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Braised Chicken w/Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, & Balsamic


If you like the flavor of rosemary, a sprig can be added to the sauce as it reduces in step 3, then discarded before serving. It is not necessary to use an expensive balsamic vinegar for this recipe. Polenta is an excellent accompaniment to this hearty braise. 

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), trimmed of excess fat and skin
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick 
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1 anchovy fillet, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained 
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus additional, if needed
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 dried bay leaf 
12 ounces Swiss chard, washed and dried
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle both sides of chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in non-reactive Dutch oven heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking; add chicken thighs skin-side down, and cook without moving them until skin is crisped and well browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown on second sides, about 5 minutes longer; transfer thighs to large plate. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon fat from pot; add onion and tomato paste to in Dutch oven and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally and scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon, until tomato paste begins to darken, about 4 minutes (if bottom of pot becomes very dark and sticky, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons additional broth). Add garlic and anchovy and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, chicken broth, and wine, scraping up browned bits with wooden spoon. Add red pepper flakes, thyme and bay. Remove and discard skin from chicken thighs, then submerge chicken bone-side up in liquid, adding any accumulated chicken juices. Increase heat to high, bring to simmer, cover, then place pot in oven. Cook until chicken offers no resistance when poked with tip of pairing knife, but meat still clings to bone, 50 to 60 minutes. 

2. While chicken cooks, trim stems from Swiss chard. Cut stems crosswise into 1/4-inch thick pieces (you should have about 2 cups prepared stems); halve leaves lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick strips (you should have about 5 cups prepared leaves). Set stems and leaves aside separately. Also while chicken cooks, simmer balsamic vinegar in small non-reactive saucepan over medium-high heat until thick, syrupy, and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes (begin measuring volume when vinegar begins to cling to sides of saucepan). Set vinegar reduction aside.

3. Using slotted spoon, transfer chicken to plate and tent with foil. Bring liquid in Dutch oven to simmer over medium-high heat; add chard stems and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add chard greens and cook until wilted and sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir about 1/3 cup sauce into balsamic reduction to loosen, then stir mixture into sauce; adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Return chicken and accumulated juices to sauce, cook until heated through, about 2 minutes, turning chicken once or twice. To serve, use slotted spoon to transfer chard to serving bowl or individual bowls; place chicken thighs on chards, the spoon sauce over; serve immediately.