Chicken – bland, boring, dry, and pedestrian. That sounds like someone I used to know…Times, they are a-changing. Of course chicken sucks when it is cooked inappropriately. So we have to cook it appropriately and in ways that are exciting yet accentuating of its natural essence. This is one such recipe where braised chicken shines and is generously elevated in simple complexity.
Elements of Sicilian-Italian and Asian resonant in this braising liquid. All at once, the chicken’s braising liquid makes lips smack from sourness, sweetness, and spiciness. The balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar together may sound too intense, but in actuality, when braised they mellow out into a unique bath that will make anyone a fan of this chicken dish. Your taste buds will punch you right back in the face, in a good way.
Sweet and sour balsamic and red wine vinegar braised chicken
Ingredients (serves 8)
- 5 pounds chicken, skin-on and bone-in (preferably thighs)
- 1 lb pearl onions (Prepare them to the instructions on the package, if frozen)
- 1/2 red onion, sliced
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
- Inch of fresh ginger
- 1 Thai chili, sliced in half
- 6 garlic cloves
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Olive oil
- Salt / Pepper
- (Optional) Golden raisins, handful
Use a medium-sized pot for this one-pot dish. Season the chicken pieces aggressively with salt and pepper. Sear the chicken in olive oil, skin side down first, over high heat. Sear for five minutes, or until a gorgeous crust develops. Flip the chicken and sear for another couple minutes on the flesh side. Remove chicken from pan and reserve half of the chicken fat that rendered.
Turn the heat down to medium, and add to the rendered chicken fat some butter, the pearl onions, red onions, ginger, chili, and bay leaves. Saute these aromatics for five minutes. Then push the vegetables to one side of the pan and add the brown sugar directly to the pan. Have the brown sugar caramelize for a couple of minutes before mixing it with the vegetables. Then add the balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, and chicken stock. Bring the braising liquid up to boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, add back the seared chicken, cover with the lid, and have it braise for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, check the chicken and ensure it is fork tender. Remove the chicken from the braising liquid. Turn the heat to high and have the liquid reduce for 5-10 minutes. Serve this sweet and sour braised chicken with rice, noodles, or some other satisfying starch. Make sure to serve some of the pearl onions with the chicken. Now you’re all set! Eat and enjoy.