Chicken Thighs Braised in White Wine

I haven’t been picking winners lately.

Crispy Baked Tilapia with Panko Crumbs?  Sounds good, but the recommended cooking time left the fish a bit tough, despite my monstrous fillets.  I also should have known better when there was no mention of salting the panko.

Spring Vegetable Carbonara?  Inexpensive and pretty tasty, but certainly not blog worthy.

Crispy Breaded Shrimp with Cannellini?  (What’s with me and “crispy” this week?) Borderline gross.  The shrimp were perfectly cooked, but the rosemary completely overwhelmed the dish.  The cooked arugula and bean salad was surprisingly bitter.

Ugh.

So you can imagine how pleased I was to turn out a winner this week: Chicken Thighs Braised in White Wine from the May 2006 issue of Everyday Food.  The tender, juicy meat, bright flavors, and amazing sauce restored my faith in the kitchen, y’all.  Plus, this is one of those dishes where even though the cooking time is a bit long, it’s pretty hands off.  Easy and delicious?  I’ll take it.

To start, I rounded up 8 bone-in chicken thighs.  Martha specifies skinless, bone-in chicken thighs for this recipe, but those are a rare beast.  In my grocery store, there are two options: boneless and skinless, or bone-in with skin on.  Since skinning chicken thighs isn’t high on my list of things I love to do, I decided to just leave the skin on during cooking and then remove it on my plate.  If you fear the fat, you’ll probably want to skin them.  I have to tell you, though, that rendered chicken fat sure adds some unctuous goodness to the sauce in the end.

I put the chicken thighs bone side up in a 12-inch skillet with a tight-fitting lid and gave them a generous sprinkle of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.  To the skillet, I added 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves, 1 cup of dry white wine (I used Smooking Loon Sauvignon Blanc, my favorite cheapie), and 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme.  I brought the liquid to a boil, reduced it to a simmer, covered the skillet with the lid, and cooked for 30 minutes.

(This is a good time to slice the lemon, chop the parsley, and have a glass of the leftover wine.)

When the 30 minutes had passed, I turned the chicken and placed 1 thin lemon slice on each piece.  I re-covered the skillet and continued cooking until the chicken was tender (15 minutes).  Leaving the garlic and the cooking liquid in the skillet, I transferred the chicken and the lemon slices to a platter and covered it with foil to keep the chicken warm.  Next, I raised the heat to bring the cooking liquid to a boil and cooked until it was reduced to about 1/2 cup (5 minutes).  I removed the skillet from the heat and added 1 tablespoon of cold butter (cut into small pieces), 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley, and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to the reduced liquid, stirring until the sauce was smooth.  I checked the seasoning of the sauce (mine didn’t need any adjustments) and served it over the chicken.

Chicken Thighs Braised in White Wine

Man, was this ever good.  Peeling back the chicken skin revealed juicy, perfectly cooked chicken and the sauce was absolutely fantastic.  The rendered chicken fat made it a bit naughty, I know, but it was worth it.  Although the flavor profile was different, this brought back memories of the dripping-with-chicken-goodness vegetables that came out of my attempt at Ina Garten’s Perfect Roast Chicken. Delicious!

TIPS:  As a person who typically cooks pretty healthy meals, I feel like I should issue a warning to those of you who are accustomed to low-fat cooking.  If you leave the skin on the chicken during cooking, there will be rendered chicken fat in the sauce. And, as we all know, high-temperature fat is often liquid, while room-temperature fat is often solid.  So what’s going to happen as any leftover sauce cools in the pan?  It’s going to congeal a bit.  I could go without the reminder that I’m eating actual chicken fat, but hey – that’s how it goes.  The sauce truly is delicious when it’s hot, though, so I wouldn’t let this sway you if you’re thinking about giving the recipe a try with skin-on thighs.

Recipe link: Chicken Thighs Braised in White Wine

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