My mother used to serve us a dish she simply called “Greek Stew” – a tomato rich braised beef with a touch of ground cinnamon. Like Cincinnati’s “greek chili” the dish she served us’s origins may or may not actually be Greek. It was essentially Kapama, a slow cooked preparation of tomatoes, onions, and cinnamon that exists in some form in several the cuisines of the norther Mediterranean.
Later, when I was living in DC, one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants (now a small local chain and a national spinoff of casual places) served it ladled over olive oil crisped fries and topped with cheese for a fun take on poutine. They also had a half price wine night – which made that already delicious dish even more appealing
Regardless of its origin, or how you serve it Kapama is a wonderful, warm, rich dish that’s easy to throw together and simply let simmer or braise and that tastes much more complex than it’s simple components. Some recipes call for beef, lamb, or pork. Other’s for a whole chicken broken down. Because they’re so flexible – and because this website is in fact dedicated to chicken thighs – here we’ll use bone in thighs. The combination of rich dark meat and high collagen content yield a luscious sauce and tender meat.
As with many recipes on this site, I find I get the best results with an open oven braise – but if you’re reading this in the heat of summer and don’t want to fire the oven, a long simmer stove top or even a quick run in a pressure cooker will give you great results.
I use pieces of whole cinnamon stick/bark in this recipe – not powder. Not all cinnamon is created equal. The two most common Cinnamon varieties are cassia cinnamon – the thick sticks you’re used to seeing garnishing holiday drinks (and the most common used as powdered cinnamon in the US) and Ceylon Cinnamon – which has many thin brittle layers. I tend to use Ceylon cinnamon in this dish as the flavor is less “spicy” and more gentle – and because I get the sticks in bulk from our local Asian grocery.
Chicken Thigh KapamaCourse: MainCuisine: Greek, Mediterranean, American
Tender chicken braised with tomatoes and cinnamon.
4 bone in skin on chicken thighs
1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
½ cup dry red wine
1 medium onion
1 4 inch piece of Ceylon cinnamon
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Peel, trim, and dice the onion.
- Peel, trim, and finely mince the garlic.
- Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and season the pieces well on both sides with kosher salt.
- In an oven proof pan, brown the chicken over medium heat with the skin side down.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and drain all but 1 tbsp of the rendered oil.
- Add the onions and cook until translucent but not browned – about 3 minutes over medium heat.
- Add the garlic, bay leaf, and oregano and cook for 1 minutes.
- Add the red wine, chicken stock and crushed tomatoes.
- Break the cinnamon into small pieces and mix into the liquid.
- Arrange the chicken in the pan, spoon some liquid over the top, and return to a simmer.
- Transfer the pan into the oven and cook until the chicken is nearly falling off the bone – about 45 minutes.
- Serve with rice, pasta, or as a stew with some good pita or crusty bread.