Thursday, August 19, 2010

Braised Chicken Thighs -- No flabby skin!

I can't post the recipe because it was in Cook's Illustrated (June 2010, Vol. 104, Pg. 18) but I can tell you about the method. Braising chicken always has the issue of flabby, floppy skin.  I adore chicken skin, but I don't like it to be flabby.  I prefer it crisp, although unless you reheat it in the oven, it won't be for the left-overs.  However, if you do everything right, it also won't be flabby or floppy.

The recipe I used has you put eight thighs in an oven proof skillet.  On medium-high heat you brown the skin side for 5-8 minutes, until... duh... brown!  Then you flip them and brown the other side for about 5 minutes.

Remove the thighs and drain off most of the rendered fat, reserving about 2 tablespoons. Put your braising liquid in the skillet.  The recipe had about 3 cups of liquid for a 12" pan that was cooked down a bit.  Put your thighs in the pan, skin side up.  Then put the pan in the oven at 325 degrees for about 1 hour 15 minutes.  The meat should not be so over cooked it falls off the bone.

If the liquid is bubbling to vigorously then lower the heat until it is barely bubbling.

I stored the resulting thighs separately from their braising liquid so they wouldn't get mushy in the fridge.  But I reheat them together.

The CI recipe was pretty complicated but I think it this technique could work nicely for other braised chicken applications.

Oh yes, be sure to use thighs with the skin!  Thighs stay moister than breasts and they're the right thickness for this treatment.  And of course you want to skin because it's so delicious and it keeps the thighs moist on top.

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