These Braised Chicken Thighs Are the Comforting Spring Meal You Need
May is a weird month, weather-wise. While you might be expecting significantly warmer, sunnier days in anticipation of summer, more often than not, it’s lukewarm and rainy. Luckily, Colu Henry has the perfect F&W Cooks recipe to tide you over—brothy braised chicken thighs with fennel and Pernod. After months of braised meats and baked pastas during winter, Henry says this dish comforting, but not heavy. (Made all the better by pairing with a bright Italian white wine.) There’s crispy chicken, plenty of herbs, leeks, fennel—find out some of Henry’s key tips for making the dish below, and keep the recipe in your back pocket for the next rainy day.
Shoot for room temperature
Henry says to take the meat out 30 minutes in advance so it comes to room temperature. This encourages even cooking. And while you’re at it, add a little bit of salt when you take it out of the fridge—it will help tenderize the chicken and add flavor.
Put the chicken in skin-side down…
When placing the chicken in the skillet, make sure you add the thighs skin-side down. That way, the fat will render out, creating a “beautiful, golden, and crispy skin.”
And then leave it be
You’ll be tempted to move the chicken thighs around, but if you want that crispy skin, you need to leave them alone. Cook them undisturbed for 3-4 minutes on each side—they don’t need to be fully cooked, as they’ll braise once you add the liquid.
Don’t leave the pan on
After the chicken thighs cook and are transferred to a plate, Henry starts prepping her vegetables. She says it’s key to turn the heat off under the pan in between, so the leftover oil and fat don’t smoke.
Add the garlic in later
Henry turns the pan back on and adds the leeks and fennel, allowing them to soften. Then add in the thinly sliced garlic cloves—you don’t want them to burn.
Pernod and fennel are friends
Fennel has a licorice flavor, so she chooses to add Pernod, a French liqueur that is distilled with anise, fennel, coriander, chamomile, and “other delicious botanical-sounding things.”
You want the skin to brown
Once the chicken and chicken stock are added in, let it simmer partially covered for 25 minutes. When Henry takes it off and gets ready to eat, the skin is brown and the vegetables have melted down.
Pour an Italian white
Henry says she pairs the chicken with an Italian white wine—bright and lively, but not overly acidic so it won’t compete with dish.
Find the full recipe here.