There are perhaps two universal truths that all of us (non-vegetarian) writers at The Kitchn share: a mutual love for flavorful, inexpensive chicken thighs and for rich, hearty braises. When the first is paired with the second, their powers know no bounds. And a braise might sound like more of a cold-weather meal, I really love the savory combination all year round — plus it's an easy one-pot dinner for weeknights. Here I added a plethora of bright bell peppers and sweet red onions to help shout "summer braise" from the rooftops.
What I love most about a braise is that it's so forgiving. In fact, once you've mastered the technique, you will never need to use a recipe again. Brown the meat, sauté some vegetables, deglaze the pan, and simmer — that really is all you need to know!
For a long time, I would break down a chicken into its various parts whenever I made a braise, but then I fell in love with chicken thighs and have never looked back. Whatever you want to use — thighs, breasts, wings, or drumsticks — the decision is up to you. And when it comes to vegetables, anything you have on hand should work. I am addicted to bell peppers and put them in anything I can, but summer corn, zucchini, tomatoes, and green beans would all taste great once they start showing up in markets.
I used chicken stock (because I always use chicken stock) but a good vegetable broth or even water would do in a pinch. White wine vinegar is my go to for deglazing the pan because I love the extra punch it gives, but regular white wine or any mild vinegar would do. Once the chicken braises, the last step is to reduce, reduce, reduce. This final step really concentrates the flavors of the sauce, making it perfect for drizzling over chicken and dousing over rice. It's addictive!
There is nothing revolutionary about this easy, breezy braise. It's just good, classic comfort food. And comfort food, as well all know, is always in season.
Braised Chicken Thighs with Bell Peppers and Onions
Serves 4 to 6
6 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Wondra or all-purpose flour, for dredging
Neutral cooking oil (such as canola, peanut, or safflower)
3 bell peppers, cored and cut into 1/4-inch strips (assorted colors)
1 large red onion, cut into 1/4-inch strips
3 - 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, divided
2 cups chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cooked white rice, to serve
Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Dust the tops with a light coating of flour and season with salt and pepper.
In a large braising dish or Dutch oven, heat a few glugs of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering and hot. Working in two batches, add the chicken—seasoned side down—and sear until golden, about 3 - 4 minutes. Before flipping, dust the other sides with flour and season with additional salt and pepper. Flip and continue searing. Remove to another plate and set aside.
Lower the heat to medium and add another tablespoon of oil if needed. Add the peppers, onions, garlic, and Dijon to the pan and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Increase the heat to high. Pour in 1/4 cup vinegar and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any brown bits that have formed. Add the seared chicken and the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until chicken can easily be pulled apart with a fork, 30 - 35 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to another plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Add the remaining tablespoon vinegar to the cooking liquid. (If you love vinegar, add two.) Increase the heat to high and cook at a rapid boil until the sauce is thickened and reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Nestle the chicken back in the pan and cook until heated through. Serve with cooked white rice.
(Images: Nealey Dozier)