Thursday, February 21, 2013
Braised Chicken Puttanesca
There's only so much talking about the cold I can get away with on this blog. I did agree to move to North Dakota four years ago and so I can't really complain too much about the weather. But -20°F is a little extreme, wouldn't you agree?
Last week we got a respite when the thermostat climbed all the way up to 37°F. The day before we had a little storm that left about a foot of fresh snow on the ground and I bundled the kids up to go out and play.
The baby didn't last long, the heft of his boots was too much for his little legs to manage so he planted himself down in the snow and refused to get up.
Louisa on the other hand pounced and trounced and spread snow angles all over the yard. There is a magical combination of snow and kids that made me feel blessed to live somewhere snowy. The next day the temperature dropped and I changed my mind.
To raise my spirits back again I turned to food—more specifically, braised chicken. It is my absolute favorite way to eat chicken—always juicy, always tender, and steeped with flavor. This particular braise is one I make frequently. It has all the elements I want, a little spicy, a little briny, and doesn't take too long to cook either.
That being said, the beauty of braised chicken is that you could use just about anything you have on hand. The only required elements are the chicken of course, some aromatics like onion or garlic, some liquid like wine or stock and salt and pepper. Everything else is icing on the cake, or a great way to use up desperate looking vegetables in your refrigerator.
Just follow the same method used here and substitute whatever ingredients you have on hand. The chicken gets browned in oil first, then the vegetables, add the liquid and any herbs or spices, return the chicken to the pan, cover and braise until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
Variations abound. Think of it as a blank slate or a yard full of fresh snow.
Braised Chicken Puttanesca
Adapted from Mad Hungry
Makes 4 servings
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes (or more to taste)
3/4 cup white wine
1 (14 1/2oz) can whole peeled tomatoes
1/4 cup Lucques olives, pitted
1 tablespoon capers
Heat oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Pat chicken pieces dry with paper towel and generously season on all sides with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a large oven-safe braiser or frying pan with a lid over medium-high heat. Place chicken in the pan skin-side-down, a few pieces at a time and cook for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Turn and repeat on the other side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining chicken pieces.
Add onion and bell pepper to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook until starting to brown then add garlic and cook 30 seconds more. Stir in tomato paste and chili flakes and cook a minute or two, stirring constantly. Add wine and scrape up any browned bits that are stuck to the bottom.
Stir in remaining ingredients, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of the spoon. Return chicken to the pan, skin side up and bring to a boil, then cover and transfer to the oven. Braise until chicken is very tender and cooked through, about 35-45 minutes. Serve with risotto, farro, or polenta.