04 August 2008

Chicken braised in beer

It was a slightly chilly and very gray, rainy day. I decided to make chicken cooked in beer. Why not? I tried to follow a recipe, but I got sidetracked by my own choice of ingredients and by a memory lapse.

Sauté chicken pieces in a non-stick skillet.
Don't crowd the pan.

I often buy chicken leg-and-thigh sections. I buy them frozen at the local Ed market for a very good price — that's important given the worthless dollar these days. And besides, I've been buying these same chicken parts for a couple of years now and we think they are delicious. The recipe called for a whole chicken.

Transfer the browned pieces to a pan with a lid for braising.

Beer is something I enjoy cooking with more than drinking, actually. A good sweet beer makes a nice tasty sauce, especially when you add onions, herbs, carrots, and mushrooms to the pot. So that's what I did. The recipe didn't call for carrots, but I like them. And it called for fresh mushrooms, which I didn't have. So I used dried mushrooms that I had bought at an Asian supermarket in Paris.

Sauté onions and mushrooms in the same pan.
Add sliced carrots and celery if you want them.

Have I told you how much I like the new stove with its hot gas burners? You can really brown chicken pieces, chops, chunks of meat, or vegetables in short order. And you can control the heat in a way that you can't with electric burners.

Put the chicken pieces and all the vegetables in the
braising pan.
Pour on beer, wine, broth, or water.

So here are the steps to making a braised chicken dish. You can use beer, wine (white or red), broth, or just water as the cooking liquid. The first thing to do is to brown the chicken in oil or fat. You can use olive oil, another vegetable oil, butter, or — as I did — duck fat.

Brown the chicken pieces, with the skin on, in a non-stick pan and then transfer it to a stainless steel pan or pot with a lid for the braising part of the recipe. As the chicken finishes browning, add onions, shallots, and herbs — some celery, for example — to the frying pan. Take the chicken pieces out. Put in the mushrooms and carrots to brown a little bit too.

Set the pan on low heat and let it simmer for an hour or two.

When all the aromatics and the chicken are seared and transferred to the lidded pan, pour on the beer, along with some water — including the water that the dried mushrooms were rehydrated in, for example. Put in enough liquid to just cover the chicken and vegetables. Add some salt and pepper too.

Another thing you can add and which my recipe called for is some sautéed lardons or bacon to give some smokiness to the sauce. I was going to use lardons but I forgot to add them. Oh well. Next time. I should have re-read the recipe...

At the end of the cooking, turn up the heat and take
the lid off to let the sauce reduce and thicken.

Then there's nothing left to do. Put a cover on the pan, set it on low heat, and let it simmer for an hour or two. You don't want the chicken to fall apart completely, but you want it to be perfectly tender when the cooking is finished. The onions will cook down into the sauce, and the carrots and mushrooms will be tender.

Serve the braised chicken with rice, potatoes, or noodles.

At the end of the cooking, when you decide it's pretty much done, take the lid off the pan and turn the heat up a little. That way the sauce will boil down and thicken up. You can thicken it with corn or potato starch if you want, but it's not really necessary. Serve with rice, noodles, or boiled potatoes.

I think « Bon appetit ! » is what one says at this point.


  1. It's good that you can get the temperature low enough on the stove top to do that long slow cooking. Most stoves can't manage it, and you need to do this sort of thing in the oven. For best results with tender moist chicken, make sure you bring the temperature down again for a while after reducing the sauce and before serving. You can do this by turning it off and letting the dish sit for 10-20 mins before serving.

  2. Thanks for the advice, Susan. If you have cooked the chicken long enough, there's not need to worry about toughening during the reducing stage. I guess my new stove has the proper settings.

  3. Another great looking recipe, Ken. Yumm Yumm, Miam Miam (and I don't know what they say in Spanish:)). What kind of beer did you use, and was it a lager? I imagine it doesn't matter, but I'm curious.

    My problem seems to be in putting in too much liquid, as I think I did with the Moroccan Chicken that I made. It was still good, but would have had richer flavor with less liquid, I think. (I love cooking with a flame, too... don't like electric stovetops.)

    Speaking of the crappy dollar and the ridiculous strength of the Euro... has there been any mention over in Europe of the big BIG BIG news here in St. Louis that Belgian-based InBev (who makes Stella Artois) has forced a buyout of Anheuser-Busch? We're all still in shock here... St. Louis is SO linked culturally to Anheuser-Busch and everything they have done as a builder of this city that we're all fearing a real downfall after this. For generations, they've been a huge huge philanthropic source for so many programs around here, for one thing, and we can't imagine a foreign company having the same interest in supporting the community.

