Bistro Braised Chicken

Bistro Braised Chicken by Brittany's PantryI would be remiss this week if I didn’t share this recipe, as it has become a favorite in our house this winter.

In the last several months, while dealing with a particularly snowy winter here in central IL, I have been gravitating toward comfort food.  I know I am not alone in this.  I see the evidence on Pinterest…. With the snow and the ice and the vortexes and power outages and wind…sheesh!  The commercials announcing spring sales and showing parades of pastel colored Easter dresses for little girls in white patent leather shoes seems to only succeed in driving home the point that it is still really, really, cold outside.

Despite this, the asparagus keeps showing up on covers of the March issues of food magazines.  Berries from Florida are shipped to us up here in the frozen corn fields.  And the promising color of spring radishes makes my heart beat a little faster and fills me with hope.  Even though I desperately long for those sights, smells, and flavors, there is no denying the need for something warm and cozy when just zipping out to get the mail chills you to the bone.  We still have to eat every day and when those days are filled with chopping the ice from your frozen car doors, you start to wish that you could microwave that cold spinach salad you had planned for lunch.

Fear not.  Even though this recipe contains pasta and meat and sauce, is is a much lighter than a pot pie or chicken and dumplings.  It isn’t heavy but it definitely warms you through and through.  The simple ingredients and easy process make it completely doable on a weekday.  It is just as spectacular as leftovers so be sure to tuck a serving or two away to take to work with you.  You will thank me when you are trying to thaw out after your morning commute.Bistro Braised Chicken by Brittany's PantryBistro Braised Chicken by Brittany's Pantry One Year Ago: How To: Roast Garlic & Roasted Garlic Sandwich Spread
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Bistro Braised Chicken
Adapted from Cooking Light
Braising is a cooking method that generally involves searing meat over high heat, adding liquid, then continuing to cook over gentle heat on the stove or in the oven until done.  Chicken thighs are perfect for this method and add a tremendous amount of flavor to this dish without drying out like white meat would.  Skinless makes it so much healthier and boneless allows it to cook faster while just being that much easier to eat.  Dried plums can be used instead of apricots as well.

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
2 T butter
2 T olive or grape seed oil
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into coins
2 stalks of celery, trimmed and diced
1 small onion, diced small
3 c chicken broth/stock, store-bought or homemade
1 T dijon mustard
1/2 tsp dried (rubbed) sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
15 dried apricots (optional)
1 T cornstarch + 1 1/2 T water
1/2 lb wide egg noodles, cooked according to package directions
chopped parsley for garnish
crusty french bread for dipping

In a large dutch oven, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium to medium high heat.  Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.  Brown the meat well, 3 minutes on each side, cooking it in two batches if necessary so as not to crowd the pan.  You want plenty of air to circulate between the pieces so that the meat sears but doesn’t steam.  Remove the pieces to a plate and set aside.  The chicken won’t be cooked through at this point.  Don’t worry.  Add the vegetables to the pan drippings and toss well to coat.  Let the veggies lightly sauté without frying until just starting to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the dried apricots, if using, and season with the thyme, sage, and salt and pepper.  Mix and let cook for another minute.  Add the mustard and stir.  Add the chicken broth slowly, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom.  Return the chicken to the pot along with any juices collected on the plate, snuggling the pieces down into the sauce.  Cover, let come to bubble, then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer.  Let cook for 5 minutes, uncover, and let cook for 10 minutes more or until the chicken is cooked through and sauce is slightly reduced.  Mix together the corn starch and water until dissolved and stir into the sauce.  This should thicken the broth just a bit.  Let everything cook together another minute or so.  Spoon over noodles and sprinkle with parsley.  Serve with crusty bread to soak up any leftover sauce!
Note:  This dish is great to make a day ahead.  Cook the recipe just as directed.  Cool and chill over night.  Warm gently over low heat on the stove, then garnish and serve with noodles.