Recipe: Bourbon Braised Chicken Thighs with Mustard Greens, Apple, Bacon & Grits

Chef Stuart Stein with the Culinary Arts Institute at UVU shares a delicious southern cooking recipe featuring all locally sourced food. You can get more information on  the Slow Food Utah Feast of Five Senses  at SlowFoodUtah.org

Sunday, October 16th

5:30 PM

Jewett Center for the Performing Arts at Westminster College

Bourbon Braised Chicken Thighs with Mustard Greens, Apple, Bacon and Grits

Cooking the chicken thigh in a bourbon spiked liquid, low and slow, results in an unctuous, tender and succulent dish.

Chicken

4 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in

all purpose flour, as needed

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large white onion, roughly chopped

2 stalks celery, roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

½ cup bourbon

2½ to 3 cups chicken stock

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Garnish

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped

Mustard Greens

¼ pound bacon, cut into ¼-inch dice

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

pinch crushed red pepper flakes

1 to 2 bunches mustard greens, stems removed from leaves

- stems cut into ½-inch lengths

- leaves cut into 1-inch lengths, washed

1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch dice

¼ cup chicken, vegetable stock or water

kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Grits

1 cup water

1 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons butter

kosher salt and ground white pepper, to taste

¾ cup corn grits (not instant)

TO BRAISE THE CHICKEN: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Dry the chicken thigh, season with salt and pepper and lightly dusk with flour. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a large braising pan (with a lid) over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the chicken, skin side down and sear until just golden brown, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and sear the other side for and additional 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken thighs to a plate and reserve.

If needed, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the same pan. When the oil is hot, add the onion and celery to the pan, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, approximately 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the bourbon and reduce the liquid volume by ½. Add the chicken stock, thyme and bay leaf and bring to a boil.

Add the chicken, skin side up, and any accumulated juices to the pan,. Make sure the liquid comes ⅔ to ¾ of the way up the chicken. Cover and simmer, DO NOT BOIL, until the chicken is cooked through, approximately 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove chicken from the sauce. Simmer the sauce over medium heat until the liquid is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the sauce, taste and adjust seasoning and return it to the braising pan. Keep sauce warm.

TO MAKE THE MUSTARD GREEN: Place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon has rendered its fat and is crisp, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Leave 2 to 3 tablespoons of bacon fat in the pan and remove the rest and save for another use.

Add the garlic to the hot bacon fat and cook for 1 minute. Add the mustard green stems, apple, salt, pepper and stock or water. Bring to a simmer, uncovered until greens are tender and the liquid is almost reduced to almost dry, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Add the chard leaves and cook until wilted, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and bacon.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Keep warm.

TO MAKE THE GRITS: Combine the water, milk, butter, salt, and white pepper in a medium saucepan with a tightfitting lid. Place saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

Add the grits to the liquid while continually whisking. Once all of the cornmeal has been incorporated, decrease the heat to low and cover. Remove lid and whisk frequently, every 3 to 4 minutes, to prevent grits from sticking or forming lumps. Cook until mixture is smooth and creamy, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Keep warm.

TO SERVE THE CHICKEN: Preheat the broiler.

Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet, skin side up. Broil on the middle rack of the oven until the skin is golden and crisp, about 4 minutes.

Place grits in the center of a plate. Top with Swiss chard. Place chicken thigh on top of chard and drizzle sauce over chicken and sprinkle with fresh thyme.

ADVANCED PREPARATIONS: The chicken thighs are better if they are braised 1 to 2 days ahead of time and refrigerated in the sauce. When ready to serve, remove and fat that accumulated on top of the sauce. Reheat the chicken thighs in the braising liquid until hot. Remove and then broil until the skin golden and crisp.

SUBSTITUIONS AND OPTIONS: Substitute rabbit for the chicken to make Bourbon Braised Bunnies with Bacon. The alliteration only adds to the southern charm and the rabbit contributes another flavor profile layer.

Four weighted ounces of shredded sharp cheddar cheese may be added to grits after they are cooked.

BEVERAGE NOTES: The southern flavors – smoky bacon, creamy grits and a sweet corn-based bourbon infused sauce – call for a red wine with soft fruit and low tannins. A Grenache heavy red wine blend will match well.

Recommended: Bonny Doon, Clos de Gilroy, Grenache, Monterey County, California balances the fruity Grenache with a bit of Mourvèdre and Syrah.

A Mint Julep is a bourbon based cocktail with muddled spearmint, sugar syrup and crushed ice served in silver or pewter cups. Bourbon with a bourbon sauce… heck ya.

Makes 4 entrée portions