Bring Out the Best in Sustainably Raised Chicken with this Easy, 1-Hour Braising Recipe
When’s the last time you had chicken? Odds are it was recently, as chicken became the most popular meat in the United States in 2017, and for good reason. Chicken is tasty, widely available, budget-friendly, easy to prepare, and an excellent part of a healthier, sustainable diet.
That’s right, when you choose Do Good Chicken, you’re choosing a more sustainable meat that has one of the lowest amounts of carbon impact for animal proteins. And, of course, it’s thoughtfully produced to be a 100% natural (minimally processed, no artificial ingredients) cage-free chicken that’s hatched, raised, and harvested in the USA with no artificial ingredients, antibiotics, hormones, or steroids. Plus, chicken is low in calories and saturated fat, high in protein, and full of other nutrients your body needs.
Of the many ways to prepare chicken, Do Good Chicken co-founder and chef Sam Kass recommends braising — a low and slow process that takes ordinary chicken preparations to a whole new level of tenderness and flavor. While Kass prefers purchasing and preparing chicken from sustainable food companies, he says any bone-in, dark meat chicken is delicious when braised.
In this recipe for Braised Chicken with Orange and Olives, chicken thighs are seared on the stove and then finished in the oven with the amazingly aromatic flavors of Sicily and Morocco for a tender, tasty chicken dish that comes together in just one hour.
Ways to Customize This Dish
Missing an ingredient or just want to work with what you’ve got in the fridge? We have you covered.
- No juniper berries? No problem. Substitutions for this woodsy flavor include adding either a few sprigs of rosemary, 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds or cardamom, or even a splash of gin.
- Capers make a great swap for olives. Add ½ a cup of capers for the cup of olives.
- If you don’t have chicken thighs, you can also braise skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts, although they may require an extra 5-10 minutes of cooking time, depending on how big they are. (Both the bone and the skin of this cut helps distribute heat evenly throughout the meat, while the skin seals in moisture and juiciness.)
- Boneless, skinless chicken cuts are a fine substitute for bone-in cuts. If you’re using breasts that are on the large side, consider cutting them in half lengthwise. This will allow more of the sauce to soak into the chicken and keep it from drying out. When in doubt, use a meat thermometer to test for doneness. Insert it into the thickest part of the chicken piece. When it reaches 165 degrees, it is safe to eat.
- Lemon zest is a great substitute for orange zest in this braised chicken recipe. If you have orange extract on hand, you can add a ¼ – ½ teaspoon to this dish (be careful not to add too much as orange extract has a very concentrated flavor).
- If you don’t own an oven-safe skillet, make this recipe as directed, except when it’s time to transfer to the oven, put the pan ingredients and the chicken in an oven-safe baking dish.
- If you don’t like crispy skin, you can skip the final step to broil the braised chicken for the last few minutes.
What Is the Braising Method in Cooking?
The cooking technique of “braising” means to first sear, then simmer meat and accompanying veggies (or in this case, orange zest, olives, onions, juniper berries, and herbs) then finish in liquid to concentrate the flavors into the meat and sauce.
The braising method tenderizes meat that could be otherwise tough or chewy (like bone-in chicken legs) until it is fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth tender and delicious.
How to Braise More Sustainably
One of the most important aspects of cooking more sustainably is to reduce waste when cooking. For this recipe, that would look like:
- Taking care to measure all ingredients rather than “eyeballing” when adding to the recipe.
- If you use bone-in chicken, save the bones to make stock later.
- Onion skins can be added to a bag of vegetable scraps and kept in the freezer for making stock or you can add them to your compost bin.
- Don’t pitch that orange after you’ve zested it. Eat or juice the fruit and compost the rest.
- Keep any leftovers in a covered dish in the fridge for up to 5 days and plan to eat it within that time frame. (Hint: This braised chicken is an excellent recipe to add to any meal-prepping plans you have for the week.)
Braised Chicken with Orange and Olives
Serves: 4 to 6
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 6-8 chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
- Kosher salt
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup pitted green olives, roughly chopped
- 3 long, wide strips orange zest, white pith cut away
- ½ cup fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon dried juniper berries or rosemary (optional)
- 1 fresh thyme sprig or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- Preheat the oven to 350℉ and position an oven rack in the upper third. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season generously with salt. Cook the chicken skin-side down, without messing with it much, until the skin is golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Flip and brown the other side, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Add the onion to the pan, occasionally stirring and scraping up any browned bits, and cooking until golden at the edges, about 8 minutes. Add the stock, olives, orange zest, orange juice, juniper berries (if using), and thyme. Return the chicken to the pan, skin-side up, along with any juices left on the plate. (Ideally the liquid will come about halfway up the sides of the chicken, but don’t sweat it if not.) Bring the liquid to a simmer and then roast in the oven, uncovered, until the chicken is tender and the skin is brown and crips, about 45 minutes. (Optional: broil the chicken for the last few minutes to get the skin extra crispy.)
- Season the sauce with salt to taste, though it may not need any.
Did braising make you a believer that chicken tastes delicious? To learn more about how Do Good Chicken is good for the plate and the planet, read our sustainability facts.
Looking for Do Good Chicken? Check out our store locator to see if we’re currently sold in retailers near you!