No. 277: Braised Lemon Chicken Thighs & Brussels Sprouts

Another week, another Snowmageddon.

North Carolina is really getting hit this winter. Asheville is out of snow days as is most of the 'Upstate' region.

Then again, it's not really that terrible. The big, bad storm dropped 3 inches of snow last night and not the 10 that was originally predicted. And it does make for a beautiful photo of our new digs.

New digs

The pups and I went out a few hours later and built a snowman with the neighborhood kiddos. I love this place:)

Braised Lemon Chicken Thighs & Brussels Sprouts

With all this wintry weather I've been stocking up on warm, comforting meals. This lemon chicken all in a pot sounded like a great fix for a cold evening.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6
8 chicken thighs*
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon canola or grapeseed oil
1 clove garlic, peeled roughly chopped
1 shallot, peeled, roughly chopped
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups quality or homemade chicken stock
1 lemon, quartered
12 sprigs fresh thyme*

*We used boneless, skinless thighs. Also, I couldn't get fresh thyme at our local store (what!?) so I went with dried instead.

To make

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Evenly sprinkle salt and pepper over thighs. In a large braising pot with a lid, heat oil on high heat. Place 4 chicken thighs skin down in the pot and sear until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and sear on the other side until browned. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining thighs.

Thighs

Reduce heat to medium. After allowing the oil to cool slightly, about a 2 minutes, add the garlic, shallots, and Brussels sprouts. Cook for 3 minutes until the Brussels sprouts are bright green.

Veggies

Add lemon juice and chicken stock. Return the thighs and all their juices to the pot with the sprouts and add lemon slices and thyme.

Ready for oven

(Sorry it's a little blurry!)

Cover, transfer to the oven, and braise for 1 hour. When done, plate chicken thighs and Brussels sprouts over rice, couscous or pasta (or skip those elements like the low-carb McCs tend to do). Serve with a drizzle of the lemony braising liquid that remains.

Optional: To enhance the flavor and to make a "sauce" with the braising juices, remove the thighs and Brussels sprouts and strain the cooking liquid. Return the "jus" to the braising pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until reduce by half until thickened slightly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and stir to combine. Spoon over chicken thighs.

The results

When I first put the pot in the oven I was dubious. It seemed like a lot of liquid. I was worried about soggy sprouts and boiled chicken.

Turns out I was half right. There is good and bad news about this recipe.

Final plate

The good news is that the chicken comes out moist, delectable and pulls apart in the most delightful way. The braising liquid also turns into a thick and flavorful sauce; with some thickening it is bound to be awesome.

The bad news is that the sprouts lose some of their luster. They have a great lemony appeal, but they are a little too soft and boiled for my taste.

I prefer them cooked this way, fast in a pan with just enough lemon and olive oil to bring out their best, sweet notes.

So take the chicken, shallot, lemon juice elements of this dish and leave the sprouts for a separate pan. You'll love the end result!

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