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Braised Chicken Problems

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I'm thinking of making Giuliano Hazan's Chicken Braised with Porcini Mushrooms tonight. I've had problems braising chicken the the past, it always ends up being sort of tough. I think this results from the pan getting too hot. I was wondering if anyone has any experience with this recipe or any tips as to how to get braised chicken to come out tender and delicious. Also, any thougths on what to serve along side would be most appreciated.

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  1. A heavy dutch oven is usually best for braising; also, instead of braising it on the stovetop (don't know if you do that now) pop it in the oven. It cooks more evenly, all around.

    And pull it out when it's still barely pink. It'll rise to the proper temperature off heat.

    1. Thanks MuppetGrrl. Any sense of what temperature works best for the oven?

      1. I usually go with 350. It's my "I'm not sure which temperature to use" default. :)

        1. I don't know about braising in the oven, but remember that you want the liquid to maintain a bare simmer. If your liquids boil, the meat can get tough and dry, even if it's fully immersed in the liquid.

          1. Oh! You might also want to brine the chicken in salt water. That keeps it tender longer.

            1. 350F is the high end of oven temps for braising, and I would tend only to use it on fatty cuts. 300F is safer for leaner cuts like chicken, though it takes longer and the chicken does not caramelize the same way.

              You can also add the technique of taking laying a piece of parchment paper (much better than foil because it does not conduct heat, and doesn't melt like wax paper) and forming it over the top and sides of the chicken down to the liquid. That will help reduce air-drying via steaming.

              1. Also if you are using a whole cut up chicken, the white meats cook faster and have the tendency to dry out. The thighs and drumsticks are more forgiving. I usually take out the white parts 10 minutes before the rest is done or add the white parts to the braising pot a little later.

                1. You should try to get a tough old rooster for braising, that's what the Coq au vin is made from. That kind of bird stands up to a long braise. If you can't, I'd steer clear of any white meat parts. Just braise thighs and legs. It would not dry out as much and can take a braise.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: OnceUponABite

                    Unfortunately, in the US, roosters are not generally available for sale, let alone tough old ones. Capons can be found in better poultry markets (we are fortunate to have Mayflower Poultry in east Cambridge, MA, for dependable supply of fresh capon...), but capons are not tough old roosters, nor is what is labelled "fowl" in US markets.

                    Turkey thighs are the subject of much praise on these boards, of course....

                  2. First, you have to keep the chicken covered constantly by the liquid.
                    Second, you need to keep it all at a low simmer. Do it in the oven in a heavy pot, like a Le Creuset, or a heavy Dutch Oven.
                    Third, if you get an old rooster or a tough bird, you will need to keep it in the cooking liquid at the low heat for a long time until it falls apart, I have left some braised meats overnight in the oven.
                    Fourth, try using boneless chicken thigh meat instead of breast meat. Sometimes cheaper cuts from birds work wonders.
                    Fifth, make sure the liquid really tastes wonderful beforehand, including stock, wine, juice, whatever you use as liquid.