Braised Chicken with Shallots

Can we take care of a bit of business before we dive into this dish here? The Washington Post is once again holding the DCTweeps contest. They’ve spruced up the rules, added new categories and thrown in wildcard voting – but they still have a “Favorite Foodie” category, and I’m still nominated! Would you guys take a moment and go vote for me? It’s nearly the last category (so annoying, I know) but along the way you can vote for great folks like Borderstan (Fave Local Blogger), Andy Carvin (Fave Social Media Geek) and Allison Sosna (Fave Activist). I’ll be forever thankful – I’ll even make a weird or difficult recipe for you and do the dirty research to see if it’s worth it! (Maybe. If you want me to make something ridiculous from the Alinea cookbook well, no. I won’t do that.)

Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled recipe.

Remember when I butchered that chicken back in March? Well, I walked away from the class with two whole chickens, broken down, bits and all. It was still chilly and I’d just bought my dutch oven and was itching to use it. In case you didn’t know: chicken + dutch oven = braising. At least in my house it does.

A quick Google search brought me to this Martha Stewart recipe, which I have to say is a nice jumping off point for braising chicken. It has all the important elements – white wine, mustard and a good sear on the meat before you get started. Here’s the good news: the chicken comes out so tender, nearly fall off the bone tender. And the shallots, translucent with each layer delicately separated, take on a whole new texture and flavor, almost candied! 

But, while five cloves of garlic is nothing to scoff at, there’s a real shortage of herbal flavor here. When I make this dish again, there’s going to be an herb bundle thrown in there, maybe even some fried garlic/herbs during that searing you have to do with the chicken. I’d also throw in some hearty root vegetables – maybe parsnips or carrots or even some brussel sprouts. I wanted more color, varying textures and more flavors.

I served this with a creamy polenta which hit the spot for a chilly night spent in over several bottles of wine. I made the whole shebang for Ian (who photographed the original chicken butchering post) as a thank you for his photo work and I think he liked it…he surely ate everything on his plate!

Are you guys braising anything? I’m quite excited to use my dutch oven to do a lot of braising this winter, so I’m definitely taking suggestions!

Braised Chicken with Shallots

Everyday Food, 2006

  • 8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds total)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound small shallots (about 12), peeled and halved
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Fresh tarragon leaves, for garnish (optional)
Season chicken with salt and pepper; coat with flour, shaking off excess.
In a Dutch oven or 5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high.
Cook chicken until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove; set aside.
Add shallots and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add wine; cook until evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in mustard and 1 1/2 cups water; bring to a boil.
Return chicken, bone side down, to pot. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until chicken is tender and cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate; loosely tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Add tomatoes to pot; season with salt and pepper. Cook on high until sauce has thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, and return chicken to pot; cook until heated through.
Serve, garnished with tarragon, if desired.

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