here.  If the rice is cold or drier, add a little chicken stock, just a couple tablespoons at a time, to loosen it up a little so that it will cook and brown in the pan.  You want the rice to take in a little of the liquid but not become too wet and mushy as you cook.  Taste it and check for consistency and seasoning.  Continue to fry the rice in the pan until you have reached your desired texture.

Stir in the scrambled egg at the very end so that you don’t break it up too much – I like to leave pretty decent sized chunks of egg in the rice.  Remove the rice from the heat.

Sprinkle the fried rice with the reserved green portion of scallion and serve with additional soy sauce, if desired.  Drizzle the dipping sauce over a few of the potstickers and serve with additional sauce on the side.

Looks pretty impressive for a quick weeknight dinner, don’t you think? 😉


Full Recipe

Fried Rice

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ pound ground pork -or- Asian sausage
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced – reserve half of the sliced green tops
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ – 1 cup thinly shredded cabbage (optional)
  • 2 cups cooked rice (great for leftover rice)
  • Chicken stock
  • Soy sauce

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat.

Scramble the eggs.

Set aside and wipe out the skillet.

Add oil to the skillet, saute pork until browned. (Season with garlic, ginger, coriander, salt and pepper)

Add the celery, carrots, whites and half of the greens of the scallion, bell pepper, garlic and cabbage, if using.

Saute until veggies are softened.

Add rice to the skillet.

Top with 1-2 T soy sauce and “fry” in pan.

If the rice is dry, add a little chicken stock.  Continue to “fry” until you have reached your desired texture – taste and adjust seasonings.

Stir in scrambled egg.

Remove from heat, top with reserved scallions.

Easy Potstickers

  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 2 stalks celery, julienned
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup thinly shredded cabbage
  • Wonton wrappers

Saute the pork in a skillet until cooked through.

Add the celery, carrots, scallion and garlic, season with salt and pepper.

Saute until veggies are starting to become tender.

Add cabbage and toss until wilted.

Remove from heat.

Lay one wonton wrapper on a tray.

Place one heaping teaspoon on the wrapper just off-center.

Using room temperature water, wet two edges of the wonton wrapper.

Fold the wrapper over the filling and press the edges together.

Set aside and repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat and cover the bottom with oil.

Cook for about 1 minutes, until bottom of dumplings are golden.

Pour some water in the pan until the bottoms of the dumplings are covered.

Place a lid over the skillet and steam the dumplings until most of the water has vaporized, about 7 minutes.

Remove the lid, cook until the bottoms are golden brown.

Dipping Sauce

  • 6 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 thinly chopped scallion
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 inch ginger, finely minced
  • 8 T soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp sesame oil (2-3 drops)
  • 1 T chili garlic paste

Mix all ingredients together.

Let sit at room temp 1 hour.

Crawfish Cornbread

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Crawfish boils are one of the best things about springtime. Typically they involve warmer weather, piles of peel-and-eat mudbugs, various veggies that have soaked up all the good spice, dirty rice, lots of napkins, drinks and good friends.  Minus the warm weather, we had all that this past weekend.

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Towards the end of the night, I start hoping for leftovers.  That’s because something tasty comes the day after a boil… Crawfish Cornbread.  This recipe comes from a family friend of Will’s and it has now become a post-boil tradition in our little home. It’s easy to make and makes a potentially forgotten and leftover mudbug shine as a new dinner option.

Fun fact:  Will also won the Friday Night Feast event at a local cookoff with this recipe.  It’s award-winning cornbread!

Do you love a good crawfish boil?  What’s your go-to for leftovers?


Crawfish Cornbread

  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Cajun spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 C cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ C chopped green onions
  • ½ C chopped bell pepper, or small can of diced green chiles
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 lb crawfish tails

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a large bowl, or using a mixer, combine the cornbread mix, melted butter and eggs.

Stir in the creamed corn.  Add the baking soda, Cajun spice*, salt, pepper and shredded cheese.

*For Cajun spice, we tend to use something along the lines of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning.  If you are into making your own blends, I like to follow the recipes for Emeril Lagasse’s seasonings.

At this point, I usually take the bowl off the mixer stand and do the rest by hand. Stir in the chopped veggies and the crawfish tails.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9×13 baking dish.

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Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is a golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Easy, right?!

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Full Recipe

Crawfish Cornbread

  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Cajun spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 C cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ C chopped green onions
  • ½ C chopped bell pepper, or small can of diced green chiles
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 lb crawfish tails

Mix all ingredients and pour into a prepared baking dish.

Bake at 375 for about 45-50 minutes.