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The best tips for braising chicken thighs include thoroughly browning the thighs in a stove top skillet, tenderizing the meat with enough liquid flavoring ingredients, and simmering the chicken pieces long enough to thicken the liquid into a glaze. Many cooks report better success at braising chicken thighs instead of other cuts of chicken. Thighs have higher fat content that usually prevents them from becoming dry or tough during the cooking process. Preparing chicken for braising typically involves rinsing and drying each piece before adding the thighs to hot oil or butter in a frying pan. Most recipes do not include instructions for seasoning the raw chicken with dried spices before braising because this step is accomplished with the added liquid.
Braising chicken thighs involves partially immersing browned pieces in liquid and cooking the chicken further until it is tender. Some cooks like to use canola or vegetable oil for this step while others prefer to use butter instead. The average cook time for browning the chicken thighs is between seven and ten minutes depending on the size of each piece. A frequent beginning mistake is to brown the chicken for a longer time, which can lead to dry finished meat. The chicken thighs are generally cooked more completely during the braising process.
The liquid used for braising chicken thighs can range from water to white wine to chicken stock, depending on individual preferences. Some cooks use fruit juice in flavors such as orange or cranberry as a sweet option for braising chicken thighs. An additional important tip is to only add the amount of liquid that the recipe instructions dictate. Mixing in too much or too little braising liquid will affect the texture of the braised chicken dish. Favorite dried spices commonly added to the braising liquid include sea salt, cumin, or black pepper.
Instructions for braising chicken thighs often entail first bringing the liquid to a moderate boil before adding the chicken thighs and then lowering the stove temperature to medium. The chicken thighs are then typically cooked further in the braising liquid for an additional 40 to 45 minutes on average. Most experienced cooks recommend checking the centers of each chicken thigh to make sure the meat is cooked all the way through. Adding a small amount of corn starch usually thickens the braising liquid into a glaze for adding more flavor to the finished dish.
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