Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Braised Chicken with Thyme and Tomatoes

Two days ago, I had some extra thyme and some very ripe plum tomatoes. There had been a generous yield in the garden and the market take of tomatoes was exceptional last week. Also, now free from work obligations for 6 weeks (for the first time in several years)--I did what most folks would naturally do with some extra free thyme (oh yes, pun intended) on their hands--I cleaned my freezer. While excavating, I found some chicken legs and thighs in the back. Grass-fed chicken (because the bird actually gets some exercise) tends to be a bit chewier than that anemic corn fed stuff called chicken in the grocery store, so it takes a little different kind of treatment, like marinating it in yogurt, garlic and pepper. Normally, this treatment also infuses the already tasty bird with some delicious flavors. I didn't have any yogurt at the moment--it was on the docket for the day and I only had enough left for starter, so I scratched my head (sipped a minty mojito) and looked around for inspiration. Next to my pile of thyme and tomatoes, I had some chicken stock thawing for braising vegetables, and I visualized a delicious mound of eggplant, kale and zucchini holding up a couple of braised chicken thighs and thought YUM! Braising (especially with tomatoes) tenderizes the meat with long, slow cooking, so marinading is not necessary. I made yogurt while this dish cooked. (yes I am the queen of the multi-task).

Thyme and tomato chicken (serves 2)

Oil, butter grease for the pan--2 T
2 of each chicken legs and thighs
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
7-10 plum tomatoes, very ripe
Large handful of thyme sprigs, coarsely chopped

Wash and dry the chicken and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the oil/grease/butter in the pan and add the chicken. Brown on all sides for several minutes, until the chicken starts releasing its juices (put a cover on the pan to avoid the splattering). Add the chicken stock, garlic, tomatoes and thyme and cover. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 45 minutes-1 hour, depending on your chicken and your preferences. Enjoy!

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