Tex-Mex Braised Chicken


Who doesn't like taco night? Only problem is we all get tired of the same old ground beef + lettuce + cheese. It's time to try something new — meltingly tender chicken breast enrobed in a spicy and complex sauce. While you're here why not switch up your taco game too: cilantro instead of lettuce, add some quick-pickled onions, and double up on those super-thin corn tortillas. Your family's gonna love the next taco Tuesday.

  • 2½ to 3 pounds bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided 2t and 1t
  • 2 teaspoons ground pepper
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large anaheim/pasilla/green bell pepper
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper
  • 3 tablespoons oil, divided 2T and 1T
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, hot if desired
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) tomato puree
  • 1½ cup water
  1. Preheat an oven to 375°F.
  2. Rub the chicken thighs all over with 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons pepper. If time permits, let the chicken thighs sit while you prepare the vegetables.
  3. Mince the red bell pepper, onion, and anaheim pepper. Grate the carrot on the large holes of a grater. Top the jalapeño then slice very thinly into rounds, including the membrane and seeds. Combine all the vegetables and set aside.Only
  4. Pour 2 tablespoons oil into a large oven-safe skillet. Place chicken thighs in, skin side down, and turn the heat to medium. Render the fat for about 10 minutes, then flip and cook another 5 minutes. The skin side should be deeply browned and there should be considerably more fat in the pan than when you started. A splatter guard is a big help here.
  5. Remove the thighs to a plate. Add all of the vegetables to the pan with all of the fat and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are very soft and well browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. If the pan becomes dry and the veg aren't browning, add another tablespoon of oil.
  6. When the vegetables are cooked, add all of the spices and stir to combine and bloom the spices for just a moment.
  7. Take the pan off the heat for a moment. Add the tomato puree, the spices, and 1 cup of water to the pan. Swish out the puree can with the remaining half cup of water and add it to the pan. Stir well, scraping up any browned bits, then add the chicken back to the pan, skin side up. Spoon a little sauce over each thigh. Put back onto the heat and bring to a strong simmer.
  8. Cover tightly (my pan is big so I use aluminum foil and a baking sheet) and put in the oven for 45 minutes. After that, remove the lid and cook another 20 to 30 minutes until the sauce is thickened but not dry.
  9. Remove the thighs to a plate to cool and when cool enough to handle, shred the meat from the bone with a fork, discarding the skin and bones. Add back to the pan and mix everything together. Serve hot.