There is nothing worse than dry, flavorless chicken and this Lemon and Sage Braised Chicken is anything but that. Perfectly browned and moist, this chicken dish is bursting with bright lemon, earthy sage, and rich butter flavor.
How to Handle Thighs:
Chicken thigh meat on the bone is really flavorful and very cost-effective, and I can't seem to find a bad way to cook them. I can add flavors from every culture, bake them, fry them, batter them, bread them, cook them slow, or cook them quick, and the list goes on. One of my all time favorite things to do is braise them. Braising is really just a technique where the chicken is cooked in a sauce or braising liquid. Then your dish is covered, and simmered slowly until it becomes fork tender. You can do this with a wide variety of flavors and ultimately it is a very easy technique that I think becomes a very impressive dinner.
Browning Chicken Thighs
One pitfalls of this technique can be browning. Chicken and most meats don't look very attractive or hold flavor very well if they aren't browned before braising. I like to coat my chicken in a lightly seasoned flour and brown both sides very well. The flour will help seal in moisture and what is left in the pan will also help thicken your braising liquid.
To get nice color on your chicken you need to make sure your pan is properly heated. I brown on medium heat in a heavy pan. I turn my pan on while I season and dredge my chicken to give the pan plenty of time to heat up. Lay the chicken in the pan skin side down. You should hear a nice sizzle. That is your pan talking to you. Sizzle says "I'm hot". No sizzle, and you need to wait a few more minutes. Sputter oil means you need to turn your heat down.
The nice thing about chicken skin is that it is naturally very fatty, so you really only need a small drizzle of olive oil. However, because they are so fatty you need to be a bit patient when browning or you risk burning the skin.
Making The Lemon, Sage Butter Braising Liquid
If you master browning, the rest of the recipe is easy. First, remove the browned chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate. This chicken is not fully cooked, and not ready to eat. Then add the butter to the pan. As the butter melts, use a wooden spoon to scrape the bits of chicken up from the bottom of the pan. Then add the garlic, sage, juice of 1 lemon, and ¼ Cup of water. Let it all come to a simmer.
“and then I decided I was a lemon for a couple of weeks.” Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe and Everything
Lemon & Sage Braised Chicken Thighs
- 8 Pieces Chicken Thigh bone-in with skin
- 2 Lemons
- 1 stick of salted butter
- ¼ Cup Water
- 3 Cloves garlic
- 2 Tbsp Fresh Sage
- 1 C. Flour to make a dredge for the chicken
- 3 Tbsp Salt
- 1 Tsp Pepper
- 1 Tsp Paprika
- Preheat your oven to 350°. Then heat a heavy pan on medium heat. I used a caste iron with ceramic than can go in the oven. You can finish this on the stove if you don't have a pan that goes in the oven.
- Make a dredge by mixing flour with spices in a wide bowl.
- Clean the chicken thighs by removing any skin that hangs over the edge or is tucked under the thigh. Kitchen scissors work best.
- Dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour and lay each piece skin side down in your hot pan.
- Patiently wait for you chicken to brown. It takes about 7 minutes on each side. While it is cooking, clean your sage and chop into ribbons. Wash and slice one lemon, and peal and chop garlic.
- Once your chicken is brown on one side, turn and repeat on the under side. (The chicken will not be fully cooked, and must be finished before serving)
- Set brown chicken on a plate and set aside.
- Lower your heat to medium/low or low.
- Add Butter and melt. Use the added liquid to deglaze the pan. (That means using a spoon to scrape up the burnt on bits. This adds great flavor)
- Once butter is melted, add garlic and sage. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into the pan. Add ¼ Cup of water. Then lay half the lemon slices on the bottom of the pan.
- Return the chicken to the pan, and top with the remaining lemons.
- Add water, cover, and place in 350° oven for 1 hr.
- If you do not have an ovenable pan, cover, turn burner down to low, and keep at a very low simmer for 1 hr.