The occasional problem with braised chicken dishes is that now matter how flavorful and dynamic the ingredients you start with are, over the cooking process they can end up muted and tame. That is definitely not the case with this Daniel Boulud recipe in Chef, Interrupted. Boulud, of course, knows a few things about braising, and here he pairs the chicken with a handful of ingredients that seem to only get more intense over time, making for a dish that is spicy and acidic—two things I love.
It's all about the color red. Paprika is actually used twice, first as a component in the Spanish chorizo and then in powdered form with the sweet paprika. Red bell peppers and red onions add some sweetness, while a heap of crushed red pepper flakes lend a spicy kick. Continuing with the Spanish theme, the acidity comes from dry sherry.
The original recipe calls for only chicken thighs, but I used both thighs and breasts. Because breasts don't take as long to cook, I added the breasts halfway through the braising process, and they came out juicy and tender.
Adapted from Melissa Clark's Chef, Interrupted
- 4 ounces Spanish chorizo, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 3 pounds chicken thighs and breasts
- Salt and pepper
- 2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch thick strips
- 2 small red onions, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3/4 cup dry sherry
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (or diced plum tomatoes)
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Handful fresh basil, thinly sliced, for garnish
Adjust the oven rack to the bottom-third position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, set a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat and add the chorizo. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chorizo has rendered some fat and is starting to brown. Remove chorizo with a slotted spoon and drain on some paper towels.
Season the thighs and breasts with salt and pepper on both sides. Add the chicken pieces to the skillet and brown on both sides, about ten minutes total. Remove the chicken pieces and set aside.
Remove all but two tablespoons of fat in the skillet. Add the bell peppers, onions, garlic, and thyme. Season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about five minutes. Add the sherry, tomatoes, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Stir well to dislodge any browned bits and simmer for one minute.
Nestle the thighs in the skillet (you'll add the breasts later) and add the cooked chorizo. Cover the skillet and place in the oven. Cook for 15 minutes, and then remove the skillet, flip the thighs, and add the breast pieces. Cover again and return to the oven. Cook until the chicken pieces are completely cooked, ten to fifteen minutes. If needed, season with more salt and pepper. Garnish with basil. Serve.