Autumn Inspired Braised Boneless Chicken Thighs

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Getting tired of your average chicken?  If so, give this recipe a try.  For me, it was a way to use up a lot of extra ingredients I had kicking around.  The pumpkin puree was leftover from a batch of muffins I had made earlier in the day, I needed to fry up a pound of bacon for Bourbon Maple Bacon and Pecan Cookies which I wanted to test out, and the tomato juice was from cooking down the latest tomato harvest from our garden.  After tasting the finished product, I decided the tomato juice and wine gave the gravy an acidic taste, so the drizzle of maple syrup was just the right solution for taking care of that problem, while also lending a greater depth of flavor.  I have to say that this chicken, served over Trader Joe’s Creamy Polenta with Spinach & Carrots, was one of the most amazing chicken dishes I’ve ever eaten.  Too bad I’ll probably never have all of the same leftovers at the same exact time again.

Ingredients:

  • 5 or 6 Boneless/Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 6 Garlic Cloves, Minced and Separated in Half
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Slices of Thick Cut Bacon
  • 1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour for Dredging
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Shallot, Finely Diced
  • 1 (10-oz.) Container of Baby Bella Mushrooms, Diced
  • 1/2 Cup Red Wine
  • 1 Cup Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 2 Cups Tomato Juice
  • 1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon Corn Starch (Dissolved in 2 Teaspoons Water)
  • 1 Cup Diced Tomatoes
  • Maple Syrup for Drizzling (1 Tablespoon for Each Chicken Thigh)

Directions:

  1. Combine half of the minced garlic cloves with kosher salt, and then rub mixture onto boneless chicken thighs.
  2. Season thighs with freshly ground pepper, and then set aside.
  3. Chop bacon, and place in a large Dutch oven, over medium-high heat.  Cook until browned.  Remove bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels.
  4. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess.  Place into the Dutch oven with bacon drippings.  Cook on each side for 2 to 3 minutes, over medium-high heat to get a golden color.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and add olive oil, shallots, and mushrooms to the pan.  Cook for 3 minutes.
  6. Add remaining garlic to the pan, and saute for 1 minute.
  7. Add wine, chicken broth, tomato juice, pumpkin puree, and balsamic vinegar to the pan.  Whisk until all ingredients are well combined, then bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat to low.
  9. Combine corn starch with water, and whisk into the pan.
  10. Add diced tomatoes, bacon, and chicken thighs to the Dutch oven.  Cover with a lid, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  11. When serving, drizzle one tablespoon of warmed pure maple syrup over each chicken thigh.

Suggestions:

  • Make sure to get a nice golden color on the chicken thighs for a better serving presentation.
  • You can substitute boneless/skinless chicken breasts in place of the thighs, but you will lose a little bit of flavor and tenderness.
  • If you don’t have thick cut bacon available, use 4 slices of regular bacon.
  • I used homemade tomato juice for this recipe, made from cooked down and strained tomatoes.  You can substitute Low-Sodium V8 or Campbell’s Low-Sodium Tomato Juice.
  • Serve over polenta or grits, which will soak up the delicious gravy, and become the most heavenly thing you’ve ever put in your mouth.

Improvements:

  • Finely chopped celery and carrot would work nicely in this dish.  Place them in the pan at the same time you saute the shallot and mushrooms.
  • Add fresh chopped parsley or chives when serving.

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Where was Brenna during all of this?  You would have thought the little trouble maker would have been stuck to me like glue, screaming out her great desire to be given some chicken.  But no, she was nowhere to be found, until I discovered her making a comfy nest on the new Halloween blanket I put in the living room.  One more fur-coated item I will need to remember to wash each week!

Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck

-Colleen




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