Saturday, July 16, 2011

Braised Chicken Legs and Vegetables in Beer

These roasted chicken leg quarters couldn't be any easier. Just throw everything in the pot, stick it in the oven and go get some laundry done, read a book, or pack some boxes (okay, so maybe not that last bit--I still have a lot to get done before August!). I suggest pairing this with the beer with which you cook.

Makes 6 servings
Active time: about 30 minutes (includes vegetable prep)
Total time: 2 hours

3 chicken leg quarters, skin on
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, washed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch cubes
4-5 carrots, peeled and chopped into 2-inch pieces
1/2 fennel bulb, chopped
1 large onion, peeled and quartered (root end left in tack)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 sprigs rosemary
1 2-inch stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
2 tsp kosher salt
2 C light chicken or vegetable stock
12 oz ale (I used an amber ale)
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 325F.

In a very large Dutch oven or stock pot, add the potatoes, then the chopped fennel, the onion, garlic cloves, rosemary, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and 1 tsp kosher salt (or a bit less, depending on the saltiness of your stock).

Season the chicken leg quarters generously with the rest of the salt and add them on top of the vegetables, skin side up. Pour in the stock and beer, add some freshly ground pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes.

Transfer the pot to the oven (still uncovered) and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven and spoon some of the braising liquid over the top of the chicken legs. Cover the pot with foil and put back in the oven for another 30 minutes (the foil will help keep the chicken from browning too much).

Remove the foil from the pot, spoon some more braising liquid over the chicken and return to the oven again for 30 minutes. After this final cooking stage, your vegetables should be very tender and the chicken will be falling off the bone.

Remove the cinnamon stick, rosemary stems, and bay leaves. Transfer the chicken to a plate or cutting board and let rest while you plate the dish. You can plate this a couple of ways. If you're having company and want to be all fancy, transfer the vegetables to a large platter or bowl, leaving the liquid in the pot. Pile the chicken pieces on top and keep warm in a 200F oven. If you don't want to serve the chicken legs whole (or mostly whole), transfer them to a cutting board and pull the chicken from the bone (your hands are awesome tools for this if the chicken is cool enough--otherwise just use a fork). Plate the vegetables, still leaving the liquid in the pot, and pile the shredded chicken on top. Keep warm in a 200F oven while you reduce the braising liquid.

With the leftover liquid, bring to a boil and simmer until reduced by a third or so. Spoon the gravy over the chicken and vegetables and serve!

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