Monday, November 5, 2012

Brown ale braised chicken

Brown ale is a hearty beer, a natural for cool-weather soups and braises!
It has a nutty flavor that can border on bitter,
along with a sweetness that can range
from caramel toffee to rich molasses.
And I think it is what makes this take on chicken stew so delightful!

Something about the smell and look of this comforting dish brings me back to Ireland.  After getting lost in the hills of Killarney, the huzz and I finally made it safely back to town and devoured some delicious chicken stews inside a warm roadside diner.
So, perhaps it's the dark beer.
Perhaps it's just the idea of braised meat & stew in general.
Or, perhaps it's the fact that I want to enjoy it on a cold, rainy day.  
Whatever the reason, it reminds me why I love cooking - it brings back memories!
And, it makes my tummy happy.
And will surely make your "meat ant potatoes" (and beer!) guy happy, too.

If you're not familiar with brown ales,  let me suggest a few:
Sam Adams Hazel
Newcastle Brown Ale
Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale
Abita Turbodog
Lost Coast Downtown Brown
New Glarus Fat Squirrel OR Sour Brown Ale

If you're not big into "darker" beers, have no fear.
Most grocers nowadays offer a "build your own 6-pack" 5 of your favorite brews and snag one brown ale for the recipe.  Win win!

This recipe will make roughly 4 servings at ~300 calories per serving.
A light and delicious stew!
I will raise my beer to that.


1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp fresh or dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

4-8 chicken thighs (skinless, skin-on, bone-in or bone-out)*
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, thickly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery (reserve and chop the leaves), roughly sliced
~8 small carrots, roughly chopped
1 handful of fresh green beans, trimmed and halved (optional)
~3 small potatoes, cut into chunks (optional)
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 12-oz bottle of brown ale (see suggestions above)
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth**
Coarsely chopped celery leaves and/or fresh thyme (or parsley)

*I used 4 chicken thighs and the potatoes.   If you used 8, perhaps cut down on the veg OR add more chicken broth.
**If you don't have a big box of chicken broth in your fridge and don't want to crack open a can for just 1/2 cup, simply dissolve one chicken bouillon cube in 1/2 cup of boiling hot water.

Note:  You can substitute whatever veggies you and your family like.  I think mushrooms would be fantastic. Select anything that tastes good with chicken and you can't go wrong!


Preheat oven to 350.
In a small bowl, combine the spices; rub onto chicken and let stand 10 minutes.
In an extra-large oven-proof skillet OR dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add chicken; cook until well-browned on both sides (or when skin is crispy).  Remove the chicken to a plate and drain all but 1 Tbsp of fat.

In the same skillet, saute all of the veggies for about 7 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Stir in flour and cook for one minute.  Stir in beer and broth.  Bring to a simmer.  
Return the chicken (and it's juices!) to the skillet.  Cover and bake for ~45 minutes.  

Spoon a ladle full of broth and veggies into a wide bowl.
Top with a chicken thigh...and behold it's glorious fork tenderness.
Sprinkle with celery leaves and/or fresh herbs.
Serve with a cold beer and a lovely piece of buttered cracked wheat bread (or two) to soak up all that delicious broth.  (This is a must!)

Then snuggle up with your love and reap the compliments.
And relish the fact that you won't have to wear stretchy pants in the morning.

And enjoy instilling lunch envy with your leftovers!

~photos by b~

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