TasteFood by Lynda Balslev

Quick-Braised Chicken Thighs Yield Slow-Cooked Flavor

Craving comfort? These braised thighs will do the trick.

Braising chicken thighs is an easy way to get a warming, flavorful meal without the time involved to slow-cook stew meat. Dark chicken meat is inherently flavorful -- and forgiving -- and happy to mingle with stock, tomatoes and a smudge of spices without compromising the meat’s flavor or drying out.

The Moroccan-inspired spice paste in this recipe is crucial to the flavor of the chicken, which is braised in a sweet and spicy slick of onions and tomato. While you can easily prepare this meal in one hour, you can also take the time to let the chicken marinate for several hours or even overnight. It's worth it.

Braised Moroccan Chicken Thighs With Tomatoes and Ginger

Active Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, plus optional marinating time

Yield: Serves: 4 to 6

Paste:

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 bone-in chicken thighs with skin

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced

2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger

1 (28-ounce) can crushed Italian plum tomatoes

1 cup chicken stock

1 (6-inch) cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon honey or light brown sugar

2 teaspoons harissa paste (or red chili sauce, such as Sambal Oelek)

1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Chopped fresh Italian parsley or cilantro for garnish

In a small bowl, combine the paste ingredients. Rub the paste all over the chicken and between the skin and flesh. (The chicken can marinate for up to 24 hours. If not proceeding with cooking, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before proceeding.)

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. In batches, arrange the chicken, skin side down, in the pan without overcrowding. Brown the skin and then flip the chicken and briefly cook until the meat takes on color, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the skillet (if the skillet is dry, add 1 tablespoon olive oil). Add the onion and saute until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the ginger and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, cinnamon stick, honey or brown sugar, harissa, salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes, and then taste for seasoning.

Return the chicken to the pan and nestle into the sauce, skin side up, without submerging the skin. Transfer to the oven and bake, uncovered, until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 30 minutes. (A meat thermometer will register 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part near the bone.)

Serve garnished with fresh parsley or cilantro.

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