We've had a fairly mild winter this year (yay!), so I haven't really been craving all the wintery comfort foods that I typically do. We've eaten a surprising number of salads and seafood dishes, and overall haven't been eating as many soups, stews, and braises as usual. However, this meal was definitely one that we thoroughly enjoyed (on a 60 degree day in January, at that).
Chicken thighs are braised in a flavorful liquid of red wine, chicken broth, tomatoes, and thyme. Anchovies are also used, and while that may seem like a turn-off, I'd definitely discourage you from omitting them. They give the dish a great depth of flavor. After the chicken is cooked, the swiss chard is cooked in the braising liquid, and a balsamic reduction is added to the sauce just before serving.
I absolutely loved the combination of flavors going on. The tomatoes and balsamic vinegar create such a great sauce for the mild Swiss chard and the tender chicken. It was hearty, comforting, and filling, without being overly rich and heavy. I served this over Parmesan cheese grits, but I think it would also be great with mashed potatoes, polenta, or rice - really anything to soak up the sauce.
Braised Balsamic Chicken with Swiss Chard and Tomatoes
barely adapted from Cook's Illustrated
- 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), trimmed of excess fat and skin
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 large onion , halved and sliced about 1/4 inch thick (about 2 cups)
- 1 Tbs tomato paste
- 3cloves garlic , minced
- 1 tsp anchovy paste
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 Tbs chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 12 oz Swiss chard , washed and dried
- 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Pour off all but 1 teaspoon fat from pot. Add the onion and tomato paste and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally and scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon, until tomato paste begins to darken, about 3-4 minutes (if bottom of pot becomes very dark and sticky, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons water). Add garlic and anchovy and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, chicken broth, and wine, scraping up browned bits with wooden spoon. Add red pepper flakes, thyme, and bay. Remove and discard skin from chicken thighs, then submerge chicken bone-side up in liquid, adding any chicken juices accumulated on plate. Increase heat to high, bring to simmer, cover, then place pot in oven. Cook until chicken offers no resistance when poked with tip of paring knife but meat still clings to bone, 40 to 55 minutes
While chicken cooks, trim stems from Swiss chard. Roughly chop the leaves.
Also while chicken cooks, simmer balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until thick, syrupy, and reduced to 1/3 cup, 3 to 5 minutes (begin measuring volume when vinegar begins to cling to sides of saucepan). Set aside.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to plate and tent with foil; discard bay leaf. Bring liquid in Dutch oven to simmer over medium-high heat. Add chard greens and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir about 1/3 cup sauce into balsamic reduction to loosen, then stir the mixture into the sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to sauce, cook until heated through, about 2 minutes, turning chicken once or twice. Use a slotted spoon to transfer chard to serving dish or individual bowls; place c
chicken thighs on chard, then spoon sauce over. Serve immediately.
Note: I halved this recipe with no problems.