Recipe A Day #17: Citrus Braised Chicken and Root Vegetables

Today's recipe is a humble, easy and hearty dinner that serves four to five very well.

Citrus Braised Chicken and Root Vegetables

5-6 whole bone-in chicken thighs
salt, pepper and cayenne pepper for seasoning chicken
olive oil
1-2 onions
2-3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon ground sage
½ teaspoon dried or fresh rosemary
1 small handful of frozen cranberries, dried cranberries, currants or raisins (optional)
1 small sweet potato, peeled, cut into medium cubes
1-2 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into medium cubes
2 carrots, peeled, cut into 2-3 inch chunks
1-2 stalks celery, chopped coarsely
3 cups stock (or 3 cups water and 1 bouillon cube)
2 teaspoons orange zest
about 3-4 Tablespoons orange juice
1 Tablespoon lemon juice, to taste

1) Season chicken thighs on both sides with salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. In a large, deep skillet, fry chicken in olive oil on medium-high heat, about 6-7 minutes per side, until nicely browned and nearly cooked through. Set chicken aside.

2) Saute onions in chicken drippings on medium-high for 2 minutes (optional: if you wish, you can remove perhaps half of the chicken fat first). Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and spices (thyme, sage and rosemary). Saute for another 5 minutes or so. Add optional cranberries (or currants or raisins) and about ½ cup of the stock/bouillon. Deglaze by scraping up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.

3) Add potatoes, carrots, celery, the remainder of the stock, the orange zest, and about 2 Tablespoons of the orange juice. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.

4) Add cubed sweet potato to the pan, then add the chicken thighs back to the pan, nestling them in among the vegetables. Bring to a boil again and simmer for another 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is done to your liking. Finally, add remaining two Tablespoons of orange juice and 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, shaking pan back and forth to combine everything well.

5) Serve over rice, ladling a generous amount of sauce and extra vegetables over each chicken thigh.

Serves 4-5.
Recipe Notes:
1) Once again, on leaving the fat in or taking it out: You can choose either, but we leave it in, taking advantage of the richness and increased satiety factor of fat-based calories.

2) On adding the sweet potato in step 4: Note that the sweet potato gets held back--it isn't added to the pot with the potatoes, carrots and celery. This is just to make sure it doesn't cook down to mush during the remaining time of the braise.

3) An unexpected surprise: This recipe has a rare and highly prized characteristic: it tastes even better the next day. Which means this can be a make-ahead recipe that gives you even more flexibility and options for dinner and menu planning. See other "tastes better the next day" recipes here at CK, like our Chicken Mole, Pasta Puttanesca, or Easy Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Stew.

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