Balsamic Braised Chicken

This time of year I yearn for my favorite comfort foods, most of which involve baking or braising. December has provided my kitchen with a flurry of activity incomparable to any other month, and since it’s my favorite room of the house (well, apartment), I am having a grand time of it.

This braised chicken dish is in our winter dinner rotation, and for good reason. The simple ingredient list and short prep time make it easy to throw together in the midst of the holiday frenzy. The pot can simmer away on the stove top while you are baking cookies or wrapping gifts, and it’s terrifically flexible with regard to timing – eat in as soon as thirty minutes or get distracted for a couple hours and either way the chicken will be perfectly cooked.

Oh, and the flavor? Savory, tangy, and sweet all at once. Enjoy!

Balsamic Braised Chicken

6 bone-in chicken thighs
2 medium onions, diced
½ c balsamic vinegar
1 28-oz. can tomatoes (chopped, or I used whole and broke them up with a spoon while cooking)
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Brown the chicken thighs. Generously season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Place a large, heavy-bottomed pot (I use a Dutch oven) on medium-high heat and coat the bottom with olive oil. Once hot, add the chicken (working in batches if necessary so as not to overcrowd the pan) and wait several minutes before turning to brown the other side. Once browned on both sides, remove the chicken from the pot.

2. Prepare the braising liquid. In the same pot, add the onions and a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté until translucent. Turn the heat down to low and add the balsamic, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to incorporate any flavorful bits into the liquid. Add the tomatoes (with juices) and rosemary.

3. Braise the chicken. Return the chicken to the pot, nestling it in the braising liquid. Adjust the heat to just a simmer with the lid on. Cover and braise for as little as 30 minutes, turning the chicken thighs about halfway through; however, you can cook the thighs much longer with great results. I let mine cook for about 1 ½ hours and the meat was juicy and the sauce was delightfully sticky.

Serve with creamy polenta and sautéed greens.

Elizabeth’s Wine Pairing Suggestion:

“Negramaro” Salento Rosso, Valle dell’Asso 2010
A lithe, earthy wine with vibrant acidity pairs well with a tart, rustic dish like balsamic braised chicken. Medium bodied, with milder tannins, the structure on this wine is well-suited to roasted poultry and its dark fruit plays well against balsamic vinegar’s striking acidity and the softened sweetness of this sauce.

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