Week two of poultry was an interesting class.
The reason? BRAISING!! This week was all about the wet, slow cooking of poultry. Braising is a wet, low temperature cooking technique which tenderizes tough cuts of meat, just like stewing! Well, almost. With braising, the pieces of protein are bigger and have bones in them. stewing has more liquid. The gravy from braising has more richness and flavor because of the marrow and bones.
The best parts of the bird to use for this kind of cooking are the legs and thighs. You can use breast meat, but it takes much less time to cook because of the leanness of the meat. If you choose to braise a whole bird, just take the breast meat out first. Personally, I take the skin off before braising. You’ll get a lot less fat in the dish….but you’ll also lose a little flavor too.
Basically, this is how you braise anything:
2. Brown it in batches, don’t crowd it and don’t move it! If it’s not brown enough, it will stick to the pan. Browning is important as it keeps much of the flavor in, like how searing does for steaks.
3. Flip it over, do the same thing.
4. Take meat out. Pour off excess fat and cook whatever veggies are going in your dish, along with wine or vinegar or whatever liquid you have to deglaze the pan.
5. Add back your chicken, as well hearty herbs and season to taste.
6. Bring to a simmer. Never boil when you braise, as this will make the meat tougher. Cover dish. You can braise in the oven at 300-325 degrees or on the stove.
7. Wait. Wait some more.
8. The meat is done when it’s fork tender. Take out meat. Taste liquid, reduce if necessary.
9. Add back meat and any last minute delicate herbs. Season to taste.
There. Now you know our whole lesson. Especially pay attention to step 7. Most dishes take over an hour to braise properly, so that’s what we did. We waited. We chatted. We cleaned up our prep areas. We waited again. Then finally, all the dishes were finished and they were wonderful! I made a lovely Chicken Provençal, which I will share with you below. It’s easy, tasty and beautiful to look at.
By the way, anything you braise or stew ALWAYS tastes better the next day, so my recommendation would be to make it the day before you want to eat it, so all the wonderful flavors can meld together!!
8-12 chicken thighs
2-3 T olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 t fresh rosemary, finely minced
1 t thyme, minced
1 C canned tomatoes, seeded
½ C white wine
1 C chicken stock
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken thighs in olive oil. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside. In the same pan, sauté onion and peppers until soft. Add garlic, herbs and tomatoes. Simmer for about 2 minutes. Add wine and stock to the pan. Assess your sauce and add any seasoning. Braise chicken until tender. Remove chicken and reduce sauce if necessary.