First of all, it’s great to be back, y’all! I needed a break. When I started this blog it was to express my love for cooking, to share some of my family and culture, and to give myself a space to be creative. But after a while it started to feel like an obligation. And I never want it to feel that way. I love food. And cooking. Mostly, I love sharing my cooking and food with you. Stepping away gave me that appreciation again–and some time to come up with new recipes!
I think that one of the hardest parts of leaving my parents’ house is that I no longer cook every day, which I’ve talked about a lot. So, part of what started to feel tedious was finding content to write about–having not cooked for weeks. You can imagine that’s difficult when your blog centers around cooking. Well, again, thank you for the time off. And thanks for coming back! I’m so excited to share my newest recipe today–my braised chicken.
Nights that I do get to cook are Sunday nights because we have Sunday dinners! Last week it was my turn to sponsor a cultural dinner. And I was psyched! Again, when you step away from something–in this case, cooking daily–finally going back to it feels special and new and amazing. I was also excited because I was hella inspired! I’m trying to challenge myself to be more creative in the kitchen–to try new things. This was definitely one of those journeys.
If you follow me on Instagram (and you most definitely should) you saw that I scribbled through an entire recipe that I wrote out. That was this braised chicken recipe! Thing is, I had an idea of what I wanted to do. But when I got in front of stove, everything changed. Sometimes that happens! It’s a beautiful thing when inspiration takes over and creates something unexpected. Like I said, I wanted a creative outlet. This recipe came to fruition from that outlet!
So, anyways, I knew that I wanted to make a braised chicken. Actually, I wanted to make a pot roast, but I don’t currently have the equipment for that. (Woe is me, right?) I even debated getting a dutch oven just to make it! But alas, I bought a braising pot instead, and settled for braised chicken! Why chicken? Because the majority of the people I live with either don’t eat meat or only eat chicken–aka it was the safest choice of meat.
Why braised? Braising is similar to pot roast in that it takes a long time to cook, but there isn’t much active cooking going on. It’s one of those meals that cooks low and slow–on a low temperature for a long time (read: hours). I actually wanted that long process. On days when you make a big meal with many moving parts, it’s sometimes easier to balance all the dishes you make when one of them is already cooking. To be truly efficient, I cooked the chicken first and while it was braising for hours, I prepared all the other parts of the meal. By the time I was done, so was the braised chicken! Ta da! Braising is also similar to pot roast in that they get cooked all in one pan. And who doesn’t love a great one-pot dish??
Anyways, back to the recipe itself. So, before the chicken can bake in the oven, you gotta cook it–and everything else–ahead of time. Start off by preheating the oven to 300 degrees. Then, fry the chicken thighs skin side down first, then the other side too. Frying the chicken gives it that bit of texture before it gets braised in a thick sauce. Remove all the chicken to a plate.
Veggies are next. For the aromatics, I chose fennel. Honestly, I saw the fennel in the grocery store and it made me think of my daddy. I suppose, I grabbed them because I missed him and just decided to make it work. Fennel also adds a bit of citrus to the flavor profile. Add the carrots for taste, texture and color. Add back the chicken and pour over the sauce.
In a small bowl, prepare the sauce, the rest of the dish’s flavor. Mix the Dijon mustard and honey–yes, it will end up tasting a little like honey mustard, but just a bit more tart and savory. Pour it over the chicken and veggies. Then pour in the chicken stock to help coat the rest of the dish. The key to low and slow is that it needs sauce. You need to have a liquid to help cook through the meat and soften the veggies. So cover it good! All that’s left is to bake it low and slow for 2 hours. When it’s done, top it with some parsley and you’re good to chow down!
The dish is savory with a hint of sweetness from the honey sauce. The sauce comes out creamy and thick. The fennel is the perfect complement to the savory quality of the dish, adding just enough citrus to balance things out. It went over so well at Sunday dinner! I paired it with rice and one of my favorite salads ever. For a vegetarian version, I braised some fried potatoes in the same sauce with carrots and fennel. Either way, I’m glad to be back blogging, and I’m glad to be sharing this braised chicken dish! I hope you’re glad too 🙂
What new recipe have you created? I wanna hear all about it!
- 3 lbs chicken thighs
- salt + pepper to taste
- 1-2 bulbs fennel chopped
- 1-2 bunches carrots chopped in thirds
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/8 cup Dijon mustard
- 1 box chicken stock may not need the whole box
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
- 1-2 tsp parsley (optional) minced
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Heat the oil in a braising pan or cast-iron skillet on high. Fry the chicken skin side down until slightly crispy--about 4-5 minutes. Flip over and fry the other side lightly--another 3-4 minutes. Remove to plate.
De-glaze the pan with the chicken stock. Add a little more oil and lower the heat to medium-high. Saute the fennel until soft and fragrant--about 3-4 minutes. Add the carrots and saute until lightly charred--about 4 minutes. Add the chicken.
In a small bowl, mix the Dijon mustard and honey together. Pour sauce over the chicken and veggies. Mix to coat. Add enough chicken stock to cover everything and mix again. Bring to a boil.
Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Place in the oven and bake for 2 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through. Once finished, top with parsley and serve with rice!