Let me give a shout out to Chef Adam Kreisel. He is a master at braising and taught a great class at Orson Gygi. Braising is a “low & slow” cooking process with the layering of flavors.
Northern-Italian-Style Braised Chicken Thighs
1 tablespoon cooking grade extra virgin olive oil
6 good-quality natural chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
1 large white or yellow onion, small diced
4 cloves fresh garlic, sliced thin
6 good quality cured anchovies in oil
3 good sized carrots, peeled and cut small dice
2 whole ribs of celery, rinsed and cut small dice
2 sprigs fresh thyme or summer savory, leaves picked and stems discarded
2 fresh bay leaves, slightly hand torn but still whole
1 cup Marsala wine
1 medium can (28 ounces) whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes in juice, juice and tomatoes separated and both reserved
1 quart good quality chicken stock
2 tablespoons capers, non-pareil, with brine, split
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat an oven to 275 degrees. Season the chicken thighs nicely with salt and pepper and allow to rest/temp-up on the counter for 15-20 minutes. You may remove the skin from the chicken thighs but it adds flavor & moisture by leaving it on.
While the chicken is resting, gather and chop the rest of the ingredients. Place an enamel-coated cast-iron braiser on medium-high heat. When hot, add the oil and quickly spread it around the bottom of the braiser. Sear the chicken thighs on both sides until they are nicely golden brown. Remove the thighs from the pan and set aside. Add the onion, garlic and anchovies and sweat them in the oil until they are soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, thyme, and bay leaves and sweat briefly with the onion mixture, 2 minutes. Add the Marsala wine and allow it to reduce by half. Add the chicken thighs back to the pot, skin side up, and add the reserved tomato juice, chicken stock, and 1 tablespoon of capers. Bring the entire mixture to a simmer and taste the liquid. Adjust the seasoning as necessary so that the broth is flavorful, but not salty.
Turn off heat, cover your vessel tightly with a heavy lid and place it in the oven to braise for approximately 2 hours.
When finished, remove the chicken from the oven and allow to sit on the stove top with the lid slightly ajar for 20 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of capers, as well as the reserved San Marzano tomatoes. Crush the whole tomatoes by hand while adding them to the dish and stir gently into the mix.
Allow dish to cool. Serve over rice, polenta or pasta.
We served this over rice and it was very delicious. My daughter had multiple servings. The layering of the flavors, the freshness of the ingredients all make this a wonderful entree. If you don’t like anchovies, do not worry. You will not be able to taste them; it adds an “earthiness/background” to the dish. I am very excited to make this dish again soon.