Ok, you got me. These aren’t my sexy thighs. They belong to Iron Chef Michael Symon. I bet now you are wondering what I am doing around such a reputable chef’s thighs. Let me take a second to say that your thought process, and the perverted leaps you take when you read about my food, haunts me at night. This is a recipe from his book Carnivore. Yes, every single recipe in that book is meat. I highly recommend it as a gift for any vegan friends you may have.
Chicken has never been in my top 5 of meats to consume but hey, it’s healthy and versatile and if I had to choose a favorite cut from the chicken it would definitely be the thigh. Darker than breast meat and juicier, I find it provides a dish with more flavor and it works better in stew-like dishes like this one. Besides, 4 thighs, which easily feeds 4 people, ran me just over 5$. Can’t complain about that price and in the endless Montreal winter a bowl of this stuff will just warm your cockles. Whatever the hell cockles are.
Braised Chicken Thighs with Kale
4 to 6 Chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Red onions thinly sliced
2 Large carrots diced
1/2 Green bell pepper diced(Symon says use a jalepeno but I have kids who don’t eat spicy so I don’t do everything Symon says)
4 Cloves of garlic(sliced)
1.5 Cups of dry white wine
12 Ounces crushed tomatoes
2 Bay leaves
1 Bunch of kale roughly chopped
1/2 Cup breadcrumbs
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 Cup chopped Italian/flat leaf parsley
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
As you’ve heard me say a million times before I like to get all my prep work done in advance so the first thing I do here is slice, dice and chop all the things that need it. Except of course for the garlic. It has precisely 1748 useful health benefits and if you cut it more than 15 minutes before you will be cooking it you will lose exactly 1586 of those. You can’t just make this stuff up people. You think I just pulled those numbers out of my ass? I’ll have you know that 47.43% of all stastistics are made up. So maybe you are right but anyway you do lose a ton of the health benefits from it if you cut it up too soon. You’ll note that I said to roughly chop the kale. I mean really rough people. I like to insult it too. Mock it. Really break it down until it is a shell of its former self curled in the fetal position on my counter just begging for me to get it over with and cook it already.
Symon says if you’ve got the time you can salt the chicken the night before and refrigerate it. Seeing as I picked this recipe the same afternoon I would be making it I did not do this step. So, now I take the breadcrumbs, parsley, lemon zest and extra virgin olive oil and combine in a bowl and set this aside. Go ahead and preheat the oven to 375f.
Heat up the two tablespoons of the de-virginized olive oil on medium heat in a dutch oven. Place the chicken in there skin side down and cook it until it is brown. Flip it over and cook it for a few more minutes and set aside on a plate. Do not freak out if there are bits of brown skin stuck to the bottom, it is all part of the master plan. Now throw in the onions with a good sprinkling of salt. Cook them for about 2 minutes until they start to soften. Then add the carrots, pepper, and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
Add the wine to the veggies and scrape the bottom of the dutch oven with sorrow and remorse using a wooden spoon to loosen that fantastically flavored brown skin stuff that was previously stuck and had you panicking needlessly and calling this recipe dumb. Seriously, chill out a little bit. Let this sexy concoction cook for about 5 minutes and then add the crushed tomato and bay leaves. I now command you to bring it to a simmer. What? I didn’t say Symon says? Fine. Symon says to bring it to a simmer. Sheesh.
Season the dish at this point and give it a taste to make sure everything is coming along nicely. Add the abused and broken kale and cover it with the lid and let it cook down for about 5 minutes. You might be thinking something like “holy hell that is a crap ton of kale and it barely fits into this pot!” Have no fears, much like spinach and chard, as it cooks it quickly reduces in size. It’s a bit like swimming in a pool, am I right guys? Ok the 5 minutes are up so give it all a good stir and add the chicken on top of the veg. I didn’t actually type that you need to remove the lid to stir it. Let’s just say I have faith in you that you knew that already. Now put the lid back on and let it cook in the oven for about 25 minutes(Symon says 20 but mine needed a bit more time).
As an admitted tweaker I cannot seem to ever get through a recipe without changing at least one thing up. What the recipe calls for is to now simply top the chicken with the breadcrumb mixture and serve. But what’s the fun in that? I added the breadcrumbs on top and placed the pot back in the oven WITHOUT the lid for another 10 minutes. Does anybody got a problem with that?
Bay leaves are not fun to eat. They are great for balancing a dish and are a highly underrated herb but really gross to eat. So you can try to remove them before serving but where I am from there is a tradition that whomever gets a bay leaf on their plate has to kiss the person to their left. So what I like to do is make sure that the hottest person sits to my right and serve them all the bay leaves. Sometimes I will even add extra ones that weren’t in the dish. Then I wait for the kisses to roll in. It is the law.
Baking the dish that bit of extra time with the breadcrumbs gave it a nice crunch. The lemon zest adds some great zazziness to it too. Gotta love the lemon zest. I served it with some pasta because kids will eat almost anything if it is on noodles. I know what you are thinking. For a dude who claims to find chicken boring you sure do eat it alot. Don’t judge me. This dish was great. Give it a shot. Symon says.