Thursday, 6 November 2014

Braised Chicken Thighs with Capers, Raisins and Shallots

This meal is a favourite of ours, and when I realized I had 3 stalks of celery, some shallots, half a can of tomato paste and some open beef stock to use up, this came to mind. And yes, I did say beef stock, even though it is a chicken recipe. Somehow it works, adding a lovely richness to the sauce.

Start off the day before , by marinading the chicken thighs. I use boneless, skinless thighs, you can use bone-in thighs if you wish. The bone will add more flavour to the sauce, we just prefer not having to deal with the bones!

 Place the marinade ingredients in a large ziploc bag. You will need:

3/4 cup dry red wine
3 stalks of celery, sliced about 1/2" thick
4 - 5 shallots, peeled and cut into 4 - 6 pieces (depending on the size of the shallot)
1/3 cup dark raisins
1/4 cup capers
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

Add 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs and seal the bag, squeezing out as much air as you can.

Leave to marinate in the fridge overnight.

Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade, reserving the marinade to make the sauce.

In a hot pan, with a drizzle of olive oil, brown the chicken thighs.

Remove them from the pan, and set aside.

Add the reserved marinade to the pan, and bring it to a boil.

Now add in:

1 cup beef stock
1/4 cup of tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
!/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Once the liquid is boiling again, return the browned chicken thighs to the pan.

Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 1 hour.

Remove the lid, skim off any excess fat, taste and adjust seasoning.

I like to serve this chicken over soft polenta, but it is also yummy over noodles or rice.

  • This recipe is perfect for a slow cooker. After marinating the chicken, place all the ingredients into the slow cooker, and leave it to do its job. Browning the chicken adds some flavour, but is not an essential step.
  • Onions, cut into large dice, or leeks can be substitutes for the shallots.
  • Add olives to the sauce, for another dimension.
  • Chopped dried apricots or figs can be used instead of the raisins. I prefer dark raisins, but golden raisins can also be used. 
  • If you use dried herbs, you only need 1 teaspoon of each.
  • The chicken can be placed in the marinade and then frozen, to be defrosted and cooked whenever you are ready.
  • The beef stock in the recipe allows you to use other meats, such as beef short ribs or a pot roast. The cooking time will need to be adjusted, as these will take longer to cook than the chicken thighs do.
  • Other vegetables can be added to the sauce. Diced carrots, zucchini or sliced mushrooms can be cooked in the pan until starting to soften, after the chicken has been removed. Add the marinade, tomato paste and stock, replace the chicken and allow it all to braise.

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