With these braised chicken thighs recipes, you’ll find comfort food meal ideas that the whole family will love. Who says braising chicken thighs is difficult? Braising is simply and gently cooking a cheaper cut of meat in a liquid until it transforms into a tender, fall off the bone masterpiece.
A good cook knows that fat means flavor. Simply put, chicken thighs have more fat than chicken breasts which makes them a perfect candidate for a long slow simmer in your favorite flavored liquid.
Braising chicken thighs are cheaper than breasts and nearly impossible to over-cook them. They are extremely forgiving when it comes to cook times, making them the perfect recipe for even a beginner cook.
Below you’ll find a line-up of braised chicken thighs recipes to add to your meal plan rotation. There’s something for everyone, from traditional to exotic, recipes that the whole family will love.
So How Do You Braise?
How do you braise? It’s simple. Braising is a two step process where, in this case, bone in, skin on chicken is first seared crispy in a neutral oil and then simmered in a flavorful liquid such as broth or wine.
Braising means to partially cover the meat with cooking liquid. If you cover the meat entirely, you’re stewing not braising.
Once the meat is seared, the low and slow cooking process is pretty much hands off, filling your kitchen with an intoxicating aroma that will find you craving dinner all afternoon.
Some of the most commonly braised meat recipes you’ll find will include cuts of meat like chicken thighs, chicken legs, pork shoulder roast (Boston Butt), like used for this Carne Adovada. Beef short ribs and lamb shoulder and also commonly braised.
The end result is super tender, flavorful meat with a very desirable crispy crust. Sounds perfect doesn’t it? It is.
Let’s Talk Pans
Braised chicken thighs recipes are some of the most rewarding and easier meals you can prepare. There’s no need to be intimidated by braising, after all, one of America’s best known is old fashioned Sunday Pot Roast.
And more than likely you have all the equipment you need. A heavy pot such as a Dutch oven or cast iron skillet will work beautifully. And even your slow-cooker works like a charm.
The secret is to get a good sear on the meat before seasoning, saucing and cooking.
When it comes to chicken, thighs are always a great choice. That dark meat is super flavorful and super tender once braised. It’s the best part of the chicken in my humble opinion.
What Pan Is Best For Braising?
The key to a successful braised chicken thighs recipe is to make sure you have a good quality skillet that is a champion at conducting even heat. Such as a cast iron skillet or a French steel pan. You can also use a good quality Dutch Oven to make to make Dutch oven chicken thighs for a one pan chicken recipe.
All are great choices because they’re suited to go from stove-top to oven without missing a beat. Braised chicken can be finished stove-top or in the oven for an easy one pan dinner.
Pro tip: Always pat chicken dry with a paper towel before adding to the hot oil to sear. Removing moisture will yield a quicker and crispier sear.
As I learned in Culinary School, don’t use a non-stick pan for anything much other than cooking eggs, or delicate fish. Non-stick pans simply won’t heat up hot enough to produce a good sear. They won’t give you the crispiness or browning that want to achieve that Maillard Reaction.
… More braised Chicken Thigh Recipes
What Oil Should I Use For Braising Chicken Thighs?
Not only is using the right pan important in insuring a crispy outer layer on any meat, so is using the right kind of oil.
An oil with a high smoking point such as safflower oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, or peanut oil. All of these are refined oils, which means they’ll get hotter, and they are neutral in flavor. They’re better suited at cooking at higher temperatures, which will insure a crispy fried chicken thigh.
If you don’t get the skin of that chicken crispy enough, it will become flabby when simmered in that braising liquid. Not a good textural experience.
Pro-tip: Hot pan, cold oil. Always heat your pan before adding cold oil. Then wait until the oil is shimmering before adding your meat to sear. Hot oil will yield a quicker and crispier sear.
If you’re looking to learn all about smoking points and cooking with different oils, take a look at this article. Lots of good information. And important to learn if you’re serious about your cooking skills.
….And Even More Recipes
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Why Trust These Recipes? Lea Ann Brown has lived, worked and played in Colorado for 45 years. She has immersed herself in the Colorado Culinary space, is a Culinary School Graduate and publishes her Colorado food Blog, Cooking On The Ranch.