Alex Guarnaschelli: My Favorite Chicken Dish — Get the Recipe!


Alex Guarnaschelli is an Iron Chef, Food Network celebrity chef, author of Old-School Comfort Food and the executive chef at New York City’s Butter restaurants. Read her blog every Tuesday to get her professional cooking tips, family-favorite recipes and personal stories of working in front of the camera and behind the kitchen doors. Follow her on Twitter at @guarnaschelli.

I definitely think a good chicken breast — cooked juicy and not dry — doesn’t get enough love.

The boneless, skinless, loveless (often grilled beyond recognition) chicken breast that I have encountered can definitely resemble shoe leather and make you wish you were digging into a basket of fried chicken thighs. Other than a straight roasted breast with some fresh thyme and salt, I will admit that I gravitate towards chicken thighs. They have that bit of fat and a thick layer of skin that adds great flavor and insulation for searing and braising.

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The following recipe is just tasty, and it’s a sleeper that snuck up on me over a period of a few years. I kept coming back to it as a “rainy day” dish or something that I make and let sit overnight to warm up for my daughter and me on an evening when I have less time to cook. I drop this on a bed of Basmati rice or simple roasted potatoes. I also love it with braised Savoy cabbage or whole roasted carrots.

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Alex Guarnaschelli’s Favorite Chicken
Serves 8 to 10

2 tablespoons Canola oil
6 chicken thighs and 6 drumsticks
2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 medium cloves garlic, peeled and “pressed”
1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 28-oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger

1. Brown the chicken: Heat a large skillet over high heat and add the Canola oil. Arrange the chicken on a tray in a single layer and season with salt. Turn the pieces on their other side and season again. When the oil begins to smoke lightly, carefully add the pieces to the oil. Do not overcrowd the pan. Resist the temptation to move or turn the pieces. Allow them to brown on their first side, 5-8 minutes. Use a metal tongs to turn the chicken pieces on their second side and brown the, 3-5 additional minutes. Transfer the chicken pieces to a tray and set aside.
2. Make the sauce and braise the chicken: Add the cumin seeds to the skillet where you cooked the chicken and stir rapidly to give them a quick roast, 10-15 seconds. Add the onions and garlic. Season with salt and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they turn light brown, 5-8 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and bay leaf. Add the coconut milk and tomato. Allow the tomato to cook and all the flavors to come together, 10 minutes. Add about 1 cup of water to the skillet and arrange the chicken pieces in the sauce. Keep the heat medium low and continue cooking until the pieces are cooked through, 30-35 minutes. Stir in the ginger. Remove the bay leaves. Taste for seasoning.

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