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 1/4 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