  4. Now you've got me thinking. So it's going to be duck legs with parsnips a la Jacques Pepin for tonight's dinner. No need to buy the whole canard :-)

  5. Beav, I love that Jacques Pépin recipe, and I'd say that duck leg pieces are better than the breast cooked that way. Same with chicken legs and thighs. The leg & thigh meat is moister when slow-cooked.

    Judy, I haven't heard anything over here about the Anheuser-Busch buyout. Maybe if the buying company were French there would be more talk about it.

    Speaking of that, I used a Belgian beer for cooking the chicken. But any beer, or wine, or broth would be good. And yes, not too much liquid. You don't want it to be soupy.

    I think the French reaction to what you say about Anheuser-Busch supporting the community would be: Yes, the U.S. is a country of company towns, where corporations hold much of the power. True or not, it's interesting that the State here in France has so much power compared to the private sector.

  6. Hi Judy, don't worry about the buy-out of Anheuser-Busch by a Belgian-based company. We Belgians are very friendly people and respect local values and traditions .. Which can't be said for several other countries. Do you like beer, and have you tried Stella Artois or Jupiler (from the same Inbev corporation) yet? You know that we have 400 (yes four hundred!!! )small breweries in Belgium; each making their own specific beer, with different tastes)???

    In the past Stella Artois and Jupiler used to be competitors, nowadays they belong to the same group. And their beer is still as good and different (to a real connaisseur) as before. So don't you worry, your local beer will survive !!!

    Ken, which Belgian beer did you use to make your delicious chicken? Not Duvel, I hope ... because it will make you tipsy before you know it! Martine

  7. Judy and other blogreaders! when I said 'other countries', I didn't have any specific country in mind. Martine

  8. Hi Ladybird/Martine!
    Thanks for your encouraging words about Belgians and InBev :)) I have a real soft spot in my heart for anything European, and for most things about the European way of life:)

    I, myself, don't actually even drink beer! So, I've never had Stella Artois, but I've heard of it, definitely. But, for those who do, I think that most people assume that In Bev will keep producing these very popular U.S. Anheuser-Busch beers --the concern around here is more for jobs not being lost, and for fear of handing over something so very, very at the heart of our community not only to a different corporation, but to one from another country altogether-- probably as you would fear if In Bev were bought out by a U.S. company :) And, of course, it all ties into our current very weak economy ... and all of the political concerns that we are currently dealing with which are very frightening.

    Back to cooking, I say! :)

    (Nice to meet you, Martine :))

  9. My father always favoured Molson Canadian. The company has some humorous commercial videos on YouTube which amusingly laugh at Canadians eh!

    I've never cooked with beer, or drank it. I don't like the smell. I'm a wine person. I'm glad I could use broth or wine with the recipe. I might use a slow cooker or the oven. It could never be as good as yours, Ken. Nevertheless, it will be much better than anything I have ever done with an impersonal cookbook. It seems that there is a special flavour and aroma coming across the ocean with Saint-Aignan Recipes. Many thanks!

  10. Cooking the braised chicken in the oven is certainly an option, especially if your stove won't let you simmer the dish at a sufficiently low temperature for an hour or two. The nice thing about our stove is that it has three hot gas burners for quick searing and stir-frying as well as one electric burner for slow cooking.

    Martine, I admit that I did use the rest of the Duvel golden ale you brought to cook the chicken. We had drunk part of it but like Claudia we are wine drinkers, even though we like a beer from time to time, in hot weather. I was afraid I had kept the Duvel too long for it to be good to drink. But it certainly was good to cook with.

  11. Not so much boeuf bourguignon as poulet belge, then..?!

    And aren't you tidy in the kitchen?

  12. Yes, poulet belge, exactly. And I was tidy in the kitchen that day. Frying the chicken pieces caused grease to spatter all over everything, especially of course the stove top. So after the frying was done and the chicken and vedge were in the covered pan, I had to wipe everything down. Then I put the pan on to simmer. That was the point of that picture — to show how I had cleaned everything up in the middle of the process!

  13. Hi Judy,
    The pleasure was all mine. I'm sure we'll meet again on Ken's blog in the future ... when the right topic comes along (like cooking and all the other good things in life !) Martine

  14. Pleased you like your new stove, yes gas is so much easier to control than electric. I had an electric hob and oven ONCE, never again.

    Your braised chicken looks very tasty, just right for a chilly day.


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