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Porter-Braised Chicken Thighs with Root Vegetables

Slightly bitter and with a deep coffee-like flavor, porter, a very dark ale, makes this braise rustic and hearty. The interplay of the toasty nuances from the porter, the sweetness of root vegetables and the spiciness of Dijon mustard creates a poultry stew full of contrasting but harmonious flavors.

Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots
  • 2 red potatoes
  • 1 celery root, about 14 oz.
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, about 3 1/4 lb. total
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 7 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 bottles porter, each 12 fl. oz.
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
  • 2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Directions:

Peel the carrots and then cut the carrots and unpeeled potatoes into 1-inch chunks. Peel the celery root, cut it in half lengthwise, and then cut away any spongy or gnarly parts. Cut into 1-inch chunks. Peel and chop the onion.

Season the chicken thighs with the 2 tsp. salt and the 1/2 tsp. pepper. In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the oil until very hot but not smoking. Working in batches, add the chicken thighs, skin side down, and cook, turning once or twice, until lightly browned on both sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a platter. Pour off the fat in the pot.

Reduce the heat to medium, add 2 Tbs. of the butter to the pot and let it melt. Add the onion and sauté until golden, about 6 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes and celery root, then stir in the porter, broth, brown sugar, mustard, tomato paste and thyme. Return the chicken thighs to the pot, submerging them in the liquid, and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

In a heatproof bowl, mash together the remaining 5 Tbs. butter and the flour to form a thick paste. Gradually whisk about 2 cups of the hot cooking liquid into the flour-butter mixture and then stir this mixture into the pot. Cover and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken shows no sign of pink when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife near the bone, about 10 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Divide the chicken, vegetables and sauce among warmed deep bowls. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Chicken, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2008).