For this “stew” if you will, meaty bone-in chicken thighs are seasoned with smoked paprika, salt, and pepper and then browned to build a base of flavor with a subtle, smoky depth of braised chicken with hearty stewed lentils. Next, the onions, tomatoes, and carrot are sautéed and layered in garlic, tomato paste, and earthy fresh thyme to keep the flavor rich and complex.
Tomato paste plays double-duty, adding savoriness while helping to thicken the lentils. The browned chicken thighs are nestled into the lentils, fortifying them with chicken stock and some extra smoked paprika, and braises the mixture uncovered in the oven.
Keeping the Dutch oven uncovered thickens the stewed lentils as the chicken braises. Whisking a splash of sherry vinegar in at the end brightens the dish and helps break down some of the lentils, adding body and creaminess.
Preferably use a large, 6-quart Dutch oven; if your Dutch oven is smaller, you will need to sear the chicken in batches and allow the chicken to overlap slightly in the lentil mixture in step 4. Whisking the lentils vigorously in step 5 helps create a rich, creamy sauce.
2 large plum tomatoes, cored and chopped1 onion, chopped fine
1 carrot, peeled and chopped fine
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup green lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon paprika, and ½ teaspoon pepper in small bowl. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle all over with salt mixture.
Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook until skin is well browned, 12 to 16 minutes; transfer chicken to plate.
Add tomatoes, onion, carrot, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper to fat remaining in pot and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until tomatoes begin to break down, 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in garlic, tomato paste, thyme, and pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fond begins to form on bottom of pot, 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in broth, scraping up browned bits. Stir in lentils and remaining 1 teaspoon paprika. Nestle chicken into lentil mixture, skin side up, and bring to simmer over high heat.
Transfer pot to oven and cook, uncovered, until chicken registers at least 185 degrees, 35 to 40 minutes.
Transfer chicken to clean plate. Return pot (handles will be very hot) to stovetop and continue to cook lentil mixture over medium heat, stirring often, until liquid is thickened and lentils are fully tender, 5 to 7 minutes longer.
Add vinegar and whisk vigorously until liquid is creamy, about 30 seconds (lentil mixture will thicken as it cools). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer lentils to shallow serving bowls and top each portion with 2 chicken thighs. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
For this lamb shanks recipe, Cook’s Illustrated preferred to braise them in the oven rather than on the stovetop, as the oven provided more even heat. Browning the shanks over high heat in a skillet first added a great deal of flavor to the dish. The shanks are braised in chicken stock (which complements, rather than overpowers, the lamb, as beef or veal stock might have), white wine, and herbs.
We made numerous changes to this recipe, starting with the lamb shanks. Instead of six small (which equates to more bone and less meat), we braised two meaty shanks that weighed close to two pounds each. When it is time to brown the shanks, you may have to do it in two batches if cooking more than two of them.
*As for the white beans, we did soak ours overnight as per the instructions below, but you could use 2 cans of cannellinis, drained and rinsed to save time. Instead of using several different skillets and pans, we did everything in one large braising pot. Finally, although we didn’t do it this time, we highly suggest that you reduce the liquids from 3 cups of broth to 2, and 2 cups of white wine down to 1 cup. These changes are note in the recipe below.
Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans, Swiss Chard and Marjoram
1 bunch Swiss chard, cleaned, stemmed, and chopped coarsely
Ground black pepper
FOR BEANS: Bring dried beans, bay leaf, garlic, and water to simmer in large saucepan. Simmer, partially covered, until beans are just tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove from heat, stir in salt, cover, and let beans stand until completely tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserve cooking liquid, and discard bay leaf and garlic. (Beans in liquid can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated up to 5 days.)
FOR SHANKS: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle shanks with salt. Heat oil in a large, nonreactive sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add shanks to pan in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding. Sauté until browned on all sides, 5-7 minutes. Using tongs, transfer shanks to a plate as they brown.
Drain all but 2 tablespoons fat from the sauté pan; add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, tomato paste, a light sprinkling of salt and 2 teaspoons of the fresh marjoram (less if using dried); sauté to soften vegetables slightly, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add wine, then chicken stock to the skillet, stirring with a wooden spoons to loosen browned bits from skillet bottom. Bring liquid to simmer; transfer vegetables and liquid into a deep braising pan, large enough to hold the shanks in a single layer. Add shanks and season with salt and pepper.
Cover pan (with foil if pan has no lid) and transfer it to the oven; braise shanks for 1 1/2 hours. Uncover and continue braising until shank tops are browned, about 30 minutes. Turn shanks and continue braising until remaining side has browned and shanks are fall-off-the-bone tender, about another 20 minutes.
Remove pan from oven; let shanks rest for at least 15 minutes. Carefully transfer shanks with tongs to each plate.
Arrange a portion of vegetables around each shank. Skim excess fat from braising liquid. Add beans and chard and remaining 1 teaspoon marjoram; cook over medium heat until greens wilt, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Spoon a portion of braising liquid over each shank and serve.
An easy weeknight version of Indian curry, this Japanese-riff is a one-pot meal featuring juicy chicken thighs, vegetables and rice. Instead of relying on store-bought or homemade instant curry roux, the recipe builds on a few spices to mimic traditional Japanese curry flavors.
Curry powder, ground nutmeg and Worcestershire sauce are combined and bloomed in butter to create the round and rich sauce. Onions, potatoes and carrots create the bulk of traditional Japanese curry. You can easily substitute sweet potatoes, cauliflower and/or peas to address family preferences.
Kay Chun’s original recipe called for 2 pounds of large chicken thighs. The math doesn’t add up here. We bought a package nearly 2 1⁄2 pounds containing only 5 thighs—and they weren’t necessarily “large,” so if you were serving 6 people, that would be a challenge. I say forget the poundage, and just buy 6 large thighs—there is enough rice mixture to support that many servings.
It is suggested you serve in bowls. Maybe because we used a “paella” rice which is really absorbent, there wasn’t much liquid and could have been served on plates. Speaking of liquid, of course we used homemade stock which adds oodles of flavor. And we nearly doubled the amount of minced fresh ginger to really amp up the Asian flavor.
1 1/2 cups short-grain white rice, rinsed until water runs clear
1 large baking potato (about 1 lb.), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 medium carrots, sliced 1/2-inch-thick
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Chopped scallions pickles, kimchi and/or hot sauce, for serving
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Rub chicken with 1 tablespoon oil, and season with salt and pepper.
In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot (at least 3 1⁄2 quarts), heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil with 1 tablespoon butter over medium until butter is melted. Working in two batches, brown chicken 3 to 4 minutes per side, and transfer to a plate.
Add onion to the pot, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 minutes. Add curry powder, garlic, ginger, nutmeg and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and stir until butter is melted and spices are fragrant, 1 minute.
Add rinsed rice and stir until evenly coated in spices. Add potato, carrots, broth and Worcestershire sauce, scraping bottom of pot to lift up any browned bits. Season broth generously with salt and pepper. Arrange chicken and any accumulated juices on top, skin-side up, and bring to a boil over high. Cover and bake for 20 minutes.
Uncover and bake until most of the liquid is absorbed and chicken is golden and cooked through, about 10 minutes longer.
Divide chicken and rice among bowls, and garnish with scallions. If desired, serve with any combination of pickles, kimchi and hot sauce.
Warm temperature season is behind us which signals it’s time for braised dishes. If there’s one cozy cool weather meal you need to be making, it’s these braised short ribs which are slow-cooked in apple cider with fresh herbs and sweet caramelized onions. It’s simple to put together and unbelievably scrumptious. Serve over a bed of creamy, garlicky mashed potatoes and you’ll have the perfect dinner for a cold night in.
The pairing of sweet apple cider and tangy caramelized onions is a combo with beefy short ribs that can’t be beat. Your kitchen will smell incredible as this slow cooks for hours. Those jammy onions practically melt into the sauce.
Now there were two major changes we made to the directions. First, we saw no reason to wipe out the pan after browning the ribs. Why would you discard that wonderful flavor? Then, at the end, after removing the bay leaves, also remove the ribs and place them onto a platter tightly covered with foil. Keep the pot on the burner and bring contents to a rolling simmer, stirring often. Mash the apple quarters so that they release their pectin and thicken the gravy, then continue to reduce down the sauce for another 10 to 15 minutes.
About 45 minutes before the dish is done, don’t forget to start your creamy mashed potatoes!
Season the short ribs with salt and pepper, then rub with flour to coat. Heat a large oven-safe Dutch Oven over high heat, sear the ribs on both sides. Remove the ribs to a plate. Do this in two batches.
Add the butter and onions and cook 5 minutes, until softened. Add a 1/2 cup apple cider, season with salt and pepper, and continue cooking another 5-8 minutes, until the cider has evaporated and the onions are lightly golden.
Add the thyme, then add the short ribs back to the pot. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups cider, broth or wine, carrots, garlic, and bay leaves. Arrange the apples around the meat. Cover and roast in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the short ribs are tender and falling off the bone.
Remove the bay leaves. Place the ribs onto a clean platter and cover tightly with foil.
Put the pot on a burner over medium heat and bring to a rolling simmer, adjusting heat as needed. With a rubber spatula mash the apple quarters; the pectin in them helps to thicken the sauce. Reduce down for about 10-15 minutes more.
Serve the ribs over a bed of mashed potatoes. Drizzle with the pan sauce and onions.