Ignore those button mushrooms next to the broccolini (or don’t)- I just sauteed them and put them on the plate to use up leftover mushrooms in the fridge. They married well with the other ingredients, though.
I’m cooling off from my sugar rush and getting back to my culinary school basics. While I cooked some great recipes in school, there’s one that stood out for its easy yet powerful flavor. Balsamic braised chicken is deceptively simple and sensible, and easily multiplied for extra guests. The rich brown sauce that drenches it isn’t ladden with butter, but instead, its full of rich, slow cooked chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, vegetables, tomato, and a touch of flour, to thicken it. No roux, no heavy cream, just a deep, dark, delicious sauce.
Now you may be wondering what in god’s name are those potatoes on the plate. Good question. In culinary school we were tortured by this exercise where we made “tourne” potatoes. (There should be that little accent over the “e” but alas, I’m new to this blogging thing, and don’t know how to add accents, so forgive me French cooking masters, as you roll in your graves.) Anyway, “tourne” means turned, and that’s what’s done to these potatoes. You peel and quarter your russet potato, then trim it, turning it dangerously in your hand as you point the tip of your knife towards your finger, to create a football shaped potato nugget. Yum. Now you could make any shape you want, but having a food blog makes you an anal cook, so I made pretty shapes with my potatoes. Also, football was on that evening. Get it? Yeah, dorky, I know. Parboil them in salted water for about 10 minutes (or until they barely resist being poked with a sharp knife tip), dry them with a clean towel, and saute them in olive oil, sprinkling with coarse salt as they come out of the pan. You’ll find they are a perfect pairing for your chicken (the main squeeze) and your broccolini (your obligatory veg). Double yum. Or is that triple?
The only trick to making this recipe excellent instead of just “good” is to taste your sauce and add more balsamic if the flavor isn’t coming through. It looks as dark in person as it does in the picture, so don’t be shy. Also, balsamic vinegars vary greatly in sweetness, viscosity, and acidity, and I won’t dare to tell you which you should buy, so feel free to add a touch of sugar or lemon juice, to balance the flavors of the sauce. Enjoy!
Balsamic Braised Chicken
Makes 3 Servings
6 chicken thighs, bone-in
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp flour
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 cup Balsamic Vinegar (the better the quality, the better the outcome, but don’t go crazy)
vegetable oil, as needed
salt and pepper, as needed
Sauteed broccolini and tourne potatoes, to serve (factor in 1 small bunch broccolini and 1 medium potato per person)
1. Add 2 tbsp oil to a large, deep pan (one that has a lid that fits, ideally) and turn heat to medium-high.
2. Sear chicken thighs, meaty-side down, turning once, to color both sides a nice golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Add carrots, celery, onion, and a pinch of salt to the same pan (do not wash between steps!) and saute until golden brown and slightly softened, 5-7 minutes.
3. Add tomato paste, “pincage” until the tomato paste turns an even darker red and add the flour, mixing well. Cook 1 minute to get rid of the raw flour taste.
4. Add chicken stock and balsamic vinegar to the pan, turn the heat up to high, and bring to a boil. Add the chicken thighs back in and reduce to a simmer. Cover immediately and let cook for 25-35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. You may want to turn chicken over after 15 minutes to ensure even cooking, as the liquid will not cover the chicken entirely.
5. Remove chicken to serving plates, taste sauce for seasoning, and adjust as necessary with salt and pepper. If you desire, the sauce can be strained, but I prefer it unstrained. Thicken a little if necessary by cooking the sauce a little longer on the stovetop, without a lid, and pour sauce over the chicken. Add broccolini, potatoes, or whatever sides and vegetables you wish, to the plates and enjoy!
-M : )