There is nothing worse than dry, flavorless chicken and this Lemon and Sage Braised Chicken is anything but that. Boneless skinless breasts are useful, easy to cook, and I guess they are healthy or something, but the number of ways to fix them and have them be really appetizing is sort of limited. I was always convinced to try and use breasts because the cost suggests that they are a high quality meat, but I learned that you are really paying for the waste and labor. On the other hand thigh meat and bone in meat is really much more flavorful and much more 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 covered 2/3rds of the way up in a flavorful liquid, 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.
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 before adding any liquid, and I use my pan drippings to flavor the braising liquid. The nice thing about chicken skin is that it is naturally very fatty, so you really don’t need to add any oil to brown your thigh pieces.However, because they are so fatty you need to be a little bit patient when browning or you risk burning the skin or if you go to slow you don’t get a cook crisp and the skin can become a little rubbery. It works best if you have a nice heavy pan to work with. Then, make sure you heat the pan thoroughly on medium heat. It is important to get a little sizzle when you lay the chicken skin side down. Then be patient, and let the color build as the fats render, and the skin crisps up. Do the same to the bottom of the chicken.
If you master browning, the rest of the recipe is easy. You will set the chicken aside, make a little sauce my adding your ingredients to the pan, return the chicken, cover, and leave it alone.
“and then I decided I was a lemon for a couple of weeks.” Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe and Everything