I’ve taken a few weeks off from The Chicken Thigh Guy. Mostly because I … well to be honest I just needed a break. As much as I love the little buggers, a household diet consisting only of chicken thighs leads to … well, boredom mostly. Eat some steak. Some sausages. Throw some pasta into the mix.
Don’t get me wrong. I still love chicken thighs. They’re still the perfect package. Delicious, unctuous, cheap, and tasty.
But I’m back. And it’s autumn. That’s my favorite season. Yes, that sounds funnier in a Forrest Gump voice, but it really is. Why? Because as much as many of my fellow Americans are in love with grilling, to me – it’s the braise. Slow, low, wet, and go. Braised dishes of almost any variety are my favorites. There’s very little that doesn’t benefit from a long slow cook – and I mean everything. Even beef – think pot roast or jerky. They both rival a good steak. In their own way.
But this is The Chicken Thigh guy. So we’re not making beef jerky. We’re not even making Chicken Jerky (thank whatever entity you want.). Nope, here and now it’s chicken thighs.
AUTUMN CHICKEN THIGHS.
This is the PSL of chicken thighs. The “I can smell the shawl collared sweater” and “that’s a charming pumpkin” of chicken thigh dishes. It’s a little sweet, a little sour, and a lot spicy – but a warm baking spice spicy, not a “could I have a glass of water spicy.”
We’ll simply braise chicken thighs (what else) with cider, apples, garlic, and thyme. Then freshen the whole mess up with a little white pepper and a touch of cider vinegar to make it almost a Yankee sweet and sour.
Serve this with rich mashed potatoes. Sure, there are other matches, but a good rich butter mash is really the way to go.
Cider & Bourbon Braised ChickenCourse: MainDifficulty: Easy
4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
4 cups sweet apple cider
2 cups light chicken stock
1 oz bourbon
½ cup white wine or ½ cup dry hard cider
2 large baking apples
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp fresh minced or microplaned ginger
6 whole cloves
8 whole allspice berries
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground white pepper
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp AP flour plus 2 tbsp cool water.
1 tsp kosher salt
2 sprigs fresh thyme plus more as garnish
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Peel, trim, and mince the garlic.
- Peel, core, and dice the apple (1/4 inch dice) Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt.
- Brown the thighs – skin side down – over medium heat in an oven proof pan, cooking until the thighs are browned and crisp and most of the fat has rendered out.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
- Add the garlic, ginger, and apple to the pan and sauté until the apple begins to soften and the garlic is almost beginning to brown.
- Add the spices and cook 1 minute.
- Add the bourbon and tilt the pan to catch the flame. If you’re using an electric stove, use a lighter to ignite the bourbon.
- Flambe until the alcohol burns off.
- Add the 2 sprigs thyme, chicken stock and the cider and bring to a simmer.
- Transfer the pan into the 350°F oven.
- Cook for 30-45 minutes, or until the chicken is very tender and nearly falling from the bone.
- Remove the pan from the oven and remove the chicken from the pan.
- Place the pan back over medium heat.
- Whisk together the water and flour and incorporate into the simmering liquid.
- Cook until the mixture begins to thicken.
- Add the cider vinegar and white pepper.
- Return the chicken to the pan to warm though.
- Serve with rich fluffy mashed potatoes.