Braised Chicken with Delicata Squash and Other Stuff, Too

We’re huge fans of one-pot meals, especially in winter. Variations of Coq au vin and chicken provençal are often prepared weekly, and tonight it’s sort of a wine-less mish-mosh of a provençal-ish braise with chicken thighs, diced onion, orange bell pepper, canned diced tomato, delicata squash slices, and shitake mushrooms to add an earthy tone.

dinner supplies prepped for cooking

Preheat oven to 275. In a dutch oven (I use my beloved Le Creuset braiser) brown the chicken well. Remove browned chicken from the pan and place in a bowl or plate with sides to catch any juices. Remove skin (feed to dog if available) and tent with aluminum foil. Discard all but about a tablespoon of fat from the pot. Add onion to pot, sauté till transparent. Deglaze with 2 cups of so of low sodium chicken stock. Add one can of diced tomatoes (drained), add spices*, return to a boil. Submerge chicken adding any residual chicken liquid. Layer delicata squash slices atop chicken. Cover and place in oven for a starting time of 1:15.

cflower-spiced

While the chicken is cooking cut the cauliflower into small florets. In a large bowl toss with a good amount of olive oil, so all florets have some oil on them, but not so much as they’re swimming. For tonight’s version, I’m adding Tuscan Sunset blend, roasted garlic and a sprinkle of Piment d’Espelette. Toss really well. Set aside.

When time’s up remove from oven and check liquid level. Add more stock if you think it’s looking a bit dry. Layer shitake slices atop the delicata, replace cover and put the pan back in the oven for 20 minutes.

Preheat toaster oven to 400. Arrange cauliflower in a single layer and roast until the tips of the topmost florets are showing some char. If everything’s in place for dinner, pull the cauliflower, tent loosely and get the table set and the entertainment queued up.

If you need a bit more time, drop the toaster oven temp to 160 and leave the cauliflower in the oven until ready to go.

Spice still life

For the past 10 years or so I’ve been buying most of my staple spices from Penzeys. Their prices seem pretty much in line with supermarket prices and I like their stores. They also offer unique blends that, more often than not, perform as advertised. Yeah, I know the blends are just a way for them to sell the spices twice, but they save me time and I’ve found a few I really like. Tuscan Sunset is one, Northwoods Fire is another.

*Regarding spices, you can go in a number of directions. For tonight’s mix, I opted to go straight savory with a blend of basil, oregano, red bell pepper, garlic, thyme, fennel, black pepper and anise (Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset blend). But you could go with cayenne and make it more like a Diavolo braise.

Here is the savory cauliflower recipe

 

Savory Roasted Cauliflower
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 
A super-simple side that goes with just about everything.
Cuisine: American
Author: Jeremy
Ingredients
  • 1 medium/large head of cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons to 4 of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of Penzey's Tuscan Sunset spice blend*
  • 1 tbsp of piment d'espelette
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Cut cauliflower into manageable florets.
  3. Place cauliflower in a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil and toss well.
  4. Sprinkle with the Tuscan Sunset and toss well.
  5. Sprinkle with the piment d'espelette and toss well.
  6. Arrange cauliflower in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet trying not to crowd the florets.
  7. Roast for 20 minutes or until tips of florets begin to show some char.
  8. Remove and serve immediately or reduce oven temp to 160 whilst making other preparations.
Recipe Notes

I use pre-made herb and spice blends from Penzey's when I can. They save time, and, mostly, perform as advertised. I realize blends are mostly a way for vendors to sell a spice or herb twice (or more!), but I'm ok with that.

 

And here’s the main braise

Braised Chicken Thighs with Delicata Squash & Other Stuff
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 20 mins
 

A simple braise that usually results in leftovers that are better the next day.

Course: Main Course
Servings: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 5 chicken thighs bone-in, skin-on
  • 1 small/medium Delicata squash halved lengthwise, seeds removed, sliced thin (1/4 inch)
  • 1 medium yellow onion medium dice
  • 3-4 cloves garlic Minced or run through a garlic press
  • 1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper medium dice
  • 8 oz shiitake mushrooms pre-sliced saves time
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 14 oz diced tomatoes 1 regular-sized can
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325.

  2. Generously season 5 (or so) of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a dutch oven or braiser until shimmering. Add chicken skin side down and brown well, at least 10-15 minutes. Carefully turn chicken and brown on other side. Remove chicken to a platter and loosely tent with foil.

  3. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from dutch oven/braiser. Return to heat and sautee onion until translucent. Add the garlic and then add sprinkles of any number of herbs (chervil, basil, oregano, thyme, even a pinch of rosemary). Sautee until fragrant, maybe 1 minute.

  4. Pour in the chicken broth and deglaze the pan being sure to scrape up all the browned bits. Add the diced tomato and bring to low simmer.

  5. As the pan is heating up remove the skin from the chicken thighs. I normally set this aside to add to the dog's dinner. Submerge the chicken thighs in the liquid adding broth if needed so they're just barely covered. Add any collected chicken juice from the platter, too. Layer the delicata slices over the chicken. They can overlap. Cover tightly and place in oven. Set timer for one and a half hours.

  6. When timer sounds, remove and check liquid level. It's ok if it's down a bit, but add broth if chicken is more than half exposed. Add the peppers and then the mushrooms atop the chicken. Cover and return to over for at least another hour. I like to add some more herbs at this point, usually oregano.

  7. When timer sounds, remove from oven. Uncover and remove chicken along with the squash, pepper and mushrooms with a slotted spoon to a serving platter. Tent loosely. Return the pot to the stove and bring to a brisk simmer stirring occasionally. Reduce volume by at least 1/3 (but sometimes I reduce it way down). Taste for salt/herbs and adjust as needed. Spoon reduced mixture over chicken and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

This is one of those "seat of the pants" sort of concoctions that tend to lose their magic when explained step-by-step.

The gist is the same for this as most braised dishes: brown the meat, remove the meat, cook the sturdy vegetables and aromatics in the juice/oil expelled from the meat, add acidifier (in this case tomatoes) and cook a bit more. Deglaze with broth or broth/wine. Reduce. Return meat. Cover securely and place in medium-hot oven for an hour or so. Check after an hour, add more liquid if needed and then add the delicate vegetables. Increase oven temp to 375. Return the covered pot to the oven for 20 to 30 minutes more. Easy-peasy.