Today is actually National Butterscotch Pudding Day. I love butterscotch but am not a huge fan of pudding. I thought I would celebrate by making one of my favourite childhood treats: butterscotch brownies. Then I realized that B had already blogged about “blondies”, and my hopes were dashed. I considered buying a sundae with butterscotch sauce, but that seem a bit, well, * yawn *

So instead, I went completely off-grid and decided to blog about one of my very favourite rainy-day meals: braised chicken.

As one news announcer said today, it’s seemed more like the beginning of winter in Vancouver instead of the beginning of fall. It’s been raining, gray, and miserable. Basically February in September. Perfect weather for a hot, salty, saucy, soupy, hearty meal of braised chicken.

it was this kind of day

I admit, I didn’t come to this idea on my own. I’ve been laid up lately and watching a LOT of television. My “crack” is cooking television. I particularly like Michael Smith’s “Chef at Home”. Well, good ol’ Michael had a recent “vanilla” episode, in which he created a lovely vanilla braised chicken. I thought “hmmm”. I wasn’t really all over the vanilla; I prefer Italian flavours in my braised chicken. But I was definitely inspired. After all, as Michael says,”A recipe is merely words on paper; a guideline, a starting point from which to improvise.”

Here, without further ado, is my recipe:

Eva’s Braised Chicken

  • 2 lbs chicken thighs, bones removed and reserved
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 6 anchovies, chopped (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 C sherry or brandy
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 5 or 6 plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 C large green olives, pitted & halved
  • 3 T capers, drained
  • 5 or 6 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10-12 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 C chicken broth (or white wine if you prefer)
  • salt & pepper to taste

1.       Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a very large pan over medium-high heat. Brown chicken thighs and bones in oil. Remove and set aside (at this point you can remove the skin from the chicken if you want). DON’T clean the pan. The yummy browned bits at the bottom are essential to the taste.

leave those yummy browned bits in the pan

2.       Toss the onion and celery into the pan and stir until slightly softened. Add the garlic and anchovies and stir until anchovies dissolve.

softening the onions and celery

3.       Reduce heat to medium-low and deglaze the pan with the sherry or brandy. Scrape the bottom of the pan to incorporate all the browned bits into the onion mixture.

4.       Add the chicken and bones back into the pan. Top with the tomatoes, olives, capers, thyme, bay leaf, half of the basil, and the chicken stock. Add a healthy dose of pepper but no salt yet; there’s already plenty in the sauce.

ready to braise!

5.       Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for at least 40 minutes. Poke the vegetables into the broth from time to time.

6.       Remove the bones. Tear up the remaining basil and add to the sauce. Taste and salt if necessary.

7.       Serve over rice, noodles, or couscous (I had mine with toasted-garlic couscous).

"Italian" braised chicken over toasted garlic couscous.

Perfect for a rainy February day in September.

xx Eva