You might be tired of heavy winter braises by now since spring is in full force, but that doesn't mean you should retire the braising pot just yet. All the gorgeous spring vegetables still work beautifully in a quicker, lighter braise — one where you can still taste the unique flavors of each vegetable.
Chicken is the perfect protein for a quick braise. I like to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but you could also substitute chicken breast as long as you keep an eye on it so it doesn't overcook. Like most braises, this one starts with searing the chicken to both give it color and to develop some flavor in the process. However, since this is boneless chicken, I like to only sear one side so that the chicken doesn't dry out.
After the chicken is seared, onions, thyme, new potatoes, spicy radishes, and chicken broth are stewed together until tender. The resulting broth is light but flavorful, and the braise is finished with the peppery radish greens, fresh peas, parsley, and some lemon zest to brighten everything up. The flavor of this stew reminds me a bit of a chicken pot pie — rich and satisfying, with a lighter touch.
The whole cooking process for this recipe takes less than 30 minutes, making this a quick braise that's feasible even on a weeknight. I like serving it with crusty bread to sop up the braising liquid and a bottle of rosé wine if there's time to linger at the dinner table.
Spring Vegetable and Chicken Braise
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
12 ounces small new potatoes, scrubbed
1 bunch radishes with their tops, washed
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. While the pot is heating, pat the chicken very dry with paper towels, and then generously season with salt and pepper.
Place half of the chicken in the pot and sear until golden-brown on the bottom, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove to a large plate and repeat with the remaining chicken (only sear on one side; the chicken will not be cooked through). While the chicken is searing, quarter the potatoes and set aside. Cut the radishes in half and set the leafy tops aside.
After the chicken is seared, reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, stir to combine, and cook out the floury taste, about 1 minute.
Add the broth and 3/4 teaspoon salt and stir with a wooden spoon to fully dissolve the flour in the broth and scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Add the potatoes and radishes (save the tops for later), stir to combine, and bring to a full boil. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices on the plate, nestling the chicken into the vegetables.
Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring every 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter.
Add the radish tops and peas to the pot, stir to combine, and simmer uncovered until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the parsley and lemon zest, and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt as needed. Serve the braised vegetables with the chicken.