|Beer Braised Chicken Thighs|
I can almost see you rolling your eyes now. Another braised chicken dish? Shouldn't you be gearing up for grilling season? Aren't you bored with braising yet?
But wait! Don't leave yet...
It's no secret that I prepare a lot of skin-on bone-in chicken thighs. They're cheap; they're pretty versatile; and they're the perfect portion size for my soon-to-be kindergartner. However, lately I've been stuck in a rut so recently I went online and looked for some inspiration. I found it in a Rachael Ray recipe on fooodnetwork.com, however I was not inspired how you might expect.
I can see the appeal of Ms. Ray. Her dishes have approachable preparation methods for the home cook and she has the charisma to be relatable to a wide audience, but I believe that her lack of formal culinary training was exposed in this dish. I, too, have no formal training but I do have a lot of experience braising chicken and, hopefully, have applied it to produce a technically superior (which should result in a tastier) dish. I kept the ingredient amounts the same so instead of reviewing the method, please refer to the above link to note the changes I've made below.
1. I omitted scallions and hot sauce. It's a personal preference but I'm not a huge fan of spicy foods, but I enjoy milder spices to balance other sweet, salty and/or savory flavors in the dish. I also decided to garnish my dish differently. I also substituted a red bell pepper for a green one because I had a red one in my refrigerator.
2. One of the most creative ways I've seen to use bacon I profiled when I first prepared the coq au vin dish. Namely, rendering bacon pieces, removing them, then using the bacon grease to sauté the chicken. By doing this, the flavors of the bacon will infuse into the chicken. Chicken thighs also have a considerable amount of fat underneath their skin that can be rendered when seared which will assist with the mirepoix. Speaking of...
3. I used a full mirepoix, adding carrots to the onion, bell pepper and celery. I also seasoned the mirepoix with kosher salt and instead of sweating it, browned it to create some fond. I also decided to use a thyme bundle instead of chopping it. Lastly, I waited to add the garlic to an already browned mirepoix because burnt garlic has a bitter taste.
4. The instructions are inadequate, in that Ms. Ray doesn't specify how long to simmer the chicken but based upon past experience, I recommend 30 minutes over low to medium-low heat to ensure the highs are fully cooked through. I also omitted the flour because I've found thst reducing the braising fluid is more effective way to thicken the sauce because it concentrates the flavors.
I believe so, but if you don't believe me, Mrs. Stuntman noted as she was eating, "I don't know what you did, but this dish tastes good!" However I have one final criticism of this dish because I feel it was improperly named. Yes, beer was in the braising fluid but the strongest flavor in the sauce was the tomatoes.