Vinegar chicken is the perfect cozy meal for a chilly night. Golden, crispy-skinned chicken thighs are braised in red wine vinegar and served with green onions and crème fraîche for a bright, comforting supper that’s so much more than the sum of its parts.
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For the first time in two years, actual winter weather is in the forecast. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high – snow is in the forecast, but only briefly before it’s set to turn to ice, then rain. Still, a cozy Saturday winter storm sounds wonderful.
With even more winter weather predicted for later in the month, it’s a good time to break out the winter comfort food. For me, this means something warm and nourishing. Maybe a saucy broth, and light, creamy polenta or a whole grain. True story: I once got a series of troll comments on here because I always serve my braises with polenta. But you know what? I have no intention of stopping. Sorry, dude.
Vinegar Chicken: Big Flavor
Anyway, the thing you should know about vinegar chicken is that it is vinegar-y with a bright, sour pop. For me, it’s just the thing to counter the richness of chicken thighs. However, if the amount of vinegar feels daunting, you can always swap out a quarter or half of the vinegar for broth. Either way, you’ll have deeply flavorful, falling-off-the-bone chicken surrounded by rich, tangy broth.
A few notes: because this dish is so simple, you’ll want to be sure the ingredients shine. Use the freshest shallots and green onions you can find. Find the most fragrant thyme. High quality, lower-acid French vinegar is ideal here. Domestic red wine vinegar is higher in acid, so swap in a tablespoon or two of water to temper the acidity.
Vinegar chicken is a classic Lyonnaise dish, and tradition dictates that it be served with fresh green onions and a dollop of crème fraîche. Don’t skip the green onions, but if you can’t source crème fraîche, try sour cream, whole milk yogurt, or labneh instead.
Serve with a Grain
As I mentioned above, I’m partial to serving my vinegar chicken with polenta, but any grain that’s suited to soaking up some delicious liquid will do well here. Consider white or brown rice, farro, or spelt. Roasted cauliflower and a bracing green salad would be very nice alongside.
Vinegar chicken is the perfect cozy meal for a chilly night. Golden, crispy-skinned chicken thighs are braised in red wine vinegar and served with green onions and creme fraiche for a bright, comforting supper that’s so much more than the sum of its parts.
Use a nice French red wine vinegar if you can find it. For more acidic domestic vinegars, swap in 2 tablespoons of water.
- 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots, about 2 medium
- 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 1 cup red wine vinegar, if using domestic vinegar, swap 2 tablespoons for water
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche
- 1/2 cup sliced green onions
- Cooked polenta rice farro, spelt, or toast
Sprinkle chicken thighs with sea salt and pepper on both sides. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Set a large, oven-proof skillet over medium/medium-high heat. Add butter. Sear chicken, skin-side down 4 - 5 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Flip and sear 4 minutes more. Remove from heat. Add shallots, bay, thyme, and then the vinegar to skillet.
Carefully slide skillet into oven and roast 15 - 20 minutes.
Remove chicken to a plate. Set skillet over high heat, stir in broth, and cook until mixture reduces, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chicken back and cook over medium heat 3 minutes more.
Serve over polenta or another grain with several spoonfuls of sauce. Finish with a dollop of crème fraîche, a few tablespoons of green onions, and a few twists of black pepper